Birmingham String Orchestra concert for charity

Bournville String Orchestra, The Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, King Edward’s School, Edgbaston Park Road, Edgbaston Saturday September 7th 2013 19:30

The Bournville String Orchestra, in rehearsal September 2012

The Bournville String Orchestra, in rehearsal September 2012. Photo: Steve Beauchampé

A charity concert this coming Saturday features the Bournville String Orchestra, comprising around forty current and former local music students (Grade 7 or above) under the auspices of Birmingham music teacher Lucy Akehurst, the ensemble comes together annually both for the sheer pleasure of performance and to raise money for Christian Aid and Save the Children.

As in recent years (and this is the group’s eighth concert) the conductor will be Alpesh Chauhan (former Principal Cellist of the CBSO Youth Orchestra and currently studying at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music), with the orchestra led by David Smith from English Touring Opera. This year’s programme, the result of intensive rehearsals over a two-week period, offers the following quartet of pieces:

  • Felix Mendelssohn – Sinfonia No. 10
  • Vivaldi – Spring and Autumn (from The Four Seasons) (soloist Sarah Thornett)
  • Finzi – Clarinet Concerto (soloist Tom Evans)
  • Tchaikovsky – Serenade For Strings

Felix Mendelssohn’s Sinfonia No. 10 is a dark piece; fast, furious and unrelenting, requiring the orchestra to be on their mettle for what is at times a demanding piece.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is one of the best-known works in the classical repertoire. Quintessential baroque music, each of its four movements depicts a poem relating to a specific season. Tonight’s choices are Spring (joyous in tone) and Autumn (heavier and ‘rustic’). Soloist is Sarah Thornett, a violinist with Welsh National Opera.

Following a short intermission the performance restarts with Finzi’s Clarinet Concerto, scored (naturally) for clarinet, but which can be a fiendishly difficult work for the other players. Passionate and beautiful, its varying tempo and gear changes present numerous challenges, a test for professional musicians, let alone an occasional (though talented and committed) group such as the BSO. Soloist is Tom Evans.

Tchaikovsky’s Serenade For Strings closes proceedings. A staple of the string orchestra music canon, it features widely in the repertoire of many such ensembles and was previously performed by the BSO in 2008. The longest of tonight’s musical offerings, it received its premier in St. Petersburg in 1881. The passionate opening movement is believed to be a tribute to Mozart, but the score later incorporates waltz and folk song, at times delicate, at times incessant and belligerent.

23-year old Alpesh Chauhan began conducting seven years ago and made his public debut with the BSO conducting Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. His mentor is Michael Seal, Associate Conductor of the CBSO.

Tickets (£10/£7.50p concessions) are available either by calling 0121 471 1583 or on the door.