Review: Lunchtime concert with Ulster Orchestra feeds appetite for excellence
Ulster Orchestra. Ulster Hall, Belfast
The Ulster Orchestra continued its successful lunchtime concert series in the well-attended Ulster Hall yesterday under the baton of the up-and-coming young American conductor Joshua Weilerstein.
Weilerstein's willowy but commanding presence was reminiscent of Rafael Payare - his brother-in-law and the Orchestra's musical director - as he guided the musicians through Mendelssohn's familiar and lively A Midsummer Night's Dream Overture.
The mood changed radically for Anna Clyne's sombre and impressive piece titled Within Her Arms, which brought out excellent ensemble playing by a small group of the Orchestra who were standing throughout the performance.
This was written shortly before the death of Anna's mother, and the deep sadness amid the beauty of this work was memorable.
This was followed by the wonderful Variations on a Shaker Melody, in which composer Aaron Copland recaptured all the vivacity, hope and joy of this hymn-like melody, which drew from the Orchestra some of the best playing of the entire recital.
There was yet another change of mood in Bernstein's rumbustious Three Dances from his Broadway musical On The Town.
Bernstein's colourful personal life was very much centred around the same New York 'town', and his musical genius still reigns supreme, as in this full-blooded performance by the Ulster Orchestra.
This short concert, just an hour long, underlined the talent and range of this excellent Orchestra, as well as the popularity of these lunchtime events. The next one is on Tuesday, November 21, so you'd better book soon.