Spotlight – English Fireworks, con fuoco
Conductor Robert Guy
Soloists Andrew Griffiths (tuba) and David Robinson (bassoon)
Let’s hope that the fireworks are only musical in this concert, and that there are just the right number to make sure this concert catches light artistically and not literally. Our Spotlight falls on the tuba and bassoon tonight, with concerto performances from our own soloists, in a concert of English music.
Guy Woolfenden was Head of Music at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1963 to 1998, and composed 150 scores for them, making music an integral part of their productions. Outside of the theatre he found time to conduct and compose, particularly for wind instruments, and was the first director of the Cambridge Festival.
Vaughan-Williams is supposed to have begun a concert saying “you start and I’ll follow”. Let’s hope he was speaking to his soloist rather than the full orchestra or things might have become difficult. The last movement of the Tuba Concerto has been described as like Falstaff among the fairies in Windsor Forest, the tuba romping amongst the dancing strings, a very jolly affair.
Malcolm Arnold said that his heroes were Berlioz and Louis Armstrong, the latter inspiring his to take up the trumpet, and his musical influences were Shostakovich and Mahler, a very cosmopolitan bunch. Closer to home, he based his Overture opus 51 on the poem by Robert Burns, a tale of a drunken encounter with witches. In contrast Benjamin Britten’s Simple Symphony features nursery rhymes and was dedicated to his childhood viola teacher.
Ending this concert will be Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, taken from the music he composed for the film The First of the Few, the story of the design of the Spitfire and its contribution to the war effort.