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.