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Revolution Stirs the Hall

Brazilian solo violinist, Nathan Amaral. Photo courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

Chineke! Orchestra, Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry. One night only Thursday 26 October.

Review by Ann Cee.

Young, gifted and black musicians flocked to Butterworth Hall this evening to play a fantastic programme of classical music that had its roots in revolutionary France. The performances were extremely well received, and the audience came close to raising the roof with their cheers and appreciation.

It felt like a fitting conclusion to Black History Month to attend a concert by the wonderful Chineke! Orchestra which, since its founding in 2015 by double bassist Chi-chi Nwanoku CBE, has been celebrating and promoting the talents of black and ethnically diverse classical musicians in the UK and Europe.

The highlight for me was, without doubt, Brazilian solo violinist, Nathan Amaral who excelled in Bologne’s Violin Concerto No 2 in A major, Op 5. It was a piece that allowed his deliciously sweet notes at the top of the register to shine, regardless of tempo or volume – some truly ‘wow’ moments that keep the audience transfixed. Amaral is clearly more than limbered up for his imminent concert at Wigmore Hall which he will play with violinist Hilary Hahn in November.

Amaral had a gentle, quiet grace and lightness of touch throughout the piece and the orchestra provided an understated accompaniment that allowed the voice of the violin to sail up into the rafters. It was a complex piece that hit its mark with a deft intensity.

Chineke! Full Orchestra. At Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, November 2022. Photo © Eduardus Lee. Courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre.

The second half gave us a beefed-up orchestra with more brass, wind and percussion to deliver a more familiar piece, a Beethoven symphony (No 3 in E flat Major Op 55, Eroica). This work was as revolutionary in musical terms as the military commander it originally celebrated, Napoleon Bonapart, However, Beethoven later dedicated the piece to all heroism 'Eroica' and it has provided a suitably majestic soundtrack for all strong and stirring leadership in the face of adversity. A wonderful marker of change that is fitting for our times.

Full credit to conductor Matthew Lynch who led the orchestra and provided such solid support to the soloist this evening. Also of note were flutist Matthew Higham (terrific) and oboists, Juliet Lewis and Esther Williams.

This concert is the first of five concerts in the Warwick Arts Centre’s 2023/24 Orchestral Series. Tickets for the remainder of the Series available from:

1 Comment

Oct 27, 2023

PS Its worth noting that Beethoven later retracted his admiration for Napoleon when he declared himself Emperor of the French, and that's when the symphony became 'Eroica' or 'Heroic'.

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