Conductor: John Gibbons
Reviewer: Jenni Dixon
This concert was, as the title suggests, an evening of celebration dedicated to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Principle conductor John Gibbons lead the Worthing Symphony Orchestra through a traditional but recognisable playlist to the delight of classical addicts and intrigued newcomers.
The Orchestra were all dressed in black tie and held themselves in professional regard for the entire evening. This, for some, is what might be misconstrued as pomp and circumstance but there was a definite relaxed and welcoming atmosphere nonetheless.
John Gibbons studied at Queens` College, Cambridge, the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music. His conducting has taken him world-wide as well as with concerts for most of the major British orchestras. John came across as a man extremely passionate about his music and orated with ease to explain his passion and choices of music as well as his interpretation of the pieces performed. It was passion without preaching which only added to the relaxed atmosphere of the evening.
The piano concerto (No1. In B flat minor) by Tchaikovsky was led by pianist Ian Fountain. Ian has performed throughout Europe, the USA and far east with renowned Symphony and Philharmonic orchestras. He is a regular guest of international music festivals and has recently embarked on some performances as a conductor. He is now a piano professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Ian played the concerto with such ease and grace. He showed an astounding display of memory (no sheet music in front of him) as well as a stage presence that commanded respect for his formidable skill.
After the interval the audience was treated to a performance by the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2012, Laura van der Heijden on the cello. Laura is only 15 years old and attends the Royal College of Music at the weekends. Her dedication to music began at a very early age, completing her grade 8 exams for piano and cello at only eight years old. Fortnightly, she has intensive study sessions with the Great Russian cellist Leonid Gorokhov. In spite of her youth she gave a very mature performance clearly already used to the expectations of her skill. Her stage presence was difficult to compare to Mr Fountain’s due to the difference in music however and nerves may very well have played a factor but there was certainly something very slight missing. That said, she is clearly an outstanding musician.
This was perhaps a perfect way to spend a hot summer’s evening. The Assembly hall acoustics are apparently one of the best in Europe so sound quality was not an issue wherever you happened to be in the hall. Despite the stereotypes surrounding classical music, this was a tremendously relaxed and joyous evening suitable for both young and old.