It was an absolute privilege to walk into the warm, tranquil atmosphere of Elvet Methodist church and be serenaded by the DUPO Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Matthias Lichtenfeld, and leader Chris Savage.

Although this concert wasn’t a Christmas concert, it was lovely to have the surprise of ‘O Tannenbaum’ (‘O Christmas Tree’) at the start of the concert, and ‘Hark the Herald’ to finish (with the audience singing along). This got everyone into the Christmas spirit and tied the concert together nicely. Matthias also gave a really welcoming speech at the start of the concert; this made the audience feel really welcome for his premiere as a conductor in England!

The programme began with Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, which was a triumphant start from the orchestra showing their clear prowess and hard work over this term. Apart from a few high passages in the first violins which were not quite in tune, the string playing shone in this piece. A particularly surprising moment for the audience was when the whole orchestra stopped playing and sung a melody from a German drinking song which is prevalent throughout the work.

Next, we heard Brahms’ Symphony No.2 in D major which is in four contrasting movements and often proposed as Brahms’ most popular symphony. This symphony was captivating from start to finish, from beautiful lyrical moments to the magnificent sound of the whole orchestra. Particularly noticeable were some charming solos from principle oboist, Catherine Walker, and principle flautist, Giselle Lee, particularly in their exquisite duet in the first movement. Unfortunately, the problematic intonation in the high string playing continued throughout this piece and the exposed cello tune in the second movement also suffered from poor intonation despite the tone being very enjoyable. However, the pizzicato string section  was executed very well and perfectly in time. Although the brass playing at the start of the concert contained quite a few split notes, the exposed horn solo in the second movement of the Symphony was very impressive. Overall, Brahms’ Symphony was a treat for the audience and very well conducted by Matthias to create incredible results.

To summarise, the first concert of the year for DUPO Symphony was a massive hit! The orchestra worked very well together with their rhythmic tightness being particularly noticeable, under the excellent leadership of their conductor, Matthias Lichtenfeld.

The programme ended with Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No.8 in G minor, which was particularly exultant. This was my personal highlight of the concert as I felt the orchestra really worked well together. The well balanced sound throughout was complemented by the effective dynamic contrast, and the orchestra captivated the Slavonic character energetically. The percussion really shone in this piece, although it was a shame that they were hidden from the view of most of the audience. This year, DUPO Symphony and DUPO Chamber will be playing one of Dvořák’s Slavonic dances in every one of their concerts and I, for one, cannot wait!

To summarise, the first concert of the year for DUPO Symphony was a massive hit! The orchestra worked very well together with their rhythmic tightness being particularly noticeable, under the excellent leadership of their conductor, Matthias Lichtenfeld. The programme was hugely successful and personable with the Christmas touch being very well received by the audience. Watch out for DUPO’s next concert ‘Hats, Tangos and Shakespeare’ on the 13th December!