Exuberance, vitality and skill – Stetson Concert

St Andrew’s Church was again filled with the most attractive of attributes – even if some in the audience were lacking in one or more!   On 16th May that audience was treated to a delightful experience when the Stetson University of Florida Chamber Orchestra performed.

The musicians’ obvious delight in demonstrating just how good young players can be under an inspirational conductor was clear from the start.   Anthony Hose has put together as talented a group of 23 musicians as has graced any concert hall.   He – with them – chose and performed a programme as charming and original as could be asked for.   Composers unheard of by most of the audience were introduced by musicians who left us wondering why they had remained in obscurity for so long.   Morfydd Owen who died at the age of 26 enthralled us with her Threnody, while Asger Hamerik’s sixth symphony, the “Spirituelle” reminded us that there is more to Denmark than bacon and Sandi Toksvig.   Of his seven symphonies this is the only one written for string orchestra.   It echoes with folk tunes and pastoral harmonies.

One of Handel’s Concerti Grossi, Op.6, No 9, opened the programme – a more or less familiar piece – but Boccherini’s Cello Concerto G477 of about 1770, written by him with such technical demands as to defeat all but his own abilities as a cellist was another novelty to most of us.   It was brilliantly performed by David Bjella who is professor of cello at Stetson University.   Boccherini would have been impressed!

Variations for Bassoon and Strings by Antonin Reicha who lived from 1770 to 1836 was again a venture into the unknown.   Superbly played by Ian Morin whose list of achievements exceed the capacity of this journal, it amazed, amused and delighted in equal measure.

Kyrsten Chambers plays the piano to concert standard.   She plays the harpsichord to concert standard and she sings like an angel!   Her mezzo rendering of Vivaldi’s aria Gelito in ogni vena from Farnace was athletic, vibrant and thrilling.   It begins “I feel my blood like ice coursing through every vein”.   We got the feeling!

 

Anthony Hose began playing the piano at the age of three.   He has studied piano, harpsichord, clarinet and double bass as well as, of course, conducting.   An ex-professor of music at the Royal College of Music – his alma mater – and the Royal Academy of Music, he has conducted orchestras throughout Europe and America and has some 90 operas in his repertoire.

His contribution to the musical life of Stetson University since his appointment there in 2000 is something in which we shared his wholly justified pride.

Next season’s programme will shortly be on the website.

That music of this quality is available on your doorstep is amazing.   Come along and share.

Review by Malcom Cotterill

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