What: Sunset Symphony: A Viennese Midsummer Night
Who: Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra
When: Sunday, 19 February, 2017
Where: Rhododendron Lawn, Hamilton Gardens
Conductor: Rupert d’Cruze

Paris may have been the heart of fashion, but Vienna was the guide to style.

With some obvious cross referencing to The Last Night Of The Proms, and, despite our title, Vienna’s traditional New Year’s concert, tonight’s performance by the Trust Waikato Symphony Orchestra had style.

Under the instructive baton of conductor Rupert d’ Cruze, and showing the effects of some planning genius and their own annual critical reviews of the Gardens Festival concerts going back over a decade, this performance was entertaining, satisfying, and foot tappingly accessible music and musicianship.

For many, this was a first classical concert, and for others, the classics were annual Sunset Symphony visits, but MC Chris Lam Sam provided gentle backgrounding with which, while wit was sometimes replaced with wittering, the audience was well served.

They began on command cheering in a careful piano and built to enthusiastic double forte in a laughing response to his exhortations to cheeeeer more loudly, and an exercise in counting the 1 2 3 of a waltz rhythm was made enormous fun as he produced his kazoo, and sounded the Blue Danube waltz as the audience shouted their sectional beats.

The participation drew a huge audience response, and their mood for appreciating the music, all classical, drawn from significant composers from Bizet to Tchaikovsky, was enthusiastically positive.

Cunningly foot tapping pieces such as the Toreador song from Carmen, Strauss’s Radetzky March with its traditional audience clapping sequences, and the final 1812 Overture with spectacular fireworks effects, were memorable.

But then so too were the solo tours des forces such as the superb flute in the Bizet and trumpeter Kobayashi’s extraordinary technical discipline and creative interpretations of the traditional Trumpet Voluntary and  Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday.

The fact that the projected large screen music and sound were out of synch was distracting, d’Cruze conducting, or tympany player striking live, for example, did not match the screen display, but that was small beer when everyone enjoyed this concert so much.

Well done the TWSO! You nailed it.

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