When it came to audience numbers, the odds were stacked against Portsmouth Light Orchestra at their concert at the Admiral Lord Nelson School on Saturday 12 May.
A rainy night, other concerts going on elsewhere and bumper television coverage of the dreaded Eurovision Song Contest all conspired to keep attendance figures down. Be that as it may, even though the large hall was just over half full, the thirty-five musicians on the platform were determined to entertain those loyal supporters who turned up. And entertain they certainly did.
The concert programme lived up to its preview. Under the baton of conductor Ed McDermott and the leadership of violinist Jenny Reeves, the show was full of variety and style. The whole performance was carried off with vigour and flair.
There were many stars of the show; too many to list them all. Percussionist David Sherran played a blinder on his newly purchased Chinese blocks in Ferdinand Herold’s Clog dance. He and timpanist David Newnham made the audience nearly jump out of their seats with their fortissimo drum bashing during David Heneker’s Flash, Bang, Wallop. This piece is a medley from that ever-popular musical, Half a Sixpence. All that was missing was Tommy Steele.
Pete Stevenson’s trumpet rendition of Puccini’s Nessum Dorma went down a treat and Jenny Reeves delicate violin playing added lustre to Humperdink’s Evening prayer. Flautists Claire Nicholas and Francis O’Sullivan made a significant contribution to many of the numbers.
Though it was well played by the whole ensemble, the Beatle Cracker Suite, a selection of Lennon and McCartney hits arranged in the style of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, may have left a few members of the audience slightly bemused.
Like a band within a band, the clarinet section performed a jaunty version of that folksy number Foggy Dew cleverly combining it with the nautical tune, Portsmouth. The harmonious quartet, Gina King, Alison Williams, Debbie Worley and Sara Hughes provided an unexpected, jolly bonus within the evening’s repertoire.
The programme ended triumphantly with the Redetzky March by Strauss. This was a surprise encore which had the audience clapping enthusiastically.
The Portsmouth Light Orchestra’s next concert is on Saturday 6 October at the Admiral Lord Nelson School. Spread the word. This orchestra deserves to be heard by more people.