Students share billing with the masters in Spalding

London Mozart Players who were in concert at South Holland Centre, Spalding.
London Mozart Players who were in concert at South Holland Centre, Spalding.
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A new work by students from University Academy Holbeach was at the heart of a concert given by the London Mozart Players in Spalding last weekend.

The world premiers of Near...Far was an exciting addition to the standard fare of Benjamin Britten, Barber and Mozart performed by the string, woodwind and percussion sections of the Croydon-based orchestra at South Holland Centre on Friday September 27.

Conducted by associate conductor Hilary Davan Wetton, the concert opened with Britten’s Simple Symphony made up of four movements intriguingly called Boisterous Bouree, Playful Pizzicato, Sentimental Sarabond and Frolicsom Finale.

Wetton described the symphony as a “fantastic piece that kinds of runs away with itself,” but the players were suitably self-disciplined in interpreting it for their Spalding audience.

The most well-known piece of the night came next, Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, often regarded as “the saddest piece ever written” and used for the funeral of assassinated US President John F. Kennedy and in Oliver Stone’s Vietnam War-based film Platoon.

Wetton himself called it “an immensely beautiful piece from a composer looking backwards, as well as forwards.”

Then the Holbeach students took centre stage with their ten-minute composition for which they took sounds influenced by the school and home environments, including cheering crowds, workmen’s machines and the bells of the town’s All Saints Church.

Lincoln-based composer Duncan Chapan, who worked with the students, introduced the piece that in places sounded like the old Open University theme on TV and in others resembled Carly Simon’s 1972 hit You’re So Vain.

The second half of the concert started with Sinfonietta No 1 by Malcolm Arnold, most famous for his Oscar-winning score from the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai and the 1969 World War II film Battle of Britain starring Sir Michael Caine.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart brought a fitting end to the concert and drew a fitting tribute from the conductor for his Symphony No.29 in A - “an extraordinary revelation of what a 16-year-old can achieve.”

London Mozart Players provided an ideal oasis for an audience, some of whom no doubt were worn out at the end of another working week.

South Holland Centre concert organisers would do well to make the most of Hilary Davan Wetton hint at a request for a return visit, “We love coming here, it’s a very nice place to play and we’d like to come back.”