The new Concert Series got off to a superb start with a well-chosen selection of 20th century music stylistically appropriate to the main work, a performance of Stravinsky’s masterpiece The Soldier’s Tale.

The ‘Little Concert Ensemble’, a group of professional musicians which included two of our visiting instrumental teachers, gave this concert in celebration of the centenary of this remarkable and influential piece which was first performed in September 1918. Scored for a chamber ensemble of violin, clarinet, trumpet, bassoon, trombone, double bass and percussion, it bears all the hallmarks of Stravinsky’s eclectic musical style, fusing elements of classical, jazz, early musical theatre and vibrant tango rhythms.

Tim Dickinson, on the vocal studies staff, performed songs by Vaughan Williams and Gershwin in the first half of the concert and was simply wonderful as narrator for The Soldier’s Tale which tells the story of a fiddle-playing soldier who enters into a contract with the devil to swap his beloved violin for the promise of unlimited riches, but is cruelly tricked. Tim Dickinson effortlessly characterised the soldier, the devil and a host of other characters, holding the audience spellbound throughout.

The concert also included music by Vaughan Williams and Scriabin, as well as a delightful original composition by Paul Moylan, the double bass player of the ensemble. This was a well thought out and wonderfully entertaining concert for the start of the new season which was much enjoyed and appreciated.