Around 200 concert-goers were treated to a musical extravanganza at Kendal Leisure Centre on Saturday 26 March.

The performance was reviewed by Clive Walkley, Musical Director of Kendal-based Pro Nobis Singers:

"Conductor Richard Howarth introduced the Westmorland Orchestra’s concert with a few well-chosen words, inviting the audience to think of all those caught up in conflict around the world before the orchestra played the stirring Ukraine National Anthem.

"It was an affecting opening to the concert, as the audience spontaneously rose to their feet.

"The concert was a brave venture and an enterprising one.

"Brave because the orchestra was heavily hit by the effects of Covid in the final stages of preparation resulting in the absence of several string players and the replacement of wind players at the last moment: enterprising in the commissioning of a new work by a local composer.

"The reduced number of players in the violin sections did have an impact but did not diminish the enthusiasm of the players who rose to the challenge admirably.

"The concert opened with Berlioz’s energetic, colourful overture Roman Carnival.

"Heavily scored in favour of the brass section, the players were perhaps a little over-enthusiastic in their fanfares but there were some gentler moments as the Cor Anglais and strings sang out the composer’s lovely melodic lines.

"The percussion department too clearly enjoyed adding colour and weight to the climaxes and overall the performance released the unbridled energy required to give us a carnival atmosphere.

"Rimsky-Korsakov’s Trombone Concerto was given a very confident performance by the impressive young soloist Ellena Newton.

"Her tone throughout was smooth and even, and she met the technical challenges of the cadenza section with great assurance.

"Next came the première performance of new work, Equilibrium, written by Fredrik Holm, a local composer (and conductor of the Westmorland Youth Orchestra) in memory of Jonty Somervell, a member of the Westmorland Orchestra for 65 years.

"Written in three movements for full orchestra, it revealed the composer’s command of orchestration and his ability to develop his ideas over a long time span.

"As Jonty was a viola player, the viola section figured prominently, especially in the second movement where the section rose to prominence. The composer played the contrabassoon part for the piece and so was on the stage to receive well-won applause for his composition. 

"There were many arresting ideas in this work, which deserves to be taken up by other orchestras.

"Perhaps the performance of Dvorak’s Symphony from the New World presented the orchestra with its greatest challenge of the evening.

"It is a work known and loved by so many music lovers, full of memorable melodies and great climaxes. 

"There were moments when one felt the need for a stronger upper string line but what the first violins lacked in numbers they made up for by the quality of their playing.

"In the slow movement, Dvorak’s lovely Cor Anglais solo was beautifully played by Rachel Malloch; other members of the wind department distinguished themselves in the prominent solos given to them throughout the work.

"The final climax in the last movement brought the concert to a joyful conclusion.

"The enterprise shown by the orchestra was worthy of greater support by all local music lovers. 

"The next concert is on Saturday, May 21, and will feature another talented young soloist, clarinettist Jack Horrocks, playing Mozart’s clarinet concerto as well as music by Hindemith and Brahms."

A spokesperson for Westmorland Orchestra said: "Westmorland Orchestra would like to thank the audience for their donations; £202 was raised and has been paid to the Disasters Emergency Committee."