CONCERT REVIEW: Freeland Orchestra with WOW, WOC and WOL
30th Nov 2019 in St Leonard’s Church, Eynsham
"An Inspiring evening of music with Wendy Marks"
It was a damp cold dark night on Saturday 30th November. Advent was heralded by the festive feeling in the church with its evergreen garlands. Looking around the packed church you could tell we were in for an interesting evening of ensemble from a wide range of players from across West Oxfordshire. Young and old, novice and experienced come together to create a showcase for the community and to display their enthusiasm for music making.
Wendy Marks the conductor and coach brings an authoritative knowledgeable manner to the proceedings as she introduces the groups. First the Freeland Orchestra, with some lovely lyrical phrasing in Bruckner’s Overture. Then followed a little gem of a piece, Kalinnikov’s Interlude No. 2. The dance-like liveliness with its hints of folk music from the Steppes reminded us of Tchaikovsky. The strings sparkled, the oboe solo soared and the trombone gave an assured foundation. The whole had a strong sense of ensemble and rhythmic accuracy. The orchestra ended their section of the evening with two tangos.
West Oxfordshire Clarinets (WOC) comprised 15 players, across the range of clarinets, so the audience got a chance to experience the different voices and versatility of these instruments. Where else in Oxfordshire can we get the opportunity to learn about both the expressivity and the challenges involved in melding this colourful audio palette let alone holding these forces together in a cohesive shape?
WOL (West Oxon Learners) charmed us all with some well-known popular tunes. What is remarkable is that there is a tune for everyone here and Wendy Marks’ own arrangements - ‘A million dreams’ - and later on, ‘Forgotten Dreams’ - mean players have a bespoke piece, written with real people in mind; real learners aspiring to perform. Great! So if you have a trombone in a cupboard or an old clarinet under the bed, and you are musically curious, bring it along, because Wendy can create a part for you.
And the last section of the performance brought all the wind forces together. WOW! Lives up to its name. The energy was palpable. A great choice of repertoire for this instrumental mix, starting with Schubert’s Marche Militaire. Wendy’s arrangement of Anderson’s ‘Forgotten Dreams’ was evidently created by a sympathetic woodwind player who understands tonal colour. Then Shostakovich’s waltz, where the alto sax took the solo beautifully and an excellent bass line played with just enough lightness for a waltz. The concert ended with an Elton John selection.
WOW, WOL and WOC are a musical phenomenon, displaying energetic enthusiastic playing, alongside Freeland’s own orchestra all expertly directed and brought together to make for a wonderful festive evening. Well done all!
Alison Street 10/12/19