August 6th 2017
St Oswalds Church Sowerby
Sunday the 6th of August was a lovely day for the revived Thirsk Festival on the Flatts, and as well as the outdoor fun and games, Thirsk Sinfonia held a free concert at St Oswald's Church. It was an absolute delight to hear this local orchestra play on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The programme was a selection of music for oboe and strings, with the strings very ably led by Sarah Reece and the oboe beautifully played by Philip Cull. We enjoyed music by Albinoni, Bach and Ennio Morricone. Philip is a founder member of the Thirsk Sinfonia, who teaches not only at Durham and Newcastle Universities, but also at our local primary and secondary schools. The Thirsk Sinfonia are back in action on the 30th September when they will be playing Ravel, Mahler and Beethoven at Sowerby Methodist Church. Tickets are availble in advance from White Rose Books, so come and enjoy hearing this local orchestra which is growing from strength to strength.
Saturday 18th February
THIRSK SINFONIA AT THE RITZ CINEMA THIRSK
An historic musical event at the Ritz Cinema in Thirsk, taking this institution back to the first decades of its' 100 year plus history. The accomplished semi-professional orchestra faced the daunting task of providing suitably dramatic music to accompany the silent version of the 1929 Alfred Hitchcock film "Blackmail". Crammed into the limited space between the front stalls at the screen, the players had to work hard, there are not many pieces in their repertoire that require an hour and a quarter of continuous playing (we are into the realms of Mahler and Bruckner here!) in a piece where the pace and character of the music continuously varies to suit the action, and if they missed a beat, I was too engaged by the film to notice it! This is probably the first time that a full orchestra has ever played to a film at the Ritz; there are no surviving records, but the atmosphere was probably only ever enhanced by a lady piano player in black bombazine! The score was specially composed by Neil Brand, the leading expert on film music of all periods and the man charged with keeping his eye simultaneously on the screen action, the score and the players was conductor George Morton. The event was hard work for all concerned - but as an overall experience, the effort was worth it. The score was well integrated into the action - none of the traditional hackneyed improvisation. The film itself, although being very much of it's period, was recognisable as a Hitchcock production. His own traditional appearance in the background of all of his films is here - as a passenger in a London Tube train; and it is highlighted in the score by a subtle quotation from the theme tune from the Hitchcock television series "Funeral March for a Marionette" by Charles Gounod. The orchestra invested much time and money into this event - the rights to the score and the film (beautifully restored by the British Film Institute) added to the usual costs. It is unusual for a cinema audience to get the chance to applaud, but they did, and enthusiastically!
A Night at the Theatre
For saying that Thirsk Sinfonia Orchestra have only been playing together for just over a year, what a performance they gave on Saturday 18th February in the Ritz Cinema in Thirsk!
They played live to Alfred Hitchcock's silent movie Blackmail and it was a privilege to be in the audience. Their timing was impeccable and the score played perfectly with the film building the suspense and sense of tragedy. Everyone was captured by the atmosphere they created; no small feat of achievement. As I left I heard one attendee say" it was easy to forget the orchestra were playing live!". High praise indeed.
Bravo TSINFONIA and roll on the next performance!