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Cheltenham Chamber Orchestra eagerly anticipating Saturday night concert

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Author: Patrick Baines, Posted: Thursday, 10th May 2018, 10:30

The Cheltenham Chamber Orchestra are to play music by famous French composers this Saturday evening at St Andrew’s Church in Montpellier.

The orchestra has built a strong reputation for delivering exceptional performances and has recently performed concerts showcasing the music of Mozart, Elgar and Handel. It will be French composers that take centre stage this Saturday, as they perform work by Debussy, Roussel, Fauré and Saint-Saëns.

Laura Morris, who plays the French horn in the orchestra, says Saturday’s concert can’t come soon enough. “We’re all looking forward to it, any time you get the opportunity to share a stage with so many talented musicians is a real thrill,” said Laura. “We’ve practised so hard for this concert, a lot of work has gone into it, so we’re all anxiously awaiting getting underway on Saturday now,” she added.

Laura spent five years studying at music college before playing professionally in London. She joined the Cheltenham Chamber Orchestra 12 years ago and has been involved in a number of memorable concerts, playing her French horn. Continued Laura: “There’s been so many memorable performances over the years. We’re incredibly lucky to have worked with some of the best conductors in the country. James Ross, who will be conducting Saturday’s concert, brings so much to the orchestra, he’s so friendly and easy to work with.

“I don’t tend to get too nervous before a performance. You know you’ve put in all the preparation and rehearsals have gone to plan. We all put so much effort in, practising every week and it all builds up to performing. It’s an enormous sense of satisfaction, performing alongside friends who are all so talented.”

The beating heart of any orchestra is the conductor, and James Ross says he’s relishing the chance to work alongside the Cheltenham Chamber Orchestra this Saturday. “Cheltenham Chamber Orchestra are a terrific group of professionals,” said James. “They are able to rehearse at speed, thoroughly prepared, and much happens by ‘talking in music’ rather than words. Many towns depend on getting professional orchestras touring from elsewhere, Cheltenham is very lucky to have an ensemble of this standard, and it’s a pleasure to be back working with them again,” he added.

James, a renowned conductor who was a BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Conducting Competition finalist, says Saturday’s French themed concert is one he’s been looking forward to for a long time. Said James: “These four French composers all write music that is charming and elegant, expressing profound things with a light touch.”

“The Fauré Pavane was originally written for a grand outdoor party; the Debussy was a piano-duet work that was just too good not to be arranged for orchestra; Roussel’s Spider’s Banquet was originally a ballet. It’s an impressionistic nature picture, we’ll introduce all its dancing bugs, including ants, butterfly and mayfly before we perform it in full. One critic described it as ‘a bitingly ironic portrayal of the appetites, passions and destructive folly of mankind’, but that may be overdoing things, you can just enjoy its evocation of nature if you prefer!

“Saint-Saëns is famous for his grand ‘Organ Symphony’ and his ‘Carnival of the Animals’. His Second Symphony is almost never played – I’ve never seen it on a UK concert programme – but it is a beautiful work, something of a tribute to Bach, Haydn and Mozart, composers whose music he adored.”

The concert gets underway at 7:30pm on Saturday May 12th.

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Conductor James Ross

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