Audience Review Of Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra


Conductor: Camillio Manricks. Concertmaster: Alison Fletcher. Soloist: Vicky Hong

Take wonderful music from two of the world’s finest composers, played by the leading community orchestra in our area, led by a fine musician, and conducted by a man who has lived with this music for the whole of his working life…..the audience knew they were in for a real treat. Add to that mix a very experienced soloist, the pianist Vicky Hong, and we had a concert to remember.

The dramatic opening chords of Beethoven’s “Coriolan Overture” played with absolute precision took us into the turbulent musical world of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, a world of violence, murder, heroism, cries for mercy and ultimately tragic death. The NRSO rose to the mayhem splendidly, giving us a very rousing start.

Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 20 in D minor (K466) followed, a complete change of mood, though there is also drama enough. It was beautifully played by Vicky Hong, with wonderful contrasts of light and shade, of cascades of notes, with quieter lingering melodies, and lovely echoing duets with the woodwind. Conductor and soloist were clearly at one throughout, and the balance between soloist and orchestra was excellent, the orchestra playing with a warm rich tone, but always allowing the piano sound to come through. Both cadenzas were played with virtuoso brilliance, and there was a spontaneous roar of applause from the audience at the final notes.

The second half, was Beethoven’s Symphony no 3, the “Eroica”. The fact that it is well known, doesn’t make it any easier to play, and the fast passages are very quick indeed! The easy option for the conductor would be to slow up the speeds and give his players a more comfortable ride. Cam wisely conducted it as Beethoven intended, to the very limit of what was possible in 1803 – and also to a large extent in 2019! This gave the audience a thrilling ride in the outer movements. The orchestra rose to the challenge and played throughout these movements with dexterity and precision, without a note out of place, and plenty of dynamic contrast. The Funeral March had gravity and dignity, benefiting from the strong dark tone of the lower strings. Overall, a dramatic and exciting performance, full of energy and passion, richly deserving the standing ovation of a very appreciative full house.

The NRSO goes from strength to strength. It carries no passengers amongst its players, and attracts musicians from a very wide area, of all ages, who are fiercely loyal, some regularly traveling a considerable distance to play. Top conductors are delighted to work with the orchestra. However, just as important is the expertise and hard work of the management team over many years, and those who operate the “front of house”. It is not just the great music that is guaranteed at a NRSO concert, it is also the warm welcome as you step into the foyer, the feeling that you are part of a large group of friends who all share a love of music. You can wear what you like, you can be as young or as old as you are, you can clap when you feel you want to, you won’t go hungry or thirsty in the interval, you can leap to your feet at the end and cheer your head off with approval. And even if it’s not actually at the end, no-one will “tut-tut” with disapproval! Congratulations to the whole team, and very best wishes for 2020

YC, NRSO:28.10.19