THIS year's Lakeland Sinfonia Concert Society season opened with JS Bach's first Brandenburg Concerto.

Performed by no less an eminent ensemble than the Royal Northern Sinfonia, directed by Bradley Creswick, the concert provided the Westmorland Hall audience with music-making of the highest quality.

On Saturday (November 11, 7.30pm), violinist Kyra Humphreys steps into Bradley's shoes as RNS director as the remaining five (concertos 2-6) of Bach's great, visionary baroque works are brought to life by Kyra and soloists from the exceptional chamber orchestra in the next Lakeland Sinfonia society's series of concerts.

Well known for her sophisticated musicianship, Kyra began learning the violin when she was just six and has been co-leader of the RNS since 1998. She has played at the Proms and performed the World Premiere of Après un Silence on BBC Radio 3. A mathematics graduate, she said ‘no’ to maths, thought about law then finally, at 20, decided to become a musician.

All the Brandenburg concertos feature strings in a variety of ensembles, with prominence given to sometimes unusual combinations of other instruments. For instance, the second Brandenburg features solo recorder or flute, oboe and trumpet - radical for its day. In the fifth the harpsichord escapes from its usual role in the continuo to play virtuoso cadenzas alongside the solo flute and violin. No doubt Bach was offering the 17 members of his orchestra at Kothen an opportunity to display their talents.

The story goes, that Leopold, Prince of Anhalt-Kothen, hired Bach to serve as his director of music in 1717. Prince Leopold, himself a musician, appreciated Bach's talents, paid him well and gave him considerable latitude in composing and performing. Most of Bach's work from this period was secular and included suites for orchestra, cello, solo violin and the Brandenburg Concertos.

Bach referred to the Brandenburgs as concertos for "several instruments" - an understatement, really. Bach used the widest spectrum of orchestral instruments available in daring combinations. Apparently, he dedicated the scores to the Margrave of Brandenburg. The manuscripts lay unknown and were discovered in the library in Brandenburg in the 19th Century.

Saturday's concert also features, as a contrast, two works by Henryk Gorecki.

In his early compositions Gorecki experimented with avant-garde forms, but by the end of the 1970s he had returned to a much mellower and more easily accessible style often influenced by religious themes and folk tunes.

The RNS programme includes the Polish composer's The Three Pieces in Olden Style, which are influenced by the styles of music from around the time of Bach, and the vigorous, dynamic and witty Harpsichord and String Concerto, commissioned by Polish Radio in 1980 for the Composers’ Forum.

Henryk Miko?aj Gorecki, who died in November 2010, was regarded by many as one of the most commercially successful classical composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Born in 1933, he was a leading figure of the Polish avant-garde during the post-Stalin cultural thaw much inspired by Webern and Stockhausen’s atonality and dissonance.

However, he was largely unknown outside Poland until probably the mid-to-late 1980s, finally finding fame in the 1990s.

In 1992, 15 years after it was composed, a recording of his third symphony, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs - recorded with soprano Dawn Upshaw and released to commemorate those lost during the Holocaust - became a worldwide commercial and critical success, selling more than a million copies.

Tickets for Saturday's Royal Northern Sinfonia performance at Kendal Leisure Centre's Westmorland Hall are available online or by telephone on 0333-666-3366.

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