An Exciting Opening Concert for the Yarmouth Arts Festival 

30th July 2019

Michael Boon reports
photographs courtesy of Jeremy Freeman

as published in Great Yarmouth Parish Life


Dominic Turner playing the Mozart Horn Concerto

The musical section of the Great Yarmouth Arts Festival started with a zip at the Minster on Saturday with a Gala Concert organised by John Stephens, well known in both local and wider musical circles, for his inspirational teaching of young people
John's interest in helping young people to develop their musicianship through ensemble playing led to the foundation of his Orchestrate project in 2014. Those performing under his baton in the Minster did him proud. The chorus of young people put together with voices from Norwich and Great Yarmouth provided the backdrop to the opening half of this orchestral concert
The first half of the concert had the small orchestra, comprising talented young performers, played a selection of film music opening with themes from the James Bond films, and then playing with both a Hollywood sound and delicate touch a film score medley. This included the evergreen ‘As Time Goes By’ from Casablanca and moving through Vaughan Williams's ‘Fantasia on Greensleeves’  with a delicate string and woodwind touch and conclude with a rousing version of the ‘Dambusters March’ evoking Guy Gibson's heroism with his own pilots and then into the film score from the first film in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Having established the talent of the performers in more popular music, John Stephens took them through a variety of items in the second half of the concert which displayed their multifaceted talents in being able to perform selections from a series of classical composers
An early item in the second half was a excellently played ‘Rondo’ from Mozart's ‘E fiat horn concerto’  by local talented Gorleston soloist Dominic Turner who is now moving on from being a junior with John's team to develop his undoubted talents to specialise even further in his chosen instrument

It was then the turn of the carefully welded course of young people comprising youngsters from Norwich young voices, our local Dusmagrick young people's theatre and some from John's own Orchestrate project to sing a choral version in German of Bach's Jesu Joy of man's desiring. This was one of the high points of the evening as the orchestra was silent and the young people showed what they could do under John's baton performing a carefully judged and phrased choral piece. The full orchestra then played the same orchestrated score immediately afterwards

Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations foreshadowed the final concert of the Arts Festival which would take place next Saturday and which would include both the Variations and the Elgar Cello Concerto. Then as the conductor turned to the substantial audience, included the Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Michael Jeal and his wife, we all rose to sing with the orchestra. Firstly, singing Vaughan Williams' arrangement of the Old Hundredth, then singing our hearts out in true promenaders fashion with Jerusalem. The singing audience were given a brief respite by a stirring orchestral performance prominent in the brass of the RAF March Past. We gathered our strength to sing Holst's I vow to thee my Country and then finally amidst the waving of small Union Jacks the conductor conjured from us and even earned fuller volume in Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory

The evening was not yet at a conclusion because visitors from our twin French town of Rambouillet were present during the weekend and in the Minster for the concert. The evening concluded with a spirited version of the Marseillaise and then our own the National Anthem both sung sequentially by the enthusiastic and appreciative audience
Very well done John Stephens another landmark concert from you in the Minster. Very well done young people of the orchestra and chorus who gave their audience such an exciting varied and stimulating opening concert in the Arts Festival

GY ARTS FESTIVAL 2019 jeremy f