Thursday, 18 August 2022

Lead violin switches to viola for concerto

WEST Forest Sinfonia makes its final appearance of the season at the Great Hall in London Road,

WEST Forest Sinfonia makes its final appearance of the season at the Great Hall in London Road, Reading, on Sunday (June 26), writes Simon Salisbury.

The concert will be conducted by principal conductor, Philip Ellis, and on this occasion the orchestra’s leader, Giles Wade, swaps his violin for a viola and appears as soloist in York Bowen’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra.

The concert begins with perhaps Arnold Bax’s best known orchestral work, Tintagel. Inspired by a six-week holiday in Cornwall and his love of Celtic and Nordic culture, the visit to Tintagel Castle on the north coast prompted Bax to write this grand symphonic poem.

The music certainly conveys the dramatic legends of King Arthur, the rugged coastline and the forces of nature. In Bax’s own words, the music gives the impression of “immense waves slowly gathering force until they smash themselves upon the impregnable rocks.” The work calls for a large orchestra and promises to be a very exciting start to the concert.

York Bowen was a contemporary of Arnold Bax. The viola concerto is one of a number of concertos written for the world famous violist, Lionel Tertis, who gave the world premiere in London in March 1908.

Although today York Bowen is not as well known as some of his fellow British contemporaries such as Vaughan-Williams, William Walton and Edward Elgar, he was regarded as a very promising composer. He certainly caught the eye of Saint-Saëns, who described him as “the most remarkable of the young British composers”.

It is to Camille Saint-Saëns that we look for the final work in this programme. His stunning and triumphant Symphony No 3, the great “Organ” symphony. This will prove to be a wonderful conclusion to our season of orchestral concerts and we do hope you will be able to join us for a 7.30pm start.

Tickets for Sunday’s concert are £15 for adults with concessions available, including a rate of £2.50 for students and under-18s. To book, call 0118 978 6189 or visit

• CONTRARY to last week’s report on page 30, headlined “Picnic to the sound of violinists”, the start time of Henley Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert at Shiplake College this Sunday (June 26) is 7pm, not 7.30pm. The grounds and bar will be open from 5.30pm.

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