Orchestra ends another successful season on high note
The Ulster Orchestra, Ulster Hall
The Ulster Orchestra - under star principal conductor Rafael Payare - ended its successful 2015-16 season on Friday with an outstanding performance of Beethoven and Berlioz to yet another capacity audience in the Ulster Hall.
People were plugged into the performance in more ways than one because the orchestra's management thoughtfully provided earplugs for those who might have found it difficult to bear the loud noise of bells in the final movement. The bells, situated on the back balcony behind the audience -and only a few feet from this reviewer's right ear - were indeed loud, but we all survived to tell the tale.
There was a buzz about this concert which was reminiscent of the orchestra's glory days before the threat of financial annihilation which has loomed large in the past couple of years.
However, there was only joy in this performance under the baton of the maestro Pavare.
The first half was devoted to a crisp and clear interpretation of Beethoven's perhaps lesser-played Fourth Symphony, which nevertheless remains a masterpiece in its own right.
The Berlioz orchestral showpiece, the Symphony Fanatastique, opened with such mesmeric attention to detail that it almost masked the strong main theme, but then all the subtlety, passion and power of this truly fantastic symphony emerged in a blaze of glory to end a remarkably good season for the orchestra.
The conductor and players received a deserved standing ovation, and all they need now is financial support for their 50th anniversary Season which begins in September.
Hopefully the presence of a senior Executive minister and Ulster Orchestra enthusiast at this concert augurs well for the future.