Aurora Orchestra – St George’s, Bristol

Sunday 30th December, 2018

This was another ticket I picked up in the Bristol flash culture sale, making it a bargain £11.25. You could get a cinema ticket for that, or a couple of pints, or you could hear a wonderful orchestra play for a couple of hours. My choice will always be the latter.

My knowledge of classical music is still limited (it has improved, mainly thanks to St George’s), but even I know you can’t go far wrong with a bit of Mozart.  I know you usually expect to find me on the outer fringes of the music scene (whatever the genre) but for tonight I was perfectly happy to hear very popular music composed by one of the greats. I’ve never heard the Overture to the Marriage of Figaro live before and its fabulous. There is a reason for its enduring popularity, it’s damn good music! Played with spirit and heart by the Aurora Orchestra, bringing to life music that is over 200 years old. They were joined by Imogen Cooper for Piano Concerto No 17 which was all sorts of lovely.

After the interval we were treated to more Mozart, Symphony No 39, one of his final works. It was playful, moving and possibly my favourite of the evening. It ranged from loving and gentle to stirring and emotional across its movements and I may have found the eyes moistening a little at points.

To conclude our evening we were given a lovely New Years treat, a trio of Strauss Waltzes. The piccolo polka was playful and fun and the only thing missing from either of the other two pieces was a handsome man whisking me around a dance floor in an 18C costume! It may have been the first time in 15 years that Aurora Orchestra has played a Strauss waltz, on the strength of tonight’s performance I say it shouldn’t be their last. They were stirring, enlivening and an awful lot of fun to hear. I left smiling and that is surely how any New Year’s Concert should make you feel.

There was a young man sat nearby me who said “I don’t know much about music” I didn’t get a chance to say to him, neither do I. What I have are open ears and an open heart. Go with those to hear music played live and you will find you have all the knowledge you need.

This was my final concert of 2018, a year that has seen me attend 80 gigs. That was never the aim at the outset of the year, it just sort of happened. 40 gigs changed me and changed my life. Heading out to a gig has become habit forming, ingrained and a very deep and important part of my soul. I couldn’t live without live music and I remain humbled and grateful to all the people who have continued to help me live my life this way. You know who you are and thank you.

As for 2019. Well, I’m back at St George’s again in just 14 days time for more musical adventures. There are the Jazz and Folk Festivals booked up, Ibibo Sound System, Terry Riley, Brass Band Ensemble and (fingers crossed for this one) Gaz Coombes at a castle to look forward to.

Look to the light, there is always hope somewhere.


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