Skye and Lochalsh Orchestra

27 Apr 2009 in Highland, Music

Aros Centre, Portree, Isle of Skye, 25 April 2009

Skye and Lochalsh Orchestra (photo - Terry Williams)

SLO’S Spring Concert was a musical feast. Their Aros debut comprised an ambitious programme that included Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra. That they pulled off both pieces with considerable panache was clear proof that this dedicated group has reached a new level of musicianship.

They were joined for the occasion by guest soloist Alex South, well known for his work with the Glasgow-based Scottish Clarinet Quartet. His fluid, expressive performance of the Mozart drew a superb response from the orchestra, as musical director Becky Milne urged them to give their all – and they did. The enthusiastic applause was well deserved.

This was also a chance to hear two of the orchestra’s chamber music offshoots. Sarabande – “an eccentric instrumental line-up” of two bassoons, a French horn, a piccolo and a set of English bagpipes – included in their performance a piece called New Boots, described as “an undanceable waltz tune” composed by Dr Jonathan Bynoe. Skye Brass – a recent revival of an earlier group – gave a lively rendering of Jeremiah Clarke’s Trumpet Voluntary, and Three Rocks by Bruce Fraser.

From offshoots to new roots, and the Skye & Lochalsh Schools’ Orchestra, directed by Marian Beeston. There was plenty to unnerve these 30 young string players. Not only were they sharing a stage with the senior orchestra, but there was a professional soloist and a real concert venue to contend with as well. Undaunted, they were on fine form – true professionals in the making!

As an extra treat, orchestra members Nicola Henderson and Brian Dodds stepped forward to join Alex South and Becky Milne in a couple of foot-tapping pieces for clarinet quartet. Finally, the whole orchestra came together again, and Encore by Andrey Rubtsov sent everyone home with a tune in their head. It was a fine musical evening.
There is another chance to catch the SLO Spring Concert in Broadford Village Hall (9 May), when the lineup will include a tuba!

© Terry Williams, 2009