thu 21/06/2018

Light Fantastic, BBCSO, Wilson, Royal Festival Hall/BBC Radio 3 | reviews, news & interviews

Light Fantastic, BBCSO, Wilson, Royal Festival Hall/BBC Radio 3

Light Fantastic, BBCSO, Wilson, Royal Festival Hall/BBC Radio 3

Superbly done froth and a bit of substance mark Festival of Britain anniversary

John Wilson: Taking light music to the highest levelChris Christodoulou

If Eric Coates’s Knightsbridge March is good enough for Gergiev, who conducted it as a saving-grace encore of a very messy World Orchestra for Peace Prom in 2005 (17 orchestral leaders in the first violins, not a happy gambit), then it’s certainly worth the time of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and one of its biggest sound-shapers. Bright spark John Wilson unhesitatingly claims Coates as his favourite light-music composer. But this concert served up more than just bubbles in the champagne of the Southbank’s Festival of Britain 60th anniversary celebrations; there was some decent semi-serious stuff on parade, too.

The central sweep of strings was exactly what you'd expect from a conductor and orchestra who've emulated the MGM sound so lushly

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Who'da thought it? Cannot believe I enjoyed this Light Music event as much as I did. Have now explored a bit more widely, and enjoying it all. I would also like to comment that this strengthening of my musical appreciation is, again, largely attributable to Mary King, Director of the Voicelab Southbank choirs: supported brilliantly by Laka D and the Voicelab admin team, the choirs sang selections from the best of English-(based) light music: Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann, and their own genius Radio Scat, based on radio themes, and including Workers' Playtime and the Archers! Just joyous, many thanks

Well, there's another choral spectacular that has to be cheaper and more rewarding than the telly Rocking Choir vanity project. Shame I couldn't have gone to even more. You may gather that I 'did' the above on the radio, and was curious to know the demographics of the audience. Saw Petroc T last night at - ouch - Two Boys and he said it was split between old-timers and younger folk who may put it in ironic inverted commas.

I only caught half of this concert by accident and it was truly amazing. John Wilson's enthusiasm for this music was wonderful to see and I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much. There was a lady in the front row of the audience who was clearly in raptures - as we all were who experienced this concert. Is it possible to get a DVD of the concert - or could the BBC be persuaded to air it again ? I have listened subsequently to various recordings of some of the music that was being played, but can't find any recordings which reach the same level of passion and enthusiasm. Thanks to all concerned. Best wishes, Simon Blyth

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