KCO Concert in November 2005
|Meyers||Suite for Orchestra|
|Britten arr. Matthews||A Charm of Lullabies (soloist Margaret Cameron)|
|Bizet||'Seguidilla' from Carmen (encore) (soloist Margaret Cameron)|
|Beethoven||Symphony no 3 'Eroica'|
This concert featured the Suite for Orchestra from A Midsummer Night's Dream by our conductor, Andy Meyers.
This orchestral suite uses music drawn from two earlier sources - the piano and wind quintet Nocturnal Dances (1990) and synthesised incidental music for a children's production of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream (1995). The plot commences on Midsummer Night's Eve, with the entrance of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his fiancee Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Egeus is upset because his daughter Hermia wishes to marry Lysander rather than his preferred son-in-law Demetrius. He asks the Duke to use his authority to force Hermia to marry Demetrius and the Duke agrees to make a decision on the following day before his own marriage.
Meanwhile some workers - Flute, Quince, Snug, Bottom, Snout and Starveling - are preparing to perform a play as part of the wedding celebrations.
Hermia and Lysander flee Athens to a nearby wood to escape from Egeus. Unbeknown to them Oberon and Titania, the King and Queen of the Fairies, are having a disagreement in the wood. Oberon leaves Titania in a rage, and Titania is consoled by her fairy attendants. Oberon casts a spell which plunges the wood into darkness with a thick impenetrable fog that allows his servant Puck to cause some serious mischief.
However, all is well in the morning, and Theseus over-rules Egeus announcing that Hermia and Lysander will also be married that day. The workmen perform their play for the wedding guests and all take part in the final Bergomask dance.
The piece is in five movements that evoke the following selection of scenes from the play:
The Fairies Lullaby
Snug the Joiner, Bottom the Weaver and Flute the Bellows Mender
The Couples are Re-United
The concert also included a performance of Britten's A Charm of Lullabies performed by Margaret Cameron. Click on the People button for more information about Margaret.
The following review of our concert was published in the Surrey Comet.
An 'Heroic' concert at the Parish Church
Kingston Chamber Orchestra, now in its 20th year, gave another sparkling performance on Saturday in Kingston Parish Church. The varied programme included Beethoven's 'Eroica' symphony, a new work from their conductor who is a composer in his own right, and a Benjamin Britten composition sung by one of Britain's leading mezzo sopranos.
Andy Meyers, the orchestra's conductor, began the concert with his latest work, a 'Suite for Orchestra' evoking scenes from the Shakespeare play, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. The suite started in a fairly harsh, even strident way, enhanced no doubt by the clear acoustics. Next, it changed to a more tuneful, soulful, mood in the 'Fairies Lullaby'. The third section introduced the 'Mechanicals', Snug the Joiner, Bottom the Weaver and Flute the Bellows Mender, some rhythms not unlike those of Bernstein's West Side Story. In the fourth, as 'the couples were reunited', it changed to a quiet, relaxing and tuneful tempo. The piece ended with a return to the extrovert music of the first movement and including dance-like rhythms. This work is greatly enhanced by the beautiful sound of a harp. It also requires three horns whose performance in this and the later works contributed much to the enjoyment of the concert.
Margaret Cameron, a widely experienced mezzo soprano, provided the centre piece of the concert with 'A Charm of Lullabies' by Benjamin Britten. Her experience includes work on the operatic stage, in religious works, and in contemporary music, at home and abroad. She has also recorded for Phillips and EMI.
The Britten work is a series of songs orchestrated by Colin Matthews for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. They are based on five texts by leading authors from the 16th to 19th centuries, including 'A Cradle Song' by William Blake and 'The Highland Balou', by Robert Burns. This work provides a fine vehicle for a singer and Margaret Cameron was fully equal to the task of conveying the moods evoked by the writers. As an encore she sang the beautiful aria, 'Seguidilla' from Bizet's 'Carmen', a complete change in vocal style.
The final work from the orchestra was Symphony No. 3 the 'Eroica' by Beethoven. This was written in tribute to Napoleon as 'An Heroic Symphony composed to celebrate the memory of a great man'. However, after Napoleon declared himself Emperor, Beethoven tore off the title page, saying "Now he too will trample on the rights of man and indulge only his own ambition". Describing the symphony, Andy Meyers said that it contains "some incredibly violent moments, as if Beethoven was desperate to hear the chords despite his growing deafness. Such dissonances were not used by other composers until the 20th century". Of the second movement, he said, "the horns have a special part to play, as an heroic instrument". He described the last movement as "containing popular idioms of the time, including Turkish music".
To undertake such a well-known and well-loved symphony as the Eroica must be a daunting experience, but the orchestra, under conductor Andy Meyers and its popular leader Charles Knights, showed that it was fully able to bring out the magnificence of the work. As in its June concert, when it performed Beethoven's 'Emperor' Concerto, the ensemble showed that it is capable of providing the full orchestral sound required for major Beethoven works.
Throughout the concert every section played its best. Though invidious to try to select individual sections for recommendation, I particularly compliment the cellos, trumpets and flutes in this performance. Kingston Chamber Orchestra is surely a credit to the borough.
The following review of our concert was published in the Kingston Guardian on 1 December 2005.
A Wonderful Celebration
Kingston Chamber Orchestra celebrated its 20th year with another sparkling performance at Kingston Parish Church. Their winter programme included Beethoven's Eroica symphony and a Benjamin Britten composition sung by one of Britain's leading sopranos, Margaret Cameron.
Andy Meyers, conductor, began the concert with his latest work, a Suite for Orchestra, evoking scenes from the Shakespeare play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. This work was enhanced by the beautiful sound of a harp and three horns, whose performance in this and later works contributed much to the enjoyment of the concert. Cameron provided the centre piece of the concert with A Charm of Lullabies by Benjamin Britten - a fine vehicle for a singer of her quality. As an encore she sang the beautiful aria Seguidilla, from Bizet's Carmen, a complete change in vocal style.
Beethoven's Symphony No 3, the Eroica, was a fitting finale. This symphony was written in tribute to Napoleon until he declared himself Emperor, which almost prompted Beethoven to tear up his masterpiece. The orchestra successfully portrayed the magnificence of this much-loved work.