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Craven Herald Concert Review - Winter 2019

Here's the review of our Winter Concert in Skipton (Published recently in the Craven Herald)


Skipton Music lovers had a late Christmas present [last week] in the form of an excellent concert by the Vacation Chamber Orchestra (VaCO). The orchestra was founded 25 years ago to provide opportunities for talented young musicians, from all over the UK and abroad, to take part in high quality music making. The standard of the individual players is extraordinarily high, and under the sensitive baton of the orchestra’s founder, Xenophon Kelsey, they had achieved miracles of coordination and musicianship in the three days’ rehearsal available before last night’s concert; at times you could imagine that this was an ensemble of seasoned professionals who had played together all their lives.

The programme was delightful and varied. The concert began with Aaron Copland’s rapt evocation of a sleeping city, with the rich cor anglais of Emily Crichton neatly complemented by the more assertive trumpet of Abigail Ferguson. Next came a totally persuasive account of the rarely-heard clarinet concerto by Gerald Finzi; soloist Ruaridh Bakke performed wonders with the clarinet part, in turn passionate, lyrical and whimsical, while the VaCO strings coped effortlessly with the fiendishly difficult orchestral accompaniment. After the interval the full orchestra revelled in the wry humour and elegance of Haydn’s “La Reine” symphony and Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” suite; everyone contributed to the fun, but I particularly enjoyed the woodwind solos from flute, oboe and bassoon in the slow movement of the Haydn and the deliberately coarse interventions from trombone and double bass in the Stravinsky. The finale of the Stravinsky, with its unexpectedly irregular rhythms played with perfect precision and finesse, brought this most enjoyable concert to a fine conclusion.

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