DMU Orchestra hit the right note at birthday bash

Beethoven’s famous 9th Symphony echoed in the rafters of a Leicester church on Saturday evening, as the De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) Orchestra celebrated their first birthday in impressive style.

Nearly 200 attended Leicester’s Church of St James the Greater, to celebrate the momentous occasion which DMU’s Music Department had been billing as the highlight of their 2016/17 calendar. It didn’t disappoint.

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Leicester's Church of St James the Greater played host to the special event.

50 singers from choirs across Leicestershire and the Midlands performed the famous Symphony with the Orchestra and four leading vocal soloists; Belinda Evans (Soprano), Vanessa Heine (Mezzo), Adam Tunnicliffe (Tenor) and Stephen Kennedy (Baritone).

Opening with the celebratory Brahms ‘Academic Festival Overture’, the concert included the world premiere of ‘Perhaps’, written by celebrated composer and Philharmonia cellist, Richard Birchall who has a strong relationship with DMU.

The Orchestra’s Musical Director, Sam Burstin, conducted them through the three pieces which were met with rapturous applause from those in attendance at the interval and as Beethoven’s classic reached its uplifting crescendo.

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Sam Burstin conducts the DMU Orchestra at the Beethoven 9 event on Saturday.

Head of DMU Music Chris Heighton said: “After a year planning, it was an amazing experience to finally hear the Beethoven 9 performance, along with an audience of over 160 people and it sounded absolutely incredible in the Church of St James the Greater.

“The energy, spirit and dedication to the project from all orchestra and choir members was inspiring and a perfect conclusion to a remarkable first year for the DMU Orchestra.”

Chris and his team have been running a campaign recently called #LoveClassical, targeted at getting more people, particularly young audiences interested in classical music.

A series of videos have been released featuring various performers and influential figures from within the musical arena, offering thoughts on what classical music means to them.

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One of those was Sam Burstin, who joined DMU as Musical Director off the back of his impressive orchestra career with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales and New Zealand Symphony.

He said: “Anything that I listen to in the classical environment, I can’t help but analyse what is going on around me, working out why something works brilliant or why something doesn’t work so brilliantly.  

“I love classical music deeply and for me it is the pinnacle of human achievement in my view, over the wheel and sliced bread.

“Music is an art form, but has the identity of the human spirit and classical music brings to life that art form.”

‘Perhaps’, is a new commission for Soprano and Orchestra, premiered by the DMU Orchestra with Soprano soloist, Belinda Evans and a signed score of the piece was presented to the Music Department at the end of the concert as a birthday present and a memory of the occasion by Richard.

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Singers from choirs across Leicestershire and the Midlands joined in the party which nearly 200 people attended.

Richard said: "Saturday evening was such a wonderful occasion to celebrate the first birthday of the amazing DMU Orchestra.

"The event featured a triumphant rendition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, together with a strong chorus and terrific soloists.

"In the first half I was lucky enough to hear the premiere of my own piece 'Perhaps', for which the orchestra were joined by Soprano Belinda Evans."

Speaking about that performance, Richard said: "The performance has an extraordinary atmosphere, and gave real poignacny to Vera Britain's powerful poetry.

"The orchestra did incredibly well to bring the music up to concert level on such a limited rehearsal schedule and it was a pleasure to hear it for the first time.

"Congratulations to Chris Heighton and Sam for their achievements in the first year and exciting prospects for the future."

The DMU Orchestra have had an eventful year following Saturday’s performance and a visit to HM Prison Leicester back in January, where prisoners were given an insight into the world of classical music.

The DMU Orchestra are currently planning their calendar for performances during the 2017/18 series as they look to inspire more audiences.

See highlights from the special birthday performance on our YouTube.

And view our gallery from the event on Facebook.

Posted on Friday 23rd June 2017

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