A SELECTION OF PREVIOUS CONCERTS AND REVIEWS.

Saturday 25 November 2017 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

Special Concert supported by

the Joanna Leach Foundation.

 

Isca Ensemble with Roger Hendy (MD)

with

Emmanuel Bach - violin 

 

SIBELIUS : VIOLIN CONCERTO

Brahms : Academic Festival Overture

Brahms : Symphony No. 4

 

A capacity audience enjoyed a superb concert featuring the violinist, Emmanuel Bach

who received a standing ovation.

Review - East DevonPress.

Packed church hears great programme of music.

 

Sidmouth Parish Church was well packed with concert-goers on Saturday evening last to hear a terrific programme of music delivered by the ISCA ensemble, enlarged to cope with the increased orchestration of the pieces played. Music Director Roger Hendy programmed three excellent and popular works for this event aimed at providing additional funds to Hospiscare through a retiring collection.

 

The jubilant and cheerful Academic Festival Overture by Brahms opened the proceedings. The orchestra worked through the more stately opening themes to revel in the boisterous subsequent sections. Worthy of mention were the fanfares and good contributions from both brass and percussion. The piece raised academic eyebrows at its premiere but has been a firm concert favourite ever since.

 

Emmanuel Bach has become a regular visitor to Sidmouth through the ISCA ensemble and we have seen his confidence and ability grow thanks to coaching from top flight ensembles and workshops with famous conductors and players. In Sibelius’ Violin Concerto therefore, not an easy piece to cope with, he gave a strong and commanding performance, enough to have a good proportion of the audience on their feet at the end. He and the orchestra built up the power and drama of the opening well, made an eloquent slow movement and, with good support from the lower strings, a strong and confident finale.

 

After the interval Roger and his orchestra concluded with more Brahms; his ever popular 4th Symphony. Perhaps we can see why Brahms might have thought he would not surpass this in any other symphonic work for it to be his final symphony.

 

The strings created a lyrical opening to the first movement and continued in building up to its grand climax. In the slow second movement the brass and wind drew out the heroic and romantic nature of the folk idioms written in it. The third movement is another full blooded affair with ebullient cascades from brass and wind sections.

 

The players did not fail in the finale, maintaining their momentum to bring this fine piece to a triumphant conclusion.

SHS.

Saturday 13 May 2017 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

The 2017 Joanna Leach Memorial Concert.

 

Isca Ensemble with Roger Hendy (MD)

 

ANDREAS BOYDE - piano

 

Mozart :  Overture 'Marriage of Figaro' K 492

Beethoven : Piano Concerto No 4, Op 58

Haydn :  Symphony No 102 in B flat major

Dvořák : Czech Suite Op. 39. 

 

Sponsored by the Joanna Leach Music Foundation.

Review.

 

ISCA CLOSE SEASON ON A HIGH.

 

The ISCA Ensemble, with musical director Roger Hendy, gave the 2017 Joanna Leach Memorial Concert last Saturday in Sidmouth Parish Church, closing their current season and producing over £500 from the retiring collection for the work of Hospiscare.

 

The Ensemble started their programme enthusiastically with a vigorous performance of Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro. The popular tumble of tunes poured out with great jollity.

 

The main work was Beethoven’s piano concerto no 4, featuring pianist Andreas Boyde, who has built his reputation with electrifying performances for many of London’s leading orchestras. Pianist and orchestra were excellent together, Boyde’s articulate keyboard work producing a crisp and clear performance throughout the piece; the ensemble showing they had the mastery of the necessary gradations of light and shade in their playing.

 

Each of the three movements had its high points. Boyde’s cadenza playing was a consummate display of technical skill in the first. It was probably he also who set the more measured pace of the andante second which, with sympathetic orchestral support, gave it an added measure of gravitas to great effect. The lively third went at a good brisk pace, finishing with a flourish of great exuberance from both pianist and orchestra.

 

After the interval came Haydn’s symphony no 102. The orchestra developed the vigorous main section in exemplary fashion, as they did with the intricate and elegant adagio movement which followed.  The minuet movement danced playfully as it should before the almost unexpectedly jaunty finale brought the piece to an end.

 

The final work was Dvorak’s Czech suite, a set of pieces inspired by the folk music of his homeland. The orchestra excelled here too. The prelude was a smooth and graceful pastoral setting reminiscent of the gentle drone of bagpipes. In the polka the players developed the dance from its slow beginning to a lively end. The minuet presented rounds of happy country dances. The beautiful Romance gently led to the finale, a furiant which built up to an energetic and boisterous conclusion to the work, the concert and a very successful season.

 

SH-S.

Saturday 11th. March 2017 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

Special Concert supported by

the Joanna Leach Foundation

 

     Beethoven : Romance in F  for violin and orchestra

     Bruch : Kol Nidre for viola and orchestra

     Mozart :  Sinfonia Concertante K 364

     De Falla :  Suite El sombrero de tres picos

               (The Three-Cornered Hat  Suites 1 & 2)

     Bizet : Carmen (extracts).

 

    Amarins Wierdsma - violin          Christoph Slenczka - viola

                   from the Netherlands                                           from Germany

Amarins Wierdsma - violin.

 

Amarins born in 1991 to conductor Oane Wierdsma and clarinetist Nancy Braithwaite, began playing the violin at the age of two. After studying with Coosje Wijzenbeek and Vera Beths in the Netherlands she is now pursuing an Artist Diploma at the Guildhall School of Music and drama with David Takeno, having completed her Master’s degree there with distinction.

 

Amarins has taken part in many masterclasses including the International Music Seminar Prussia Cove, The International Holland Music Sessions, London Masterclasses, Keshet Eilon, and Imuse Enghien among many others. She is also lucky to have been invited to participate in the East Neuk Festival in Fife and Open Chamber Music Prussia Cove. In April 2013 Amarins was awarded the third prize at the Dutch national violin competition Oskar Back. The jury complimented her on her large stage presence and personality and on her interesting playing full of temperament and spirit. Other prizes include first prizes during the Iordens Viooldagen, the Davina van Wely violin competition and the Princess Christina Competition and the Young Music Talent of the Year prize of the Netherlands.

 

In October 2012 Amarins was awarded the Kersjes Scholarship, a Dutch scholarship awarded to a promising young violinist or violist every year. Amarins is the first violinist of the London based Barbican String Quartet. The Quartet is part of the ProQuartet Scheme in Paris and the Belcea Quartet Scheme. They have taken part in IMS Prussia Cove, where they worked with Rita and Ferenc Rados. Upcoming performances include recitals at Wigmore hall, supported and organized by the Musicians Company and Masie Lewis Trust. Amarins is not only very active as a chamber musician , she has also performed as soloist with orchestra in concertos by Bruch, Bach, Vivaldi, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Sibelius among others. During the final of the Oskar Back competition she was the soloist with the orchestra of the conservatory of Amsterdam in Brahms’ violin concerto.

 

After winning the Westbourne Concerto Competition this fall, Amarins will perform Brahms’ violin concerto twice in Bournemouth this summer. Other concert appearances include concertos by Mendelssohn and Prokofiev among others. In April of the year 2011 Amarins went on tour with pianist Didel Bish and soprano, Nikki Treurniet, to The United States on invitation of the Netherlands-America Foundation. Amarins traveled to Porto, Portugal twice. Once with her piano trio, Strings Attached, and in 2015 with the Barbican String Quartet to represent the Conservatory of Amsterdam and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at Harmos Festival. Representing the International Holland Music Sessions, Amarins performed together with Victor Alsén and Ole Christian Hagenrud for the Dutch Queen Beatrix in March 2013.

 

Together with Sophiko Simsive, piano, Amarins went on a tour to Indonesia, organized by the Dutch Erasmus Huis and she has recently been selected for the TIHMS Masters on Tour, bringing her to the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and Bratislava Concert halls in May 2017. Amarins has participated in masterclass from many musicians , including Herman Krebbers, Gyorgy Pauk, Mark Lubotski, Emmy Verhey, Philippe Graffin, David Takeno, Krzysztof Wegrzyn, Petru Munteanu, Patinka Kopec, Mi-Kyung Lee, Isabelle van Keulen, Gerhard Schulz, Nikolaj Znaider, Viviane Hagner, Ferenc Rados, Andras Keller, Pierre Amoyal, Ivry Gitlis and Anner Bijlsma, from whom she often receives lessons on works by J. S. Bach. Amarins plays on a violin which she has on loan from the National Music instrument foundation.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christoph Slenczka - viola.

 

Christoph was born 1992 in Germany and began playing the violin at the age of 5. He has studied the violin with Prof. Conrad von der Goltz as a fellow of the Bayerischen Frühförderklasse, a program for gifted young musicians. In 2010 he decided to change to the Viola and started to studying with Prof. Thomas Riebl in the University Mozarteum Salzburg where in his second yar won the 3rd prize In the Mozarteum international competition. He has participated in master classes with Hariolf Schlichtig, Barbara Westphal, Ivry Gitlis, Tatjana Masurenko, Hartmut Rohde and Nils Mönkemeyer and has received further guidance from Rainer Schmidt and Reinhard Goebel.

 

As a chamber musician he performed with musicians such as Enrico Bronzi, Giovanni Gnocchi, Esther Hoppe and Wolfgang Redik. He performed several times in the Salzburger Kammermusik Festival and was invited to play alongside Nicolas Altstaed, Pekka Kuusisto, Ilya Gringlots, James Boyd, Benjamin Schmid and others at the Kammermusikfest Lockenhaus. In 2014 Christoph performed the Tabula Rasa by Arvo Pärt as Soloist with the Sinfonieorchester der Universität Mozarteum Salzburg.

 

He is currently studying in the masters programme with Prof. David Takeno at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Christoph plays a Viola made by the German luthier Bernd Hiller. He is also a member of the Barbican String Quartet based in London.

Review.

ISCA CONCERT HELPS RESTORE VICTORIA WINDOW.

Visit by the Bishop of Crediton.

 

With every concert in Sidmouth Parish Church the ISCA Ensemble seems to go from strength to strength under the tireless guidance of Musical Director Roger Hendy. Saturday last was no exception in an enthralling programme with two visiting and very fine soloists, Dutch violinist Amarins Wierdsma and German violist Christoph Slenczka. The special guest of honour was Revd Dame Sarah Mullally visiting the church as the new Bishop of Crediton.

Beethoven’s Romance for violin and orchestra was Amarins’ opportunity to shine, opening as sweetly as one could wish. She excelled in her solo role but, what a refreshing change, she also played along with the orchestra between her solo spots; this was sheer enjoyment for her. The audience clearly appreciated the close integration between soloist and orchestra.

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin, viola and orchestra introduced Christoph. From the start the two again played in with the orchestra. In their solo roles they showed excellent co-ordination passing phrases back and forth between themselves. Their complete awareness of each other, from their experience as players in the Barbican String Quartet, added to the joy of the exuberant first movement which earned appreciative applause before moving on to the gracefully spiritual slow movement. The finale returned to more joyous mood with the lighthearted themes passed between soloists and orchestra.

Rector Philip Bourne then explained the benefit of this and other Isca Ensemble concerts in helping meet the church’s £6,000 outstanding burden from the restoration of the Victoria window. This also provided a window of escape for Amarins who had to travel to play in the Amsterdam Concertgbouw the next day! 

The first half closed with the familiar theme of Bizet’s Carmen Suite enthusiastically introduced by the percussion, setting the tone for the hugely enjoyable mix of pieces from the opera.

After the break Christoph returned to the platform for Bruch’s Kol Nidrei, a hauntingly beautiful piece drawn from Jewish tradition. He got exactly the feel of the work, his viola singing clearly and sweetly through the long beautiful phrases.

Roger and his players brought the evening to a resounding conclusion with de Falla’s suites from The Three Cornered Hat. From the opening fanfare of brass and timpani they caught the jaunty, swaggering, swaying Spanish rhythms of the work right through to the triumphal end; a thoroughly enjoyable performance.

Stephen Huyshe-Shires.

Saturday 26th. November 2016 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

Special Concert sponsored by the Joanna Leach Foundation

 

Copland - Appalachian Spring

Bruch - Violin Concerto No 1

SIBELIUS - Symphony No 5

 

Joo Yeon Sir - soloist

 

Winner of the prestigious The Arts Club Karl Jenkins Classical Music Award 2014 in association with Classic FM and The President's Award presented by HRH The Prince of Wales, Korean-born British violinist Joo Yeon Sir has performed as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician at major venues across the UK including Wigmore Hall, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, St James's Piccadilly, Fairfield Halls, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Gallery and St James's Palace in the presence of HRH The Prince of Wales. In 2006, aged sixteen, Joo Yeon was overall Grand Prix Laureate at the Nedyalka Simeonova International Violin Competition in Bulgaria, where her gala performance was broadcast on Bulgarian National Radio. Since then, she has won numerous competitions and awards across Europe including the Making Music Philip & Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists, Tillett Trust Young Concert Artist Platform, Royal Philharmonic Society Emily Anderson Award and Isolde Menges Prize. Joo Yeon has twice won the prestigious Concerto Competition at the Royal College of Music, where she currently studies with Dr. Felix Andrievsky on the Artist Diploma programme as Constant & Kit Lambert Junior Fellow 2014-2015 awarded by The Worshipful Company of Musicians.

Saturday 30th. April 2016 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

 

Bach plays Bach

 

Emmanuel Bach - violin

 

Strings of the Isca Ensemble directed by

Emmanuel Bach and Roger Hendy.

 

A very special chamber concert for HOSPISCARE.

Vivaldi : 'The Four Seasons'

Bach : Violin Concerto in A minor

Bartok : Romanian Dances

Elgar : Chanson de matin

Walton : Touch her soft lips and part 

             Passaglia Death of Falstaff

Respighi : Airs and Country Dances No. 3

Saturday 5th. March 2016 at 7.30 p.m.

Special Concert sponsored by the Joanna Leach Foundation.

 

This Concert was in aid of HOSPISCARE

The programme included

Glinka : Overture : Ruslan and Ludmilla
Paul Hindemith - Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Von Weber

RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS  - A LONDON SYMPHONY

Review. Archant Press 2016.

As seems to be the norm in the staging of its full-scale Sidmouth orchestral concerts, the Isca Ensemble under its regular conductor, Roger Hendy presented an extremely ambitious and exciting programme on Saturday 5th. March in the Parish Church for Hospiscare. This is the fourth time I have heard this local orchestra whilst visiting Devon and on Saturday the Ensemble was on top form. Its players and MD must have put in hours of practice to prepare for such a rich and extremely challenging programme only to succeed in accomplishing it with considerable aplomb. Glinka's magical Overture 'Ruslan and Ludmilla' opened the programme amply displaying the versatility and skill of all sections of the orchestra. Taken at a brisk pace, it was performed with enormous confidence and accuracy with the strings managing those exposed and difficult passages with comparative ease, thus contributing to a delightful starter.

Roger Hendy then introduced the next piece to the audience, the Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes by Carl von Weber, allowing them to listen to a preview of some of the thematic material of this rarely heard but stunning piece. Although by its thematic material it belongs squarely in the European tradition, it was composed with the virtuosity of American symphony orchestras in mind. Fortunately, I was one of very few in the audience sufficiently familiar with this work and therefore knew in advance what the Isca players had taken on. It is quite remarkable that a local amateur orchestra can even attempt to play such a complex work which I know some leading London orchestras would have problems with! Isca pulled off a most magnificent performance which had the audience buzzing during the ensuing interval. From the opening bars, the Ensemble was out to show what it could really achieve captivating our attention with the music's pulsating and intoxicating rhythms. The resonance and vibrancy the orchestra achieved in this beautiful church was something really special. The complex Turandot which followed utilising an admirable full percussion section, fully explored the rich harmonies and hypnotic qualities of Hindemith’s unique orchestration. Roger Hendy admirably steered his players through the concluding finely-shaped graded crescendo with all sections building to create a rich and very satisfyingly intense sound. The beautifully crafted slow movement with exquisite flute obligato followed which allowed only temporary respite before the final boisterous March which was rounded off with great panache and memorable strong string and brass contributions. The final extremely fast-moving triplet passage accompaniment by the woodwind for the swooping horns was also most enjoyable.

As if to underline the versatility of the orchestra, the final chosen work in the concert was the famous and programmatic 'London Symphony' by Ralph Vaughan Williams written in 1913 just before the outbreak of World War I. Right from the very opening pianissimo bars in the strings with the eerie harmonic Westminster Chimes of the harp, the performance was a highly charged and very emotional experience. The long and very intense, often sinister opening movement was well developed - the woodwind and brass uplifting the sections depicting the growing boisterousness of the great metropolis. The idyllic slow movement which, as the programme notes suggested, is arguably some of VW's finest writing, was again very well blended by the Ensemble with some nice contributions by the strings, solo horn and other woodwind instruments.  After a bustling and exciting scherzo, the performance of the final movement reached another terrific high with great attention to dynamics and tempi. The final Epilogue gradually wound down to a most exquisite and soft conclusion as the sun set over London. The performance received a well deserved long reception by a most appreciative audience.

I hope to travel from London again, return to Sidmouth and catch another performance by this admirable band of players. I see from the programme that the orchestra next performs in Sidmouth on 30 April when the strings team up with the violinist, Emmanuel Bach from London. I must make the effort to attend.

Sponsored by the JOANNA LEACH FOUNDATION.

28 Saturday 2015 November at 7.30 p.m.

in Sidmouth Parish Church.

 

EMMANUEL BACH - violin

 

SIBELIUS : 'VALSE TRISTE'

TCHAIKOVSKY : VIOLIN CONCERTO

BEETHOVEN : SYMPHONY NO. 3 'Eroica'

 

 

Tickets are obtainable in advance from Paragon Books, Sidmouth 01395 514516, by post using the booking form (on the left) or direct email roghendy@gmail.com

 

This Concert was in aid of HOSPISCARE

Concert Review.

 

ISCA MAGIC WORKS AGAIN.

 

 Music Director of the ISCA ensemble, Roger Hendy, worked his magic again with his orchestra and a repeat visit by solo violinist Emmanuel Bach in Sidmouth Parish Church. The concert last Saturday evening was an opportunity for this rising star to shine, and within the orchestra Roger had also recruited young players to gain experience in performance which they all did commendably well. The concert attracted a full house.

 

The concert opened with Sibelius’ Valse Triste, a piece written to accompany the play Kuolema (Death). The strings were rich and mournful in the delicate opening, the eerie dance rhythms reinforced as the full orchestra took the piece to its tragic conclusion. The pianissimo playing was exceptionally fine and wonderfully crafted.

 

From its first writing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto has presented a mountain for all to climb, but Emmanuel Bach showed no fear as he launched authoritatively into the challenge with the orchestra confidently backing him up. He sensibly took a measured pace and had the audience spellbound in his cadenza before the first movement closed triumphantly to a spontaneous outbreak of applause. The second was an absorbing movement, Emmanuel finding the right soulfulness in the melody. Moving straight into the finale where the vigorous gypsy dance was confidently executed, the wise choice of pace enabled soloist and orchestra to form a tight and measured ensemble and work up the frenzy bringing the piece successfully to its whirlwind ending.

 

Players and audience all drew breath during the interval before the orchestra presented its final work, Beethoven’s Eroica symphony. The ensemble got off to a bright and fulsome start, catching the triumphal mood of the first movement. The funeral march was suitably sombre, woodwind here making an expressive contribution as they had throughout the performance. The scherzo was bright and brisk, with the horns adding rusticity to the hunting theme. The pizzicato opening to the finale was nicely tight, and the whole movement was very well managed particularly the crescendo build up to the driven ending.

S.S. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Saturday 3rd. October 2015 at 7.30 p.m.

 Special Concert sponsored by the Joanna Leach Foundation

 

THE BEEHIVE, Honiton

 

'A TOUCH OF VIENNA'

 

BEETHOVEN : SYMPHONY NO. 5
 

Selection of music by JOHANN STRAUSS

Saturday 21st. March 2015 at 7.30 p.m.

 

Sidmouth Parish Church, East Devon.

 

Elgar [Handel transcr.] : Overture in D minor

SIBELIUS : SYMPHONY NO. 3

Khachaturian : Extracts from 'Masquerade Suite'

Smetana : Vltava ('The Moldau')

Arnold : Four Scottish Dances

Saturday 29th. November 2014 at 7.30 p.m.

 

Sidmouth Parish Church, East Devon.

 

Alfie Pugh : Aegean Fantasies

Specially commissioned work  

Beethoven :  Piano Concerto No 5 'Emperor' 

Mark Bebbington (International pianist)

Schumann : Symphony No. 4

Critique.
ISCA EXCEL
 
Recent performances by the ISCA ensemble, under its musical director Roger Hendy, have been remarkable for demonstrating how an amateur orchestra can raise its game for a visiting soloist. Last Saturday night in Sidmouth Parish Church the orchestra played probably as well as I have ever heard them, producing a powerful and inspired performance around their piano soloist Mark Bebbington.
Mark has played in East Devon several times, including concerti performances with Roger Hendy in Exeter, and on Saturday he played Beethoven’s mighty ‘Emperor’ concerto.
 
The programme began however with a premiere performance of a work by Alfie Pugh, bassoonist in the ensemble who, when not playing music, is absorbed in composition. ‘Aegean Fantasies’ was commissioned by Roger Hendy for this performance. The three movements provide a lyrical, melodic and lush portrait of Alfie’s programmatic intents.
 
‘The Peddlers’ is a busy, active epitome of the hustle and bustle of a coastal fishing village whilst ‘Halicarnassus’ is an enchanting nocturne evoking the serenity of a night in an ancient city. The finale, announced emphatically by the percussion, launches headlong into the stormy waters besetting ‘The Voyagers’ of its title. The orchestra did ample justice to their colleague’s composition, providing the lushness, the energy and the serenity as required. Alfie acknowledged the audience’s appreciation at the end, receiving a well-deserved bottle of champagne from his colleagues in celebration of his great achievement.
 
One cannot but be impressed on hearing the ‘Emperor’ piano concerto. I realised part way in that I had stopped writing and was simply listening such was the quality of this performance. If I quibble over some minor untidiness here and there from Mark Bebbington, that is all it is. His playing in the Adagio was exquisite before the punch and drive into the infectious final movement which never ceases to appeal to the listener. He gave what seemed a thoughtful and studied performance supported throughout by a very confident and assertive orchestra, vigorous and animated right to the final chords.
 
The second half was given to Schumann’s fourth symphony, a work withdrawn by the composer disappointed with its unsatisfactory debut and then rewritten into a fuller and tighter orchestration. Played without break, the four movements were given the buoyancy and gusto they needed in a full blooded rendition by the players.
 
Once again Roger Hendy and the ISCA players showed their real prowess in a sterling performance. Power to their elbows!
 
SHS.

Ensemble commissions a new work.

  

Devon composer ALFIE PUGH

was commissioned to produce

a new work for this concert.

'Aegian Fantasies'

For full orchestra in three short movements.

 

Visit Alfie's website

www.alfiepugh.co.uk

 

 

Born in East Devon (1989), Alfie Pugh has been composing and arranging since 2000, aged 10. Almost entirely self-taught, he is an expert on Sibelius notation software and has written for many professional, university and county youth ensembles.

 

In March 2011, Alfie won the Charities Philharmonia composition competition with his full-orchestral piece, ‘Vasilisa The Beautiful’. The competition was run in association with the charity Dreams Come True and Classic FM. The piece was performed in December 2011 at St John's, Smith Square in London in a concert that also included Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel and Holst's The Planets.

In 2012, Alfie graduated from Bath Spa University with a first class degree in Music. He was also awarded the Robert Blackburn prize for outstanding composition. During his time at Bath Spa his final project was to write a composition portfolio, which included a piece commissioned by the contemporary music group Plus/Minus, the Christmas carol Star of the East, which was sung in Bath Abbey, and the 5 Dioramas for clarinet and piano, which was performed in a concert at the Michael Tippett Centre in June 2012.

 

As a regular member of the excellent Isca Ensemble South West, Alfie was met up with the orchestra’s founder and Musical Director, Roger Hendy.  As a result, the Isca Ensemble was delighted to commission a new work for full orchestra for a performance in 2014. Alfie has produced a magnificent piece entitled ‘Aegean Fantasies’ which is in three movements. The score is rich, programmatic and beautifully arranged for a full symphony orchestra and will receive its première performance in Sidmouth Parish Church on Saturday 29th. November 2014 at 7.30 p.m.

 

Alfie is an accomplished pianist (both solo and accompanist), drummer & percussionist, and also plays the bassoon & contrabassoon. He also has a YouTube channel, Alfie4, where you can hear his Rhodes MK1 piano in action, and Alfie's solo piano versions of music by Barry Gray. He arranges sheet music for woodwind ensembles for Wonderful Winds publishing company, and has arrangements for sale on their website. Alfie produces performing editions of music for wind and brass bands, using original handwritten manuscripts.

 

Roger Hendy anticipates that this very talented musician will receive further commission requests as more people in the region and beyond recognise his considerable talent as a composer and arranger.

Saturday 4th. October 2014 at 7.30 p.m.

 

The Joanna Leach Foundation Classical Concert

in the new Joanna Leach Hall.

 

The Beehive, Dowell Street, Honiton, East Devon.

Featuring Emmanuel Bach (violin)

 

HUMPERDINCK: Overture 'Hansel and Gretel'

 BRAHMS : Violin Concerto

DVORAK : Symphony No. 9 'From the New World'

 

Review.   ISCA ENSEMBLE CONCERT – THE BEEHIVE, HONITON.

 

When Roger Hendy gave up as conductor of the EMG Symphony Orchestra many of us wondered where he would continue to direct his considerable musical talents. Now we know. He soon established a new orchestra, the Isca Ensemble, first as a chamber group, and then as a full-blown symphony orchestra with up to 60 plus playing members. While most of the orchestra’s concerts have been given in Sidmouth, on Saturday the musicians ventured to Honiton to give the very first orchestral concert to take place in the new Beehive concert hall. The event was generously sponsored by the Joanna Leach Foundation.

 

Roger Hendy had chosen a popular programme and it brought a capacity audience to the hall, a fact that must have confounded those who spoke out so loudly against this magnificent community amenity.

 

The soloist in Brahms’ Violin Concerto was the extremely promising young violinist Emmanuel Bach, just embarking upon his career after a distinguished university career at Oxford, where he gained a double first in music, and has recently commenced advanced violin studies at London’s Royal College of Music. He impressed the audience with his competent approach to a difficult work that brought forth from one of the composer’s contemporaries that the concerto was ‘not for, but against the violin’. The virtuoso Bronislav Hubermann replied that the concerto was ‘for violin, against the orchestra – and the violin wins’. In Emmanuel Bach’s performance there was, however, never a question of either side winning for soloist and orchestra were co-operating together magnificently to achieve the same goal of a beautifully crafted, balanced presentation of this wonderful work. The performance received a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience. Emmanuel has the potential of a great career ahead of him.

 

Opening the concert was the Overture to Humperdinck’s fairy tale opera Hansel and Gretel. The various sections of the orchestra were able to get into their stride and the horns, in particular were able to shine in the opening ‘prayer’ which is later to be heard later in the opera.

To conclude there was one of the most popular symphonies in the repertoire, Dvorak’s New World, so called because it was written while its composer briefly held the post of director of the newly opened National Conservatory of Music, in New York. Roger Hendy ensured well -chosen tempi and many opportunities for individual instrumentalists to bring their musicianship to the fore, none more so than Rhiannon Morgan in that bewitching cor-anglais solo in the second movement. This was a most satisfying performance.

J.D.

Emmanuel Bach began the violin at the age of five and is currently studying with Natasha Boyarsky. His playing has won him a number of awards and competitions, including the RGS Musician of the Year, IAPS Young Musician of the Year, Humphrey Richardson Taylor Charitable Trust Prize, Woking Young Musician Competition and the Una Clark Young Artists’ Competition. These prizes have led to performances with the Guildford Symphony Orchestra and the Woking Symphony Orchestra, with whom he performed Wieniawski’s Faust Fantasie in 2010. He performed the Glazunov Concerto with the Woking Symphony Orchestra.

 

Emmanuel has performed in Britain as both a soloist and chamber musician in venues including the Leeds International Concert Series, the Wigmore Hall, for which he was kindly loaned a 1711 Gobetti violin by Peter Biddulph, and St John’s Smith Square, and has also given concerts in France and Italy. Emmanuel recently toured South Africa, where he gave solo recitals and played Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy at multiple venues with the Pretoria University Orchestra, under Eric Rycroft. His performances of this work at the 2011 National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn led to him being nominated for the Upcoming Artist Award. This year, he performed the Khachaturian Violin Concerto with the Oxford Philomusica in the final of their concerto competition, in which he was runner-up.

 

Emmanuel  has recently graduated from Oxford University with a first class degree and has commenced advanced violin studies at the Royal College of Music with the Russian violinist, Natasha Boyarsky.

Saturday 17th. May 2014 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

 

Isca Ensemble

Exeter Chamber Choir 

Rebecca Yates – soprano

Rachel Bennett – alto 

Nicholas Yates – tenor

Tim Mirfin – bass


Roger Hendy & Andrew Daldorph

Musical directors

 

Mozart : Divertimento in D  K 136

 Mozart : Symphony No. 39

 Mozart : Requiem Mass

 

 

This concert attrracted a capacty audience.

 

It was a first class performance.

 

Sidmouth Parish Church.

Saturday 22nd. March 2014.

with

Claire Prewer - soprano 

                   

    GRIEG : Extracts from Peer Gynt  

      'Morning', 'Death of Ase' & 'Solveig's Song'

 

                                   RESPIGHI : Suite 'The Birds'


                                  MAHLER : SYMPHONY NO. 4 

 

                            In aid of Sidmouth Hospital Comforts Fund.

Review.

 

Isca Ensemble Concert, Sidmouth Parish Church, Saturday 22nd. March 2014.

 

Ensemble excellence.

 

Supported by many local businesses, the Isca Ensemble presented a very special concert last Saturday in Sidmouth Parish in aid of the Sidmouth Victoria Hospital Comforts Fund. This excellent and highly ambitious local orchestra of experienced amateur players now celebrating its tenth year, continues to bring to East Devon a huge variety of classical music and top soloists. On Saturday this was no exception when Musical Director Roger Hendy conducted a sparkling concert taking the Ensemble players to new heights with an exciting performance of Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Featuring the excellent soprano Claire Prewer from Worcester in the final movement of this epic work, the orchestra gave a memorable performance full of those famously rich Mahlerian themes interspersed with moments of high drama. With wonderfully sublime playing by the strings particularly in the famous Adagio and terrific climaxes involving the use of triple woodwind and wonderful horns and trumpets, Roger Hendy can be justifiable proud of what the Ensemble achieved. This famous piece of almost one-hour duration was for me the highlight of a wonderfully presented concert performed with terrific confidence, absolute adherence to complex scoring and excellent ensemble work throughout. There were some well-executed solo spotlights including the playing of the lead violinist, Antony Clements, horn player Simon Thomas amongst many others in the large woodwind section. The high quality of string playing and range of dynamics was also consistent throughout responding to the many demands set by the conductor. Claire Prewer added another dimension to the overall performance with some beautiful and eloquent singing in the final movement. The whole performance superbly conducted by Roger Hendy was charged with high emotion and excitement.

 

The concert opened with three extracts from Grieg's Peer Gynt culminating in an exquisite and sensitive performance of the well-known Solveig's Song by Claire Prewer singing in Norwegian. The Grieg was followed by Respighi's Suite 'The Birds' in which there were some truly excellent contributions by woodwind soloists depicting bird songs. I thought the staccato and amusing movement 'The Hen' was particularly well presented. The addition of a celesta and harp parts added an extra touch of magic to the evening. This was unquestionably a most ambitious choice of repertoire brilliantly performed by this inspired orchestra. I look forward to listening to future concerts.

 

There was a vote of thanks by Graham Vincent, chairman of the Comforts Fund who highlighted the ongoing work at Sidmouth Hospital.

  

M. L.

 

Claire Prewer was born into a musical family and has been singing since an early age, her first recording session taking place in a professional London studio when she was just five years old. At seventeen, Claire won a Scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she studied on the A.G.S.M. 'performers' course and subsequently on the Opera Course. Since leaving the Guildhall, Claire has sung in a wide range of styles and genres. Recent oratorio performances have included Elgar's 'Kingdom' & David Fanshaw's 'African Sanctus' in Worcester Cathedral, Orff's 'Carmina Burana', Handel's 'Messiah', Mendelssohn's 'Elijah', Bach's 'B Minor Mass' and Brahms' 'German Requiem'.

 

Opera roles have included Prokofiev's 'War & Peace', Britten's 'Rape of Lucretia', Poulenc's 'Les Dialogues des Carmelites', Humperdick's 'Hansel & Gretel', Mozart's 'Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail'. She also appeared as Donna Elvira opposite Benjamin Luxon in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni'. Some year ago she performed Richard Strauss' 'Four Last Songs' & Dvorak's 'Song to the Moon'  in Exeter Cathedral with Roger Hendy conducting. She has also performed Villa Lobos' Bachianas Brasileiras' no.5 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra 'cello section.

 

Alongside her singing career, Claire is increasingly becoming involved in additional aspects of music, which includes studio session work, arrangements (for the CBSO's recent tour of China and Big Band arrangements for Cunard and P&O cruises) and record production. Claire also enjoys teaching and is a tutor at the Birmingham School of Acting, The King's School, Worcester and Malvern St. James. Claire has written a series of children's educational theory books.

Gala Anniversary Concert November 30th. 2013.

Saturday 30th November 2013 at 7.30 p.m.

Sidmouth Parish Church

 

 

Borodin : On the Steppes of Central Asia

Dvorak : Cello Concerto in B minor

Brahms : Symphony No. 2

 

 

 

Rapturous applause by a capacity audience for a magnificient concert.

 

The Isca Ensemble is celebrating its Tenth Anniversary in 2013.

 

We were delighted that Richard Jenkinson (leading cellist in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and member of the Dante String Quartet) accepted our invitation to join us for this very special event. He has been a great friend and supporter of the Ensemble for many years and it was wonderful to work with him again towards this concert. He performed one of the great masterpieces for cello - Dvorak's most powerful and emotional Cello Concerto in B minor. The audience was thrilled!

 

Considerable funds were raised for Sidmouth Parish Church and the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) (Philippine Appeal).

November 2013 Concert in Sidmouth
Triumph with Dvorak!

A unique event.  

Supporting SAVE THE CHILDREN.      

 

Saturday 1st. June 2013.    Sidmouth Parish Church.

 

As part of the orchestra's Tenth Annivsary celebrations, the Isac Ensemble staged a special all-day orchestral workshop culminating in an evening concert.

 

FOR SAVE THE CHILDREN.

 

The following works were studied throughout the day ' from scratch'

and presented in concert format.

A real challenge for the players and conductor!

Liebfrauenkirche Nuremberg

 

Programme :

SIBELIUS : Karelia Suite

WIDOR- Toccata for organ (Symphony No. 5)

ROBERT MILLINGTON - Soloist

WAGNER: Overture 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg'

DVORAK : SYMPHONY NO. 8

 

60 players took part.

Players please contact Roger Hendy (rogerhendy@btinternet.com)

for more details of concerts or similar events.


Review

GENEROUS BIRTHDAY PRESENT TO ALL

 

Super concerts in the Parish Church by the ISCA ensemble, under their musical director Roger Hendy, are an established part of Sidmouth life; that each one has a benefit for some charitable cause is an extra bonus. So it was last Saturday evening, except here was a difference.

 

Roger and his orchestra are celebrating a significant milestone in their work together; their 10th year! They marked this momentous achievement by making a present of a free concert to their loyal audience; and packed the programme with as good a selection of favourite pieces as you could wish to hear.

 

Their programme, “Classics of the Masters” began with Wagner’s overture to The Mastersingers, into which the orchestra boldly launched themselves, competently carrying its stately and lyrical tunes through to its grand finale.

 

Organist Bob Millington let the rest of the players draw breath as he provided a solo spot with an organ favourite: the Toccata from Widor’s 5th Organ Symphony. It’s a piece where you jump in at the deep end, its electrifying opening whirls you towards those huge bass pedal notes that underpin the whole thing from beginning to end. This wasn’t in a cavernous cathedral shaking with the force of some gargantuan instrument, but it was still a hugely enjoyable piece in Bob’s hands.

 

Bob then picked up the cymbals for the orchestra’s next piece, the Karelia suite. Sibelius imbued this with all the nationalistic fervour he could and the orchestra got the pulse of the opening intermezzo just right to drive it from the shimmering opening strings to its joyous climax. They were rich and solid in the gentle ballade, picking up a jaunty metre for the closing march to the exhilarating finale.

 

After the interval Dvorak’s 8th symphony closed the concert. The New World is the more popular but no 8 is a joyous piece. Its optimistic and ebullient threads were every bit as buoyant and expressive as they should be, right up to the snorting brass fanfares of the conclusion.

 

This act of generosity gave everyone in the audience a superb evening’s music, and also put £875 into the coffers of the Save the Children Fund. Happy Birthday ISCA!

 

East Devon Press.

Saturday 2nd. March 2013

 

SIDMOUTH PARISH CHURCH, EAST DEVON

 

Beethoven : Overture ‘Egmont’  Op 84
Dvořák : Three Slavonic Dances Op. 46 & 72
Ewazen : Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra
Edward Scull - marimba
Beethoven : Symphony No.7 in A, Op. 92

 

In conjunction with Sidmouth Rotary for local community fund intiatives.

 

Edward Scull was our top class soloist in the Concerto for Marimba and String Orchestra by the American composer, Eric Ewazen.

 

Edward Scull is 23 years old, and has recently graduated from the Royal College of Music in London, where he was awarded a Foundation Scholarship to study Percussion. Ed gave a most stunning and engaging performance of the concerto which was enthsiastically received by a packed audience.

 

Juilliard composition and theory faculty member Eric Ewazen has written what many consider to be "The Great American Marimba Concerto". Only time will tell if these appraisals are correct, but everyone who hears it agrees that it is a work of great beauty and excitement. 

Review of Concert - East Devon press.
ISCA ENSEMBLE CONCERT 2nd 2013 REVIEW.pd[...]
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Concert porgamme.
Programme March PDF.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [4.1 MB]

 Saturday 17th. November 2012 at 7.30 p.m.

 

SIDMOUTH PARISH CHURCH, EAST DEVON 

 

Respighi : Ancient Airs and Dances Suite No. 2

Bizet : Symphony in C

Mendelssohn : Symphony No 3 'Scottish'

 

This concert was supporting ongoing projects of CHRISTIAN AID.



November 17th. Concert handbill.
NovemberConcerthandbill.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [404.7 KB]

 

"Ensemble produces a concert of real quality"

 

CHURCH CONCERT AIMED FOR CHRISTIAN AID

 

Some 250 concert goers provided £750 for Christian Aid when the musicians of the ISCA Ensemble, under Musical Director Roger Hendy, played in Sidmouth parish church on Saturday evening last.

 

Quite different from the compositions for which he is best known; describing the Fountains, Pines and Festivals  of Rome, Respighi took a retrospective look at past musical styles when he wrote his suites of Ancient Airs and Dances. The four movements echo the dance forms and styles of times past; a stately Galliard and gentle Saltarello from the 16th century gave the oboe and harpsichord prominence. A simple country dance, with the orchestra measuring the rustic stomps on the dance floor, and a rich evocation of Parisian bells, aided by piano and harpsichord, followed from the 17th century. The suite was rounded off by a sprightly Bergamasque, which enabled the orchestra to bring the opening work to its boisterous close.

 

Bizet’s symphony in C was not performed for 80 years after its composition, but in its first two movements can be heard traces of his operatic style. The third has a very strong feel of a Scottish dance before the last brings it too to a headlong and exuberant finish, enjoyed by audience and players alike.

 

Perhaps in anticipation of Mendelssohn’s ‘Scottish’ symphony, the resident church mouse took on the role of wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie as it scuttled down the side aisle in the interval. Written after Mendelssohn’s visit to Scotland, the symphony brings out the atmospheric moods he perceived; from the sombre chapel at Holyrood, a resounding storm and the sound of pipes lead to the mellow adagio before the work closes in stately splendour.

 

The orchestra, now approaching its 10th anniversary, showed its usual high standard of playing throughout and gave a very satisfying evening’s listening to a packed church.

 

 

East Devon Press.

The Isca Ensemble Sidmouth Parish Church

Roger Hendy : Musical Director.

 

This excellent 50-strong chamber orchestra presented a bold and hefty programme when it recently performed its winter concert in Sidmouth.

 

The orchestra presented a rich programme comprising of Ancient Airs and Dances Suite Two by Respighi, followed by Bizet's Symphony in C Major, and rounded off the evening with the drama of Mendelssohn's ‘Scottish’ Symphony in A Minor. With such an impressive and varied promise, it was no wonder the church, with its wonderfully lofty acoustics, was full.

 

As we took our seats, an extremely lively programme ensued, the classic baroque sound of Respighi's work contrasting with the robustness and vibrancy of Bizet's symphony. Musical director Roger Hendy did so well, keeping his musicians constantly challenged and his audience entertained with this choice. Because of their obvious passion for their craft, the musicians did an impressive job at expressing Bizet's mood swings, from the energising to the austere and solemn plus the admirable presentation of difficult violin parts in the finale. The Mendelssohn symphony, proved a very rousing and dramatic work to bring the evening to a close. The players and conductor worked really well to bring out the power and drama drawing the audience into the depths of the unfolding story.

 

The concert raised a substantial amount for Christian Aid.

 

Express and Echo.

 

Saturday 15th October 2010.

Sidmouth Parish Church.


Isca Ensemble with JACK LIEBECK (Violin)

Stravinsky : Movements from ‘Pucinella’
Mendelssohn : Violin Concerto
Jack Liebeck - Soloist
Avro Part: Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten for String Orchestra and Bell
Beethoven  : Symphony No. 8

 

This concert was to given to support  the work of Christian Aid.

 

 

Jack Liebeck (violin).

 

Jack gave a stunning performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

Jack Liebeck - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.
Jack Liebeck Concert handbill.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [393.4 KB]

 

Review.                          ISCA ENSEMBLE SUCCESS


Saturday evening , 15 October, gave Roger Hendy and the ISCA ensemble another night of success in their music making in Sidmouth Parish Church as they teamed up with acclaimed young British violinist JackLiebeck. Rector David James welcomed not only that evening’s music making, but other events soon to come in his church: Exeter Cathedral Choristers at 7pm on 19 November and The Schubert Ensemble on 10 March 2012 as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Sidmouth Music.

 

The programme opened with three movements from Stravinsky’s ballet suite Pulcinella. The potentially odd commixture of Pergolesi’s largely unchanged 18th century melodies with Stravinsky’s 20th century instrumentation and structures yielded a very pleasant piece within which the orchestra could settle themselves down. In February with CBSO cellist Richard Jenkinson, the orchestra showed how it can raise its game, and with Jack Liebeck it was no different. The players revelled in Mendelssohn’s most beautiful of concertos, giving smooth integrated support to Liebeck’s assured and eloquent playing. Together they moved skilfully and seamlessly from the passionate first movement into the delightful and serene slow movement. Violinist and orchestra together brought smiles of delight to faces around the audience with their sprightly playing in the high spirited finale, its vigorous ending meeting with bravos and sustained applause, well earned.

 

The second half opened in different mood altogether with Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten composed in 1977, the year after Britten’s death. The plangent tolling of a bell is set against canonic descending scales in the strings through which the orchestra moved sympathetically towards the conclusion, a held silence written in to the score to let the final tone of the bell fade to nothing. The concert ended on a high with Beethoven’s joyous 8th Symphony, and the players matched the boisterous demands of its swirling themes confidently. In the Haydnesque minuetto they were suitably graceful and stately, returning to a more ebullient style to drive the piece to its exuberant end.

 

As usual the evening had a charitable aim and the retiring collection raised some £500 for Christian Aid.
Euterpe

Saturday 5th February 2009.

Sidmouth Parish Church.

 

Isca Ensemble with RICHARD JENKINSON (cello)

 

Mozart : Overture 'Magic flute'

Shostakovitch : Cello Concerto No 1

Richard Jenkinson - soloist

Faure : Pavanne

Beethoven : Symphony No. 1

 

This concert was in aid of Save the Children.

 

 

Richard Jenkinson gave a superb performance of the First Cello Concerto by Shostakovitch.

Shostakovich Concerto handbill
Shostakovich concert handbill.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [262.5 KB]

 

Review.                          ISCA  PLAYERS RAISE THEIR GAME

 

There is nothing quite like rising to a challenge, and Roger Hendy, musical director, and the Isca Ensemble rose magnificently to the one they had set themselves for their third concert in Sidmouth Parish Church, on Saturday 5th February. For this demanding programme they also featured, as guest soloist, Richard Jenkinson, principal cellist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

 

The Isca Ensemble settled themselves in to the concert with their opening piece, the overture to Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute. They then welcomed Richard on stage to play the main item in the programme, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto no 1, composed in 1959 for the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich who gave the premiere and made the first recording within the year. This piece ranks as one of the most difficult for cello and orchestra, but the Isca played magnificently throughout. The opening movement bounced along energetically through Shostakovich’s “jocular march”, with cello and horn trading the themes between them. The second movement is marked moderato and was a fitting piece for the orchestra to dedicate their performance of to the memory of a fellow player who had recently passed away. It begins as a tender, questing elegy but at the end has turned into something that feels like a bleak and bitter Russian wind. Without break this continues into the third movement, a solo cadenza for the cello. There is always incidental noise from an audience, but for this movement there was rapt near silence, such was the intensity of expression Richard generated. Seamlessly again the last movement leads off into what felt like a whirling Cossack dance to bring the piece to its exuberant close.

 

The second half opened with the comfort and familiarity of Fauré’s Pavane, a delightful piece, played richly and coherently by the orchestra. They remained confident and assured as they presented the closing work, Beethoven’s first symphony, earning an impromptu ripple of applause from the audience at the end of the first movement.

 

Roger and the ensemble clearly raised their game for this evening, which was greatly appreciated by a good sized audience, and helped raise money for the Save the Children Emergency Fund through a retiring collection. We look forward to further good things in October when the ensemble play again, with international violinist Jack Liebeck. Those wanting more music before then have one last opportunity with the Sidmouth Music season; on March 12th The Tippett String Quartet will be playing Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schubert in the Manor Pavilion Theatre. Further information on this from 01395 514618 or www.SidmouthMusic.org.uk

Yokshireman.

Saturday 25th September 2011.

 

Sidmouth Parish Church.

 

ISCA ENSEMBLE with Peter Adcock (piano)

 

Elgar : Introduction and Allegro for Strings
Beethoven : Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor
Mendelssohn: Symphony No 4 ‘The Italian’

 

This concert was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

 

Peter Adock (piano)

 

Peter gave a sparkling performance of Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto.

Elgar, Beethoven & Mendelssohn Concert
Beethoven Piano Concerto Concert.pdf
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Gala Summer Concert Saturday 30th. June 2012

 

Vivaldi : Concerto for Four Violins

Albinoni : Adagio for strings and organ

Poulenc: Concerto for organ, timpani and strings

Robert Millington - organ

Rameau : Rondeau forom 'Les Indes Galantes'

Brtitten : Variations of a theme of Frank Bridge

 

 Robert Millington - soloist

 

Robert gave a rich and brilliant presentation of the Poulenc Concerto.

The concert was in aid of Save the Children.

Concert review
Review of Concert June 30th. 2012.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [1.5 MB]

Saturday 17th. November 2012.

 

A review of this most recent concert will be posted shortly.