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Preview: Portsmouth Light Orchestra’s Spring Concert

25/03/2018

Musical Director Edward McDermott’s dabs are all over the programme for the Portsmouth Light Orchestra’s Spring Concert. So they should be. The choice of numbers to be played by the forty-strong ensemble reflects his musical background and extremely wide-ranging love of music.

When he was aged four, Ed sat through a recording on an old-fashioned gramophone of the Rite of Spring by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. He was completely captivated, transfixed and from that moment, his father knew he had a profound love of classical music. After a distinguished career as a Royal Marines Band Service Musician, Ed’s taste in music has broadened out considerably.

Opening the performance at the Admiral Lord Nelson School on Saturday 12th May 2018 is the overture from the Pirates of Penzance.  The music is by Arthur Sullivan. Son of a military band leader and a multi-instrumentalist, the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte teamed him up with W.S Gilbert who was a clever lyricist. Even though they couldn’t stand each other, it was a winning combination. The Savoy Theatre was built as a venue for this odd couple’s immensely popular comic operas. Despite Sullivan’s classical roots, it’s full of catchy tunes which the audience will love.

Ed McDermott is also an undoubted film buff. The PLO has included much film music in its performances in the past so it’s no surprise to see The Big Country on the menu.  The wide-open spaces feel of the main tune is sandwiched between frenetic fiddle playing in Jerome Moss’ popular work. Ride ‘em cowboys!!

Also of wide appeal is Nessun Dorma by Giacomo Puccini. Probably the most famous of all opera arias, it was made a global hit by Luciano Pavarotti belting it out at the 1990 FIFA World Cup.  An amusing Clog Dance by Ferdinand Herold will bring a smile to the faces of the audience.  It’s from a ballet called La Fille mal gardee (the Wayward Daughter) and gives PLO’s percussionist David Sherran a brief moment of glory.

There’s a miscellany of Lennon and McCartney tunes written cleverly in the style of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite which will appeal to Beatle fans.  There plenty more good stuff too, including the Evening Prayer by the real German composer Engelbert Humperdinck, not the middle-of-the road balladeer.  This features the fine, harmonious violin playing of the PLO’s leader Jenny Reeves and her violinist desk partner Maddy Lawrence.  There are bits from La Traviata, Bizet’s Symphony in C and much more besides.

So, if it’s variety you’re after put this concert in your diaries now.  Better still, telephone the PLO’s Queen of the Keyboard, Val Loft for tickets on 02392 371135.  Admission is a paltry £8 which includes tea, coffee, soft drink or water and a piece of cake.

Author: Stuart Reed
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