Distant airborne flocks of birds and the mountains of the Lake District were clearly visible across the expanses of Morecambe Bay on a calm and pleasant autumnal Sunday afternoon.
Against this backdrop, concert-goers made their way with eager anticipation to the musical feast on offer at the Platform in the first concert of the orchestra’s eighth consecutive season. The formula, so successfully employed by conductor Howard Rogerson over the past seven years, has been to provide local audiences with high quality live orchestral music that is tuneful, varied and attractively scored in value-for-money programmes that combine the familiar with the neglected, and to ensure that the music is played in both a professional and an enthusiastic manner in a friendly atmosphere. Sunday’s concert – entitled Dancing Nights - contained all these ingredients and got the new season off to a superb start. The expertly constructed and ambitious programme featured 19th and 20th century dance music from all over Europe, and slightly beyond, including examples of ballet and opera, concert works, incidental music, and folk tune arrangements. The importance of dance and its various rhythms to the development of music in all its forms was very effectively showcased. The orchestra perhaps took a little time to get into its stride in the beautiful opening overture, Sullivan’s Di Ballo, but thereafter played with its usual blend of elegance, grace, vigour and panache. Besides famous works by Brahms, Smetana, Tchaikovsky and others, there were less familiar works including two charming pieces by English composers.