Winter Concert

February 07, 2023

Last month we had a lovely evening at Holy Trinity Church Ripon listening to the St Celia Orchestra. 

We were a bit late since we had some trouble finding somewhere to park. In hind sight we should have left the chieftain tank at home and taken the smaller car instead. Despite this minor set back we arrived in time to hear most of the wind ensemble. 

This was followed by the string orchestra playing Sibelius – Pelleas and Melisande suit. Not one of my favourites I have to say, Sibelius can easily sound depressing so a natural choice for a winter theme. 

We were hoping things would pick up a bit in the second half with Bartok’s Romanian Dances but somehow even they sounded a bit like walking through a blizzard rather than a merry dance. That may have had something to do with the sound quality of the church. The finer details of the pieces were often lost or over- powered by the cellos and double bass. So much so that during Sibelius second movement Melisande the violins plucking was barely audible.

The orchestra themselves and their audience were very welcoming and it was obvious that this was a community church event with ourselves possibly the only outsiders. However, we were made to feel part of the family, happily exchanging light-hearted comments and jokes. So an ideal place to go if you are new to the area.   

The highlight of the evening was Mozart Symphony no.25. The orchestra had the most fun with this piece even if they didn’t quite bring out all of Mozart’s notes- an unenviable task. 

As it happened the same weekend in Harrogate a renowned pianist Ashley Wass was giving a concert at The Old Swan Hotel to rave reviews. Harrogate is well known for its classic concerts with professional orchestras and musicians from around the world making frequent visits. 

However, we wanted to see what is on offer slightly further afield. For a church orchestra I would say St Celia’s gave a very good performance of some very difficult pieces. I would definitely  recommend them to anyone visiting Harrogate.  The orchestra and community for whom they were playing were very welcoming. I would love to go again.