People’s choice for Tayside Symphony Orchestra

TSO conductor Andrew McGarva.
TSO conductor Andrew McGarva.

Over the years, Tayside Symphony Orchestra has earned a reputation for devising innovative programmes, writes Peter Clunie.

The concert in the Reid Hall last Saturday evening, which showcased a variety of works nominated by those who attended the February concert, was no exception.

In recognition of H.M.The Queen’s 90th Birthday, the programme opened with Handel’s ‘Overture to Music for the Royal Fireworks’, which was played in Westminster Abbey in June 1953 before the Coronation Service began.

This was a spirited introduction to the evening.

The top of the audience poll was the ‘Academic Festival Overture’ by Brahms and the orchestra successfully captured the amusing context of the traditional students’ songs rising to a superb climax with the rousing ‘Gaudeamus igitur.’

The string section, accompanied by some beautifully haunting harp passages, delivered a moving performance of Mahler’s ‘Adagietto’ from his 5th Symphony.

The first half of the concert concluded with Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, evoking memories of Torvill and Dean’s 1984 Olympic gold-winning ice dance performance.

The orchestra coped admirably with the relentless underpinning rhythm and the percussion and woodwind sections in particular are to be commended for their solo and combined passages.

The second half of the evening was devoted to Beethoven’s ‘5th Symphony.’

The 4 note introduction - instantly recognisable - immediately captured the audience’s attention and held it until the tumultuous climax of the third and final movement.

The presentation of the Ron Walker Bursary recognised the contribution to TSO made by Jordan Robertson (trombone) and Victoria Yeung (violin) who will be studying music in Glasgow and Cardiff respectively next year.

The audience and orchestra members were clearly dismayed by the announcement that Andrew McGarva had stepped down as Principal Conductor to relocate to Jersey.

Andrew has undoubtedly proven to be an inspirational conductor, bringing a professional blend of good humour, musicianship and patience to concerts since his appointment as Assistant, and latterly Principal, Conductor.

The respect and affection for Andrew was evident amongst the players and marked by the presentation of a gift.

Richard Allan, who is well-known in local music circles, has been appointed as Conductor and we look forward to joining the orchestra for the next concert on Saturday, September 24