REVIEW: Promenade Concert Orchestra, The Platform, Morecambe

Howard Rogerson.
Howard Rogerson.
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It was the sort of grey, gusty spring day on Morecambe Bay that called out to be ameliorated by some warming, traditional, indoor seaside entertainment.

Fortunately, Howard Rogerson and his Promenade Concert Orchestra, guest-led by Jill Jackson, were on hand at the Platform to provide just that.

‘Family Favourites’ was the title of their last concert of the 2014-15 season, and as usual it attracted a large and appreciative audience.

Sandwiched between the lush opening and closing arrangements of Richard Rodgers ‘With a Song in my Heart’ – the signature tune of the erstwhile BBC Light Programme’s long running ‘Family Favourites’ request programme - the concert contained a mix of mainly short, popular numbers.

These included a good selection from the pens of representatives of the elite group of British light music composers such as Eric Coates, Robert Farnon, Ronald Binge, Sidney Torch, Leroy Anderson and Ernest Tomlinson – whose family were present in the audience.

Nature was well represented in the programme - including a charming portrait of (fairly well behaved!) starlings by Charles Williams – whilst there were some exquisitely crafted descriptive pieces depicting various localities.

Several ‘fun’ pieces also featured – some of which became famous as signature tunes or advertisement themes. There were lively dance band arrangements, including two Bill Haley rock and roll songs, which brought the saxophone section vividly to the fore, although as a result the roles of the viola and woodwind sections were unfortunately temporarily usurped! Leroy Anderson’s ‘The Typewriter’ provided one of the highlights of the afternoon - with soloist Irene Wynne George playing her part (on arranger Ernest Tomlinson’s typewriter) - with gusto – even though the conductor rejected the first typescript!

Enjoyment was the keynote of the concert – it shone out from the composers’ tuneful scores, from the committed playing of the orchestra and its soloists, from the reactions of the audience, and from Howard Rogerson’s informed direction.

Long may this tradition of quality seaside live music making continue!