REVIEW: DIT Symphony Orchestra, 6th December 2008, Whitla Hall Belfast 

Publication: culturenorthernireland.org

Publication Date: 9th December 2008

Reviewer: Graeme Stewart 

David Brophy conducts a night of classics at Queen's University's Whitla Hall Supported by the Catherine Judge Memorial Fund and Queen’s University School of Music and Sonic Arts, tonight's Whitla Hall concert is part of a tour for the DIT Symphony Orchestra, which also takes in Dublin's Alexandra College and their own Gleeson Theatre at the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Headlining the concert is talented cellist, David Sloan, who recently performed his own solo recital at the Belfast Festival at Queens as part of the Young Musicians’ platform, fittingly performed at the Ulster Bank Headquarters in Belfast city centre.

Under the baton of Dublin-based conductor, David Brophy, Mozart’s 'Overture' to The Magic Flute sees the orchestra open the concert in fine form - performing one of the master's most technically challenging works with ease. It's a lively and enjoyable interpretation of the work, mirrored in Brophy’s own vigorous conducting.

Next on the bill is Elgar’s epic Cello Concerto, a challenge for both orchestra and soloist, but certainly one worth the effort. Elgar’s work towers above other cello concertos for its sheer scope, particularly with regards to the soloists material, packed to the brim with harmonic and melodic invention. 

Tonight the DIT Symphony Orchestra bring the piece to life - a sterling job, given the modest size of the orchestra. Sloan delivers an impressive performance. Particularly assured is the ambitious final movement, which brings this remarkable work to a close.

So, how do you follow up one of the solo repertoire’s greatest works? The DIT Symphony Orchestra answer the question in their own inimitable way - with an even more famous one. 

Beethoven’s enduring Symphony No. 5 is performed with tremendous zeal. With perhaps the most famous opening of any symphony, Symphony No. 5 is a piece that the orchestra immediately engage with. Throughout the woodwind and brass soloists stand out, despite having plenty to keep them busy, in a piece with such variations of colour and style. 

The lyrical 'Andante con Moto' is one of the work’s highlights, and with each musician conscious of their place within the ensemble, it holds together particularly well. 

For me, however, what really underlines the strength of this orchestra is their vivacious performance of the work’s 'Allegro Finale'. With its rousing brass and string passages, the musicians step up to the challenge of the piece - its a triumph. 

Tonight the young musicians of the DIT Symphony Orchestra certainly make their mark. With the enthusiastic Brophy at the helm - who never fails to impress with his Bernstein-like zest for exciting repertoire - they could hardly have done anything less.

Graeme Stewart 

http://www.culturenorthernireland.org/