Worthing Symphony Orchestra Hosts New Years in Style



Commemorative statue of Johann Srauss II

Concert “Viennese New Year Celebration” by the Worthing Symphony Orchestra at Assembly Hall, Sunday January 2, 2022 (2:45 pm); conductor Julian leaper, conductor John Gibbons.

The popular traditional New Years concert came just in time for the Worthing Symphony Orchestra’s need to challenge the pandemic with just their concert of the season. Self-funded provincial orchestras as they launched the financial suicide challenge through a fall of audiences tiptoeing to concerts via the Delta variant of Covid, barely half filling available seats.

The WSO only risked concerts in October and November. Now, the endemic new variant of Omicron would have reduced the audience response even further – without the constant British urge to taste vicariously (no travel, German speaking, or drunkenness required) of the glitter and societal glitter of day one. of the new calendar in Capital Austria. The response to this WSO equivalent was not sufficiently sustained to cross the 50% participation mark. Some ticket holders will have stayed at home. But it could have been worse.

Without the support of arts organizations and dependent on creating their own sponsorship, WSO courageously refused to cancel. They trusted their fans enough to come and contribute cash to pay the musicians, who are not salaried but independent. There were only 31 players, with at least eight staff changes late due to the rapidly worsening health situation. This, in addition to their previous 20 months of concert work almost completely erased.

Director John Gibbons, from the conductor’s podium, called to salute them, the artists, during the presentation of the An Artists’s Life waltz. He reiterated conductor / composer Johan Strauss II’s comment that these are the people you actually have to pay to get the music.

Lucky Gibbons WSO followers have learned that there is even more daring to come – even easier with music requiring smaller orchestras. On February 20, Mozart, Beethoven’s 2nd Piano Concerto performed by Ian Fountain and Schubert’s 5th Symphony will be included. On March 13, the Mozart Flute and Harp concert will be presented, and there will likely be a third concert on April 24.

It was tuxedos for the men (20 of 31) and Gibbons’ nudge instead of a handshake with frontman Julian Leaper immediately reaffirmed the cautionary agreement of these ongoing times. Gibbons arranged his pruned WSO with “stereo” brass and percussion left and right.

Normal A4 program brochures would have missed their print deadline before Christmas, so instead there was a free A4 (optional donation) half-folded list of artists, music to play, a seasonal goodwill message and a cork facade. blanket. With no program notes, Gibbons presented each element, engaging and entertaining as usual.

Along with his stories and anecdotes, we learned that for “Vienna Blood”, read “Vienna Spirit”, and that Tristch Tratch Polka talks about gossip.

. . . On the program (Johann Strauss II unless otherwise specified): New Year’s Galop (Joseph Lanner); Waltz of wine, women and songs, Tritsch Trasch Polka; Waltz of Gold and Silver (Franz Lehar); Perpetuum Mobile, the waltz of an artist’s life. . . INTERVAL . . . Overture Isabella (Franz Von Suppé), waltz of the blood of Vienna; Pilsner Tanz (Anton Bruckner, arr Gibbons); Polka de Schwanda The bagpiper (Jaromir Weinberger); Thunder and Lightning Polka, The Waltz of the Blue Danube; Radetsky March (Johann Strauss I).

There is an inherent danger to orchestras on such an easy, relaxed and comfortable occasion with an easily won over Sunday afternoon audience, that the performance can slip into an afternoon half-doze. . Giving the waltzes their rhythm is easy, but swinging them to make them come alive in a true New Years celebration requires a thrill that was rather lacking here in some of the more trodden pieces.

And do I sense a lingering reluctance to allow the enthusiastic audience more than a single ration of hand-clapping involvement – in The Radetsky March, which always seems to come only at the very end, always with a free rehearsal? As soon as the faithful feel fully integrated, the concert is over! Find at least one more cheered March for the menu, I suggest. Let the audience participate and react. Get rid of the straitjacket in these tough times. Or is a classical concert unable or timid to party?

But with Gibbons there are usually different dishes or a chef’s specialty in recognition of the fact that there is more to the Viennese New Year’s dance than the usual suspicious composers. The Lanner kicked off the event, although more at a canter excited than at a canter. The Weinberger loaned a recognizable drinking song from the Bohemian Comic Opera, although it could have benefited from a more spiky touch. The Von Suppé Isabella brought cheers to the public with its cheerfulness of multinational flavors.

The Bruckner Beer Dance made a welcome second appearance on the music stands at the WSO. This is Gibbons’ own invention. Bruckner liked a pint in a guesthouse. Gibbons told us that the composer’s doctor had urged him to give up in his final days in Vienna, implying that Bruckner’s favorite glass might have cut his life off before he could finish his consummated 9th Symphony.

Gibbons, of course, recorded the Symphony, with one of his special achievements, with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra of Denmark, but its length and cost of staff probably mean that the 9th is beyond a practical presentation in a WSO concert series unless a well-paid local Brucknerite opens his purse. So now to hear that sound, that texture and that originality was a thrill to Bruckner aficionados and an intrigue to everyone else present.

The 9 is the actual source of Gibbons. He resumes his dancing scherzo, recasting his spectral tonality of F # into a more joyful F major. And for a contrasting scherzo trio, he inserts the second main singing aria from the opening movement of the 9th. Everything works beautifully and spreads a joyful fantasy.

Don’t rule out a Bruckner Symphony in the future of WSO. But not until Covid is taken out of the equation.



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