Reviewed by Judith Caldwell
Boris Brott and the National Academy Orchestra treated us to an evening of British music plus Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto #1. At first this might seem like an odd choice but it turns out that Mendelssohn was a great Anglophile who lived in Britain for extended periods and was a great favourite of Queen Victoria.
Before the music began Maestro Brott was presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal by our former Lt. Governor Lincoln Alexander.
The music began with the audience singing ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Oh Canada.’ This was followed by ‘Royal Tribute’ by Alexander Brott (father of Boris) who was commissioned by the CBC to produce a work in celebration of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. It began with drum rolls and trumpets that included a funeral march in remembrance of George VI; a violin solo representing the new young Queen and a rousing finale.
Next we were treated to Valerie Tryon playing the Mendelssohn – a lovely lush piece in three moods. The final molto allegro e vivace is the best known and weaves in reminders of the previous movements before the brilliant conclusion. I don’t usually comment on the clothes worn by soloists, but Valerie Tryon tonight wore a gorgeous multi coloured gown that seemed just right for this sparkling, brilliant music she played so well.
After intermission… a surprise. A group called What the Folk consisting of a father; two sons, plus two ladies named Caroline. They sang two Newfoundland folk songs and just blew us all away. I intend to hear them again next Wednesday evening at the Ancaster Market and hope to hear a lot more of this group. One of the Carolines is also a violist with the orchestra. A bit of a stretch to include this in “Rule Britannia” but I am glad it happened.
The remainder of the evening was definitely British, first William Walton’s Orb and Septre which was again written for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. It was conducted by Brendan Hagan, the apprentice director. He & Brott shared conducting duties for the final offering- the Enigma Variations of Sir Edward Elgar. These familiar pieces were well played and well received.
We had opened with both Country’s anthems, and closed the evening with a rousing ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ – very properly British!