Review: Salford Symphony Orchestra @ Swinton Masonic Hall

With Christmas only a matter of days away, the Salford Symphony Orchestra brought some festive cheer to a strong crowd at the Swinton Masonic Hall.

Two lively pieces composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams opened proceedings as Wasps and the familiar Fantasia on Greensleeves entertained spectators in high-octane fashion.

Leader and conductor Jon Henderson then introduced The Grove Singers, the evening’s guest choir who produced a quartet of songs.

Their version of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know didn’t quite reach the peak I was hoping for but their delivery of the hebrew folk tune Simi Yadech really impressed.

The first half of the concert was brought to a close with a rendition of Benjamin Britten’s Soirees Musicales, originally inspired by themes based on Gioachino Rossini’s work.

Warmly spoken of, despite being written off during his career, Britten’s pieces were wonderfully represented here, with Bolero proving a particular highlight for those in attendance.

Christmas cheer was brought to the fore after the break as the hats, costumes, and kids all came out to play with Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival taking centre stage.

Its conglomeration of classic festive tunes including Jingle Bells, O Come Ye Faithful and Deck the Halls were wonderfully choreographed to the audience.

Following impressively was Arthur Wilkinson’s cleverly composed Beatlecracker Suite, blending Christmas tunes with a mixture of well known and obscure Beatles tracks.

Entertainment for those in attendance was heightened as conductor Barrie McKninnon paused after every track to asking the audience if they recognised which Beatles tune had been mixed in.

Considering they were right more often than not, it’s safe to argue the orchestra gave justice to the intriguingly composed piece.

The grove singers appeared again with an array of songs, encapsulated by a slightly odd and yet entertaining final song, reflecting the sound of string instruments.

Disappointingly, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas wasn’t performed despite its place in the  programme but the final three pieces, conducted by Mckninnon brought the concert to a climatic end.

Christopher Irwin’s Reindeer Rondo, the famous carol ‘O Come All Ye Faithful and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride provided the conclusive Christmas cheer to festivities.

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