‘Tom gets off to a flying start at symphony orchestra concert’

Tom Hammond (left) and soprano Dima Bawab at rehearsal in St SAviour's Church
Tom Hammond and soprano Dima Bawab rehearsing in St Saviour’s Church

Herts Advertiser critic has given warm welcome to new SASO principal conductor, Tom Hammond  – and  the ‘exquisite’ singing of soprano soloist Dima Bawab.

“New conductor Tom Hammond got St Albans Symphony Orchestra’s new season off to a fine start on Saturday (15 October) with a programme aimed to please.”

“Wagner’s, ever-popular overture to The Flying Dutchman was the spectacular opener for the concert at St Saviour’s Church in St Albans. And it revealed some very good instrumental performances, particularly from the brass sections. Tom Hammond, who has taken over the role of permanent conductor of the orchestra, showed good control and interpretation throughout the work.”

“The second part of the concert was given over to Tchaikovsky’s beautiful but melancholic Sixth Symphony… the orchestra’s performance of the opening bars was a little ragged but it very quickly came together for an otherwise excellent performance in which it gave full weight to the emotions of the work.”

“But for me the outstanding part of the evening was the performance of Richard Strauss’s wonderful Four Last Songs plus his much earlier Ruhe, meine Seele (Rest my Soul) exquisitely sung by Jordan-born soprano Dima Bawab.The Four Last Songs make significant challenges for the singer, particularly in the vocal range they cover. But Dima Bawab handled the emotionally charged works superbly.

“The orchestra was impressive throughout the entire performance of the cycle…in particular the fine violin solo in the third song was an outstanding moment.”