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Rochdale Music Society

A Concord Of Sweet Music


a look back by Rosa Marie Staves

Two world premières and new-to-Rochdale arrangements of classics enriched the musical feast served up in style in Rochdale Parish Church on 7 May by the New London Chamber Ensemble at this penultimate concert in the Rochdale Music Society’s 2010-11 season.
The ensemble members, Robert Manasse (flute), Melanie Ragge (oboe), Neyire Ashworth (clarinet), Stephen Stirling (horn) and Adam Mackenzie (bassoon) are all distinguished soloists and orchestral section leaders who come together from time to time to provide audiences with the fine fare of music in wide-ranging styles performed – sometimes choreographed – with the ultimate in technical precision and interpretive discernment.

To begin the second half the players positioned themselves among the audience in different areas of the nave as they engaged in an enchanting performance of the oddball, American street musician Moodog’s “Birds of Paradise”.
Then they seated themselves to give the first performance of my Wind Quintet (2004), which was warmly received by the attentive audience. I have to say that the performance exceeded my imagination. And I am enormously grateful to these splendid musicians for having spent the considerable time and energy needed to bring to such a colourful and vibrant surface the inner conversations in musical terms that a composer seeks to share when putting notes on paper! I found myself asking, “Did I write that?” as they moved seemingly effortlessly and convincingly through the intricate web of melodic and harmonic challenges I had presented them with!
Ending the concert with Jim Parker’s “Mississippi Five” was just the right thing to round off an evening which had given obvious pleasure to audience and players alike. This five movement suite of tributes to classic jazz features was expertly executed with each player contributing his or her moment of bravura to a total display of the most New Orléans street-wise finesse.

by Graham Marshall

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