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WNO Family Concert – Town Hall, Birmingham

Conductor: Frederick Brown 

Reviewer: Tim Harding

Only four weeks left until the summer holiday starts.  And it turns out that it’s not just school children (and teachers!) who are getting ready for the break; orchestral musicians, it turns out, are already packing up ready for some summer sun.   Fortunately for us, before they fly off the members of the Welsh National Opera Orchestra are bringing some summer sun with them to Birmingham Town Hall this afternoon.

The musicians, led by bare-footed conductor Freddy Brown, treat us to a range of music from Harry Potter to The Ride of the Valkyries; a few fluffs here from the trumpets at the start of the concert, but these are the only bum notes in a tremendously entertaining afternoon that is received warmly by the audience, which ranges from babes-in-arms to grandparents.

Tom Redmond, himself a former professional horn player, is the lively presenter who encourages audience participation with many numbers, including body percussion for Herold’s Clog Dance and a full-on dancing-in-the-aisles routine for the entire audience in Steve Pickett’s Folk Dance Suite.  Seeing dads and daughters, mums and babes dancing together without worrying what they look like really is the point of this concert; music is bringing everyone together to have a great time.

When the audience is allowed to sit and relax, we can listen to the sublime Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana, and also enjoy choirs from four local primary schools joining the orchestra in Gareth Glyn’s lively Classy Classics.   The orchestra is also joined by tenor Adriano Graziani and soprano Linda Richardson for some opera classics including Nessun Dorma and Summertime.

Throughout, the WNO musicians are clearly having a great time letting their hair down on the platform rather than being hidden away in the pit. The joy in their playing, and Redmond’s infectiously enthusiastic presentation, really transmits itself out to the entire hall.

This is a tremendously fun way to introduce youngsters to concert going and hopefully, many of this audience will want to return and see similar concerts in the future.

Reviewed on 30 June 2019 | Image: Contributed

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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