'Amateurs' impress with ambitious programme
Studio Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Hall
The Studio Symphony Orchestra, led by Ottoline Maas and conducted by David Openshaw, undertook an ambitious programme in the on Saturday and carried it out impressively.
The orchestra was founded in 1947 by Dr Havelock Nelson and friends as the Studio String Orchestra and has developed remarkably to become a regular performer on the local musical scene.
Glinka's Ruslan And Ludmilla literally set the tone with a fine flourish, followed by an outstanding performance of Tchaikovsky's challenging Violin Concerto by Ioana Petcu-Colan, the associate leader of the Ulster Orchestra, with sensitive backing from the ensemble.
Over the years Ulster Orchestra players have worked with the amateur musicians in the Studio Symphony.
Openshaw, a former timpanist with the Ulster Orchestra, learned much from other conductors including George Hurst, Bryden Thomson and Vernon Handley.
He steered the Studio Symphony through a fine evening of music-making, with an impressive performance of Walton's Crown Imperial, and finally a memorable performance of Elgar's Enigma Variations, with the mighty Mulholland Organ thrillingly in full flow.
The night before the Ulster Orchestra had given a stunning performance of Elgar's First Symphony under the baton of Dutch maestro Jac van Steen in the same venue, but on Saturday the well-filled Ulster Hall truly belonged to the Studio Symphony.