Review: Ulster Orchestra Christmas concert a real festive treat
The Ulster Hall began its busy Christmas season with a somewhat surprising - but still memorable - concert for a near-capacity audience at the Ulster Hall.
The surprise was that the scheduled programme, featuring Beethoven's Violin Concerto in the first half, had been changed to Bruch's Violin Concerto No 1, plus, the welcome addition of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony.
Under the direction of its Musical Director, the Ulster Orchestra gave a measured and stately performance in the earlier movements, before the truly classical fireworks of the finale.
The young Armenian soloist, Sergev Khacatryan, gave a superb performance of the Bruch, and followed this with an encore of an Armenian song, which held the audience spellbound.
In the second half, Rafael Payare and the Orchestra made the most of Tchaikovsky's so-called "Polish Symphony", which in many ways is the least characteristic of his symphonies.
The next day, the Ulster Orchestra showed its versatility, with two sparkling Christmas concerts for hundreds of happy children, packed in for The Snowman in the Waterfront Hall.
It seems a long way from Tchaikovsky to Jingle Bells but the Orchestra travelled lightly under the baton of its Associate Conductor, Christopher Bell, a serious musician and great showman.