Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Review: Twin musos impress crowds

YOUNG musicians from Henley and its German twin town Leichlingen met for a weekend of music-making for the 17th time,

YOUNG musicians from Henley and its German twin town Leichlingen met for a weekend of music-making for the 17th time, culminating in an orchestral concert on Sunday at the Christ Church Centre and a jazz concert on Monday at the Eyot Centre.

After two days of rehearsals the joint youth orchestra, under conductor Chris Walker, was moulded into a disciplined ensemble able to perform magnificently in concert. A particularly strong group this time, they were tested by Handel’s Music For The Royal Fireworks, Vaughan Williams’ Folk Song Suite, Mussorgsky’s Night On A Bare Mountain and Badelt’s Pirates Of The Caribbean. There were excellent string ensemble passages in the Handel, fine wind playing in the Vaughan Williams and a tremendous rendition of Pirates, electrified by Thomas Freedman’s kettle drumming. Here, the rhythmic complexities daunted none of them, some barely 11 years old. Cllr Jeni Wood, introduced by Patrick Fleming, Chair of Henley Leichlingen Twinning Association, echoed everyone’s amazement at the standard achieved in the time.

The sense of miracle was no less apparent in the jazz workshops. Henley tutors, Andy Crowdy (bass) and Steve Waterman (trumpet), and Torsten Lehmen (sax) and Andreas Genschel (drums) from Leichlingen, coached three permutations of aspiring young jazz players into competent ensemble players and soloists. Each group played three pieces at Monday’s concert, the advanced one especially displaying a remarkably good grasp of modern jazz improvisation. The evening culminated in an awesome exposé of “How it’s done” by the four tutors, three of whom are professional jazz musicians of the highest calibre and a sheer privilege to learn from and hear.

Deputy Mayor, Martin Akehurst, was effusive in his admiration, while Andreas Genschel, Director of the Musikschule Leichlingen, exhorted all present not to allow the exchange to lose momentum. He for one would always keep Leichlingen’s half of the bargain.

The organisers said special thanks was to be extended to the Henley Educational Trust and the Henley Festival Trust for their generous financial support of the weekend’s events. For details of future events call (01491) 575165.

Henley/Leichlingen youth concerts

September 22 and 23

Trevor Howell

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