To celebrate the 150th. anniversary of the birth of Sir Edward Elgar, Tonbridge Philharmonic Society presented an ambitious and unusual concert. The personal commitment to both the planning of the programme and the conducting was evident in the thoughtfulness and intensity which conductor Robin Morrish displayed. Clearly both choir and orchestra were inspired and carried along by his vision.
We began with a broad and warm interpretation of the Prologue to The Apostles. It was apparent that this concert would demand a strong emotional response from both performers and audience. There were moments which captured both the ecstatic and the transcendent; the orchestra moving between a full-blooded solidity and a delicate, almost chamber music-like texture. Robin Morrish demanded and achieved just the right level of flexibility which Elgar’s music requires.
A highlight was the impact made by both the soloists. Both excelled at communication with the large audience. Caroline Walshaw (in The Spirit of England) demonstrated a wonderful sense of relaxed yet dignified authority and strong tonal colour in her antiphonal exchanges with the choir. Susan Legg, making her fifth visit to Tonbridge, captured the hearts of the performers and audience with her warm personality, unfaltering accuracy and intensity of delivery, all supported by a sense of unshakable serenity.