At Richmondshire Concerts we usually have one concert during the season that’s a bit off the usual ‘chamber music’ track, and in the 2016 season that box was ticked by the North East Brass Ensemble. Made up of nine of the top brass players in the North East region with experience in top brass bands, military bands and orchestras, the ensemble was formed in 2013 and, we were told, this was the furthest south they have ever played as NEBE. We’ve never thought of this Richmond as ‘down south’ before!
The programme was also unusual in that it included no fewer than three commissions composed especially for their Richmondshire Concerts gig. Now one ‘world première’ is often a signal for an audience to stay home in droves , but three! Well there was no need to be afraid as they all turned out to be both tuneful and interesting – and our audience turned out in force. The first ‘Willance’s Leap – Facets of a Strange tale’ by Steve Robson, who was there to hear its première, was obviously a Richmond piece and it was a certainly a work that we hope will enter the ensemble’s repertoire. ‘Verve’ by James McFadyen, which ended the first set, was in an entirely different style and was, as the programme notes suggested, an exciting and easily recognisable prologue to the interval. ‘Fantasy’, the final commission, was by Isobel Jury who was until recently a student at Richmond School and had been recommended for the commission by tuba player Steven Boyd, who had been her music teacher there. It was the first time she had written any music for brass instruments but she showed a real talent for it. Hers should be a name to watch out for in the future. She too was there to hear her work premièred.
The rest of the concert was made up of works by eight composers across the centuries, from Gabrieli in the late C16 to composers of the mid C20. In a varied programme that showed off the group’s skills both individually and corporately the audience was never allowed to get bored and after the final piece, ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’ from Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’, we even got an encore though its name was not announced and it was not a well-known work.
The next concert on 3 December is the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra which will be conducted by David Greed, leader of the Orchestra of Opera North, who is also soloist in Vivaldi’s ‘The Four Seasons’. Another splendid evening to look forward to.
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