A visit to the Barber

Bournville String Orchestra,
The Barber Institute of Fine Arts,
University of Birmingham,
Edgbaston Park Road,
Saturday September 6th 7:30pm

A charity concert this coming Saturday features the Bournville String Orchestra, comprising over thirty current and former local music students (Grade 7 or above), Under the auspices of Birmingham music teacher Lucy Akehurst, the ensemble has come together annually for the last nine years, raising money for Christian Aid and Save the Children in the process.

This will be the final performance for conductor Alpesh Chauhan (currently studying under Andris Nelsons as Fellowship Conductor at the CBSO) and thus offers one last chance to see this highly regarded young conductor directing an orchestra that he has been with since its inception in 2005.

This year’s programme, the result of a week-long series of rehearsals, offers the following quintet of pieces:

Mozart – Divertimento in B Flat
Britten – Simple Symphony
Pett – Untitled
Webern – Langsamer Satz
Beethoven – Grosse Fuge

One of three Divertimentos written by Mozart, and the second that the BSO has tackled, ‘B’ starts slowly, before an increased tempo builds to a majestic climax.

Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony is similarly dexterous in tone and time signatures, the bourrée is boisterous, the pizzicato is playful, the finale frolicsome.

Daniel Pett, a pupil at King Edwards School, will conduct his own work, which he premiered earlier this summer. Clearly both a confident and precocious young talent.

Following the interval, Anton Webern’s Langsamer sStz, whilst undeniably challenging (a trait the BSO has historically sought in many of the pieces it presents) is a little masterpiece. Composed in 1905, it is a mixture of yearning and turmoil, and is never less than beautiful.

A glance at the score of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge leaves one in no doubt that this, the principal work featured in tonight’s concert, is set to stretch and strain to their limits each section of the BSO. It’s a dense and dark slab of Germanic angst, which Chauhan describes as: “like being slapped around the head for fifteen minutes.” In less assured hands this piece could be a disaster, but a stirring battle royal amongst these young players is the more likely outcome.

Tickets (£12/£8 concessions) are available in advance by e-mailing lucy.akehurst@gmail.com or on the door