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Freeland Orchestra

Rehearsing in Eynsham, Near Witney, Oxfordshire

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June 30th 2018

Community Music making at its best! Freeland Orchestra gave us a real treat; a feast of contrasting classical musical styles under the clear and competent baton of their regular conductor Wendy Marks. This orchestra is a credit to the village community from which it takes its name – friends and relations came in force to experience with others, what their son, daughter, mum, dad, cousin and friends love to do, coming together to make music - and to learn more about their own expressiveness and skills in the process.


Hérold’s Zampa overture, a piece with a tune for each section of the orchestra to show off in. The first violins were particularly expressive and had a lovely singing tone, balanced in colour with the dramatic sonorities in the lower wind and brass. I loved the humour in the pizzicato sections! It’s hard for upper winds to stay in tune in this hot weather, but this initial problem sorted itself out as everyone got into it.

What is really impressive is the authoritative leadership from the conductor, who inspires confidence in the instrumentalists. The important procedures of establishing a uniform sense of pitch and having clear sight lines to the baton are recognised as key ingredients of amateur music making and orchestral performing. There is a shared clear sense of wanting the music to communicate. So in the second longer piece -  Symphony No. 99 by Haydn, the pace and dynamics had been well prepared and there was some lovely lyrical tones from the oboes and well executed articulation from the bassoons in movement one. There followed very expressive phrasing from the upper wind in the Adagio movement. The ambitiously fast last movement was full of energy, with some lovely horn playing punctuating the texture and the flutes at their chattery best. A great opportunity to hear the clarinets in this piece.

The last piece, ‘Land of the Mountain and the Flood’ by the Scottish composer Hamish MacCunn was very

atmospheric. While the brass and wind held sustained well balanced lines, the middle strings, especially 2nd violins and violas kept all the imagery of the watery floods flowing along well in their undulating phrases.


(Alison Street)


Orchestral programme:

Zampa Overture - Ferdinand Hérold

Symphony No. 99 - Franz Joseph Haydn

Land of the Mountain & the Flood - Hamish MacCunn


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