Orchestra Rings the Changes

November 2012 – John Manning writes in the Herts Advertiser

Tenor Jonathan Finney (right) with SASO’s conductor, Bjorn Bantock

“Although the opening work of the evening was (Wagner’s) popular Ride of the Valkyries, the real sensation was a concert presentation of Act 1 Scene three, the famous love duet from the same opera.

Superb in the role of Siegmund was tenor Jonathan Finney whose more usual role with the orchestra is as a member of the viola section. Singing opposite him as Sieglinde was fine soprano Kimberley Myers. The entire performance by the two singers was of an amazingly high standard with others more knowledgeable than me comparing it favourably with those they had seen in Bayreuth, the home of Wagner’s operas, and Covent Garden, and the end result was a reception from the audience which has rarely been surpassed at a concert by the orchestra.”

“The second half was devoted to a performance of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ dark and powerful second symphony. As with almost all his works the symphony somehow emphasises its Finnish heritage and also represents the composer’s feelings following the suicide of his sister in law. Although, in parts, the performance lacked some definition, it was overall the powerful experience one would expect from it, and particularly noteworthy were the performances by oboe player Mike Brien and flautist Hattie Webster.

This was the first concert of the new season for the orchestra and there were several new faces amongst the musicians as well as a new air of confidence amongst them. With an interesting programme coming up one can look forward with happy expectation.”