Friday, 12 August 2016

Article published in Manchester Evening News 12 August 2016


SYMPHONY orchestra concerts are thin on the ground in the north west in the summer months (and that’s an understatement!), but Buxton Opera House is boldly going where few others venture and putting on the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on August 20.

The theatre also hosts the Hallé Orchestra with its ‘Pops’ conductor Stephen Bell, on September 18, in a gala fund-raising concert for the Blythe House Hospice, and the RLPO will be back in November. Links between Buxton and the Liverpool musicians have been built up and are set to continue.

I talked to Carol Prowse, a New Mills resident and chairman of the High Peak Theatre Trust, which runs the Opera House in Buxton. She’s been involved with it for more than 30 years, previously as assistant company secretary, company secretary, director and deputy chairman.

“Balance in our programmes is important,” she said, “and to me providing high-quality classical music is an essential part of the programme we offer.

“The RLPO had a weekend residency in the town last November, including a performance by Ensemble 10/10, its own contemporary music group, and that was very well received. For it we introduced the concept of a ‘gardens ticket’ – you buy a ticket for the central dress circle or upper circle and also get pre-show and interval drinks – which went very well.

“Our other classical commitments are to English Touring Opera and of course the annual Buxton Festival, which is the heart of everything for us.”

The RLPO’s programme next week is a tribute to Johann Strauss, the ‘waltz king’. It’s introduced by Classic FM presenter and author John Suchet and directed from the violin by James Clark, the orchestra leader, in the style of Strauss himself.

Its visit on November 9 is in a concert conducted by Cristian Mandeal, the brilliant Romanian who was the Hallé’s first chief guest conductor and remembered with respect and affection by Manchester audiences.

The programme includes Brahms’s third symphony, Debussy’s Prélude á l’Après-Midi d’un Faune, and Mozart’s clarinet concerto (soloist is Benjamin Mellefont, the RLPO’s own principal clarinet).

The RLPO is proud of its history, going back to the formation of a private concerts society in 1840 (not very long after the Manchester equivalent), and justly proud of its present chief conductor, Vasily Petrenko. Ensemble 10/10 is conducted by the Royal Northern College of Music’s top maestro, Clark Rundell.


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