REVIEW: Worthing Symphony Orchestra New Year concert

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A FRESH and fun approach to conductor John Gibbons’ Viennese New Year Concert is under way with Worthing Symphony Orchestra. Children on stage next to the musicians; a celebrity presenter; games and novelties sprinkled among the musical bonbons.

Radio 5 Live’s Eleanor Oldroyd could not present on Sunday (January 2), owing to her daughter’s influenza, but the seasoned Gibbons easily filled the breach as, otherwise, the new idea was launched.

Computer keyboards rattled under youngsters’ fingers while Gibbons sat on stage behind a vintage metal model to direct Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter as though from the harpsichord.

Children invited from the audience ascended the stage for a close-up of a reprise of Strauss’s Thunder and Lightning Polka.

And there was customary seated audience participation with sing-along and clapping in time.

Flautist and clarinettist Monica McCarron and Emily Sutcliffe starred in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Flight Of The Bumble Bee. Christopher Deacon’s trumpet brayed as the horse when Anderson’s Sleigh Ride ended.

And percussionists Christopher Blundell, Peter Henderson and Robert Millet had their busiest and jolliest afternoon of the season.

Alongside the familiar, satisfying waltzes came emotional substance from Tchaikowsky in his Rococo Variations for Cello and Orchestra.

WSO debut-making soloist Leonard Elschenbruich played his German compatriot Wilhelm Fitzhagen’s revised version from a strongly lyrical viewpoint, but his Menuhin School pedigree meant virtuosic full bravura throttle was ready for the finalé.

This piece’s mere 18 minutes were a tantalisingly short preview of this already compelling new artiste.

The WSO fans now crave a full concerto from Elschenbruich.