Review - Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra in concert

Review by Janet Lawrence

Joanna MacGregor

A series of jigs, reels and toe tapping music formed the theme of the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra's concert last Sunday. An exhilarating departure from the usual, and indeed wonderful classical concerts that new Music Director Joanna MacGregor leads.

The Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra has gone out of its way to introduce innovative themed concerts, thanks to pianist/conductor McGregor, Barry Wordsworth's successor.

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Guesting with the orchestra were two collaborating musicians from the North – Kathryn Tickell, the worlds foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes, and Amy Thatcher on her 90-base Pigini accordion. Both enthusiasts of the UK folk scene. Tickell's pipes has no mouthpiece - this instrument operates on bellows (that she's had since a child) for the air that sounds the notes.

So there was no doubt what was in store as the full orchestra lured us in with Grainger's English Folk Song 'Green Bushes'.

This set the tone for the whole concert - folksy tunes, with jigs and reels, melody punctuated by wind themes, horn, clarinet and oboe.

Whilst we love our Haydns and Mozarts this exciting departure showed that music is music, whatever the genre. So we enjoyed all the 20th century composers, much of the programme being Percy Grainger and his reels. John Tavener's soothing work 'The Lamb'; James McMillan's Shamnation from Piano Concerto No 2; Tom Waites's moving tribute song 'Georgia Lee'; assorted traditional tunes like Shetland's the New Ragged Ship; many compositions by Tickell and Thatcher - about pressed-ganged sailors, a horse that went lame; Kathryn on fiddle playing carols that we sang along to, Amy bursting into clog dancing.

Seventeen short pieces in all, featuring 20th century composers that included a lot of the Australian-born Percy Grainger, and arrangements of his catchy tune Shepherd's Hey and more, works that melded and followed each other seamlessly and had us clapping along, singing along, foot tapping and leaving the hall obsessively humming Grainger's Shepherd's Hey all the way home.

Next Dome concert: 31 December, Stephen Bell conductor, Rebecca Bottone soprano.

Review by Janet Lawrence