The British Police Symphony Orchestra – Concert Review

Saturday 25th 2015 – Coventry Central Hall

THE BRITISH POLICE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

 BPSO

Inside the cavernous, 80 year old red brick building of Coventry Central Hall, the Methodist Church and Community building in the centre of the city, is the Main Hall. In this large, sturdy concert hall complete with balconies and it’s own organ, sat the 67 musicians who make up the British Police Symphony Orchestra tuning up to perform an ‘evening of classical favourites’.

This unique orchestra is made up from police forces across the UK, either serving or retired they give their time to put together concerts. Their Chairman Mike Cunningham is Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, and this evening’s concert was in aid of Tiny Tim’s Children’s Centre also in Coventry. A registered charity it provides many free treatments to children with disabilities and special needs.

It opens with the dramatic Fanfare for the Common Man [Copland], and was played in all it’s glory under the ebullient conductor Richard Jenkinson, who was previously appointed by Sir Simon Rattle as principal cellist with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. He is also the orchestra’s Musical Director.

This was followed with a beautiful rendering of Adventures on Earth from John Williams soundtrack to ET. They captured the emotional rollercoaster of Williams master score so well that at one point my throat wobbled!

The theme of music-in-film carried on with Adagietto [Movement 4 from Symphony No.5] by Mahler, an astonishingly difficult piece with it’s almost silent beginning, here they captured the emotional scope very well.

The evenings compere was Martin Dougan, a regular presenter on CBBC Newsround. He was very audience friendly who knew how to get a response. He asked if anyone knew what film the Mahler piece was use in, and I am embarrassed to say, along with others, we shouted, rather loudly from the balcony, ‘Death In Venice’!

After a Delibes piece came the Adagio of Spartacus & Phyrigia [Khatachurian]. The orchestra builds up to the tremendous crescendo with such relish you can almost feel the sea spray as you were transported to the TV series of the shipping saga The Onedin Line. Here the strings flowed beautifully and the percussion was right on cue. Apparently this piece has also been used in 2 of the Ice Age animation films.

We were taken up to the interval with the Light Cavalry Overture.

The second half began with Fanfare ‘Antiphony’ [Chapman] and the elegant Crown Imperial [Walton]. Onto one of the stars of the concert, the majestic Nimrod by Elgar, played so beautifully it could not fail but to move you.

Onto what I had been waiting for the James Bond Medley [John Barry]. The orchestra played the 007 theme with much gusto. The medley was sadly quite short with For Your Eyes Only, Live & Let Die and Goldfinger where the slow, sleazy note by trumpet with hat, was done to perfection!

Just before the end of the concert a gift was given to viola player Graham Hayden who is also a therapist at Tiny Tim’s. He worked hard marketing the evening and a fine job he did too. It was a very poignant moment as 3 young children, obviously recipients of treatment at the centre, came down the isle to do the presentation.

This brilliant set ended with a return to John Williams and here the strings triumphed as did the brass section with, Imperial March, Yoda’s Theme, Throne Room and End Titles.

This is an orchestra which enjoys itself, you get the sense that they are close knit regardless of how far apart they work and live. Though they looked a tad squeezed together on stage and the brass section in particular was somewhat separated from the rest by being up a short flight of stairs to the back on a high platform virtually looking down on their fellow musician – a quartet of female French horns players right across to a rather fine tuba glistening under the lights, – they were a cohesive and fun group. Under the baton of Jenkinson they soared as well as delivering the emotion and heart of each piece.

This was a cracking night out in an incredible hall with superb acoustics, raising money for a good cause and all we had to do was sit back and listen to an exciting orchestra who played to thrill.

http://www.bpso.org.uk

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