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Phoenix Concert Band

Autumn Concert

Phoenix Concert Band
St George's Church, Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3BR
Saturday 14th November 2020

Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble


Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble
Monday 30th November 2020

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Article: Concert report

NSWO at Bluecoats

NSWO at Bluecoats

Many thanks to PTGraphics for the Photographs

The concert on Saturday was planned as a tester to see if the new venue at Bluecoats would be suitable for wind music. We arrived for the rehearsal to find an interesting hall with one or two acoustical problems caused by the very high ceiling and the reflective surfaces. It always surprises me that a purpose built venue can be completed without considering the important acoustics issue in the basic design. The balcony was so high up that the view from there is almost directly above the performers and the view of the stage is around 25% which meant that it was not used by the audience on this occasion.

I was concerned at the rehearsal that all the tiny details of the Danceries score would be lost in a flood of echo. NSWO had worked very hard to ensure that the piece would reveal all of the subtleties of the score. They also wanted a special performance to celebrate the award for Margaret Frogson so we worked on strategies to make the best use of the hall.

On the night, the capacity crowd was treated to some fine wind playing, showing attention to detail, balance, intonation and phrasing. All the things I like!! I was very impressed by the easy musicality of the orchestra and the comments from the regular followers backed up my assessment.

The Equinox Saxophone Ensemble with Ally Parnell; the groups popular founder, was also excellent. They played with a professional assurance showing that saxes can phrase, play in tune and be dynamically varied whilst retaining their characteristic swagger. There may well have been a time when such a group would outclass NSWO but not on this occasion. From Danceries to Paris Sketches, from Shostakovich to Allerseelen the orchestra matched the scores stylistically and musically. Some performances that should be mentioned include, the principal oboe who played magically in the 3rd movement of Danceries, and the principal flute in a lovely performance of the Debussy.

NSWO concerts have usually contained a few too many slips for my liking and this one showed that they could concentrate sufficiently to eliminate almost all such errors.
Most importantly, for me, they adapted well to each piece, played meaningful and cohesive phrases with very strong dynamic contrasts. It was wind playing as I would want it and I can only thank the orchestra for all their efforts. That will be a minimum standard from now on!

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