I've been very privileged over the last two weeks to see two excellent concerts by the Halle orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall. I used to go to concerts quite regularly but somehow slipped out of the habit. About a month ago they were advertising the new season and Lesley Garrett was billed as appearing alongside the Halle. Well, I couldn't miss that. So I trotted along and got a ticket.
Unfortunately, due to a family bereavement, Lesley had to pull out so instead we got Alison Balsalm on the trumpet. The concert kicked off with Tintagel by Bax, a wonderful piece that heard before and the Alison came on gave us a Haydn Trumpet Concerto followed by Piazzola Linertango - a lovely jazzy jaunty tango number. Then she nipped off and quickly nipped on again bringing her flugelhorn on which, accompanied by the Halle, she gave a lovely version of Someone To Watch Over Me.
Following the Interval we had Barber's Adagio for Strings, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written and one of my favourite classical compositions. When the Halle played it, the audience were rapt, hanging on every note, those heart rending notes the only sound in an auditorium that holds over 2000 ,
And then Sir Mark Elder conducted the entire Variations on an Original Theme "Enigma" by Elgar. Like most people I know Nimrod but I'd never heard the entire work. My night was made when the Bridgewater's organ joined the party. It's long been an ambition to hear that instrument being played and so i got to tick one small item off the 'bucket list' And by the way, it sounds magnificent especially in tandem with a full orchestra.
Tonight was Wild West. The orchestra eschewed the usual formal wear and turned in jeans, checked shirts and stetsons and Carl Davis wore a Sheriff's badge (well he was conducting) and treated us to a selection of themes from Westerns (one of my favorite movie genres). We had among others the William Tell Overture (aka The Lone Ranger), The Big Country, Okalahoma, a medley of TV themes and of course The Magnificent Seven.
The orchestra seemed to be enjoying themselves, the audience certainly were and demanded on encore. Davis turns to the crowd and talks about how much of South West USA was originally a Spanish possession and of the large Spanish influence - particularly musically - there has been and continues in America.He turns to the Halle orchestra who launch in La Bamba.
One of the UK's (and worlds) most renowned classical orchestras playing a 50's pop hit. And playing it brilliantly, smiles across the musician's faces, the audience joyfully clapping along. It was just a magnificent moment. Somewhere Richie Valens is jumping for joy.
A lovely coda to the night was the chance to thank Carl Davis for that La Bamba moment. And to buy a CD of movies themes conducted and get it signed. It's on now. The Good The Bad and The Ugly just finished. Now it's High Noon.