Beautiful Solo by Lizzie Daniels

February 5, 2016

The annual visit of the Southbank Sinfonia is hugely anticipated by all the students involved. For two days the side-by-side arrangement requires real commitment and concentration by all of the players.

As strange as it seems, this does not appear to create exhaustion but rather lift the spirits through their shared enthusiasm. Many of the students also benefited from individual coaching sessions, which is particularly inspiring when given by someone so close in age.

Saturday night simply buzzed with excitement. I have rarely seen the Memorial Hall so full. Opening the concert was Brasser, conducted by Alex Arkwright. Here we enjoyed both English pastoral charm and the vigour of spirited dance-like folksongs in Vaughan Williams' Suite. Clarity and synchronisation are never easy with wind instruments because of the onset of notes but here the players were united in their efforts and the end result sparkled.

The Chamber orchestra was beautifully led by Adrian Eales who appeared to be relishing one of the genre's most-loved works. The Serenade for Strings is an essential part of every string player's education and the performers will never forget the experience of playing alongside the Southbank Sinfonia. Together they produced a beautifully warm sound so appropriate for Elgar.

Beethoven's Violin Concerto is one of the greatest challenges for any young violinist. Lizzie Daniels, the soloist certainly rose to that challenge. She owned the stage in a 20-minute movement which demonstrated maturity, technical brilliance and stamina. The most remarkable aspect of her performance was the grace and undemonstrative manner in which she revealed her compelling vision of the work to the rapt audience. Her exceptional abilities allowed her to be the true servant of the music.

To bring the concert to a close, we were treated to a passionate rendition of Smetana's 'Vltava' from Ma Vlast. Philip Dukes conducted the Symphony Orchestra in a highly disciplined and richly coloured performance where the only splashing to be heard was from the watery motifs, which represent the journey of the river.
Audience and performers alike left in a buoyant mood and we all look forward to next year's creative collaboration.

Clare Toomer
Deputy Head of Music

Beautiful Solo by Lizzie Daniels
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