Audience stirred with popular homage to Bond genre
Ulster Orchestra, Ulster Hall
Take a first-class orchestra, a distinguished conductor, plus talented soloists, a programme of Bond film music, and you will easily fill the Ulster Hall.
That's what happened on Saturday when the greatly-experienced Stephen Bell guided a top-form Ulster Orchestra through a 007 musical extravaganza.
At one level, the Bond music is the same as the sophisticated 'goodie versus baddies' movies. It belongs to a distinctive genre where loudness is king, but where the quiet beauty of a song like From Russia With Love makes its own impact.
Matt Ford did this from his first entrance when he sang this very song, and he continued to impress the rest of the evening.
Alison Jiear struggled at times to make herself heard over a loud and lively ensemble, but she was impressive in the second half, particularly in the Marvin Hamlisch classic Nobody Does It Better.
The pivotal figure all evening was the conductor Bell, who linked the programme expertly and eloquently, and exuded musical authority from the podium.
He paid a warm tribute to the musicians for their excellent performance on Saturday, and on their nomination for the Ensemble Award in the Royal Philharmonic Music Awards - a rare honour that local and other funders should note.
Saturday's fabulous finale was an exuberant performance of several of the main Bond themes, which left the audience shaken and stirred into rapturous applause.