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Live! - Culture

An Orchestral Delight

Nov 30 2003 16:46
Simon Pascoe
ICSM Orchestra take to the stage to present an exciting programme of music to suit all tastes.
Sarah Woo plays the solo in Grieg's Piano Concerto

Imperial College's Medics Music Society once again take the to stage a week after their choir concert, although this time showing off their orchestra in the wonderful setting of St. Augustine's Church on Queens Gate, South Kensington. With an exciting and famous programme of music, this concert promised to be a wonderful evening out, and indeed, one was not disappointed.

To open their concert, we were treated to the lively and vibrant overture from Glinka's opera, “Ruslan and Lyudmila”. This opera was first performed in 1842 and was Glinka's second opera. Encouraged by the success of the first (“A Life for the Czar”) he based this on Pushkin's dramatic poem of the same name. However, this was not to have the success of his first and was a failure due to the death of Pushkin, which resulted in the libretto being written by another person and hence lacking the dramatic flair that was needed. The overture is renowned as a technical challenge for the upper strings, and the orchestra sailed through the energetic opening theme with no problems at all - a great achievement! The contrast between the initial opening theme and the more subdued string melody was handled well and special mention should go to all the woodwind soloists who played with feeling and great tone. At each natural crescendo and build in the music the orchestra held their pace and did not run away, which in a piece as complex as this is a credit to them – and to their conductor, Matt Whitaker. The recap of the initial theme towards the end was just as vibrant and expressive as it was in the opening which lead to a superb finale of a wonderful performance of this tricky work. My only criticism here is that perhaps the venue was not entirely suitable, as the long reverberation time of the church meant that some definition was lost in the brass, and in the loudest of sections as the sound clashed slightly with its own echo.

The highlight and headline piece this evening was Grieg's famous Piano Concerto in A Minor (Opus 16). A popular and successful piece since it's premiere in 1869, this is a favourite of radio stations and concerts alike. However, it also makes a refreshing change from the Rachmaninov Piano Concertos. The music takes much from German Romanticism but Grieg also combines some Norwegian folk music. The opening of the piano in fact contains the “Grieg motif” - a descending minor second followed by the major third – and this is used extensively in this piece and many of his other works. This is taken from the folk music.

From the opening motif on the piano, one could tell this was going to be a spirited and charismatic performance by the soloist, third year medic Sarah Woo. Playing since she was 5, she has played in many concerts and won a number of prizes for her performing skills. Tonight's was no exception – the orchestra took 'a break' after the opening of the concert and allowed the solo piano to come through beautifully. The firm but delicate playing of the orchestra only served to enhance the overall performance. Passing through the opening of the concerto (the most well-known section) Miss Woo took on a sensitive yet determined style in order to fully bring out all the expression written into the piece and the church took on a wonderful atmosphere as the music played. The second movement followed very much in the style of the first, where her skill was very much in evidence with the expression in the quieter sections not faltering at all. In the third movement the range of dynamics and control over the piano helped create an excellent finish to the concerto. One must make special note to the playing towards the end of the movement – the beautiful chord progressions sounded absolutely superb. A exceptional performance and one not to be forgotten anytime soon! Hopefully we will see more this partnership between ICSM Orchestra and Miss Woo in future concerts.

After a short interval, we were treated to Brahms' 1st Symphony – a less well known piece but still frequently performed. Dated 1876, it builds upon some of the ideas from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony - it too displays a struggle from C minor to C major and ends triumphantly. The piece is very different to the others from tonight's concert – it is much more dense and contrapuntal and gives a sense of greatness which the orchestra brought across very effectively. Right from the start, the concentration of the orchestra meant that each melody and expression marking came across to the audience – a necessary task for this thick, textured music. This did however suffer a little from the acoustics of the church, sometimes the music turned a little 'mushy' – although not at the orchestra's fault. Nevertheless, the orchestra built towards the finale, and the piece finished off well rounded and was a great performance.

Tonight's concert was as expected, to a high standard, and whilst the orchestra is smaller than Imperial College Symphony Orchestra, this didn't prove to be a problem, and the level of technical ability is surely comparable. Special credit should go to Sarah Woo for a superb performance, and also to the individual soloists on the other pieces. Credit should also go to Matt Whitaker as this was his first local concert as conductor after sucessfully auditioning for full directorship this summer. ICSM Orchestra will return for their next concert in Spring, which I expect will be of the same high standard shown tonight. Well done to all involved!

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Discussion about “An Orchestral Delight”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. chi   
Mar 26 2004 14:50

it's good that the orchestra is being diverse in the music it produces because this is the only way to attract more people in an age where classical music is really ignored by the younger generations.

2. chi   
Apr 01 2004 17:57

i forgot to add that wit duncan and simon we now have two great jurnos covering the musical scence at IC!

Apr 07 2004 21:06

why are all the replies coming up for about a few hours and then they are censored before most people have any chance to respond to them?

Apr 14 2004 18:39

has anybody been covering the music over easter weekend?

Apr 14 2004 19:23

The fairies have been at work censoring culture all over live. Whether Drama, literature, Music or theological debate...

Apr 14 2004 22:35

Two suggestions:

1. Live should have a set of 'house rules' explaining what is deemed acceptable and what is deemed unacceptable (offensive language, political invective etc.)

2. In the instance of a post being deleted, the post should not just vanish. The administrator should leave a message in its place very briefly explaining why the post has been deleted.

These changes are important and will only improve Live.

Apr 16 2004 14:46

i agree - i feel disappointed in the editors

8. B.T.   
Apr 16 2004 17:19


Apr 16 2004 18:46

Story about exams:

"He doesn't want help from anyone and he'd never copy anyone else's work...That's why we respect him."

Shyoram Yadav, Imperial College salutes you.

Apr 16 2004 19:06

At Imperial you can't properly retake any exams. there is a possibility for retake but this only allows a passing grade at most!

silly system....

11. laura   
Apr 16 2004 19:31

The editors are fascists!

Stop censorship Now!!

Apr 16 2004 23:59

Censorship is fine as long as it exists within a framwork of house rules.

At the moment there are no rules - just anarchy and the editors are acting like GRAND EXECUTIONERS. The other day they eliminated about 1,500 posts which were about the middle-east. What's that all about?? Yeah, pretend it never happened - nothing exists outside the bounds of the Union.

One more rant: the central library. What's going on there??! Every time I go there it's packed to the rafters and I have to go back home. The reason is because (and I know this for a fact) students from other London Unis are USING OUR LIBRARY SPACE by the hundreds. Quite frankly WE have paid for 24hr libraries and students from other universities are getting the benefits. Of course they should be allowed to use our library but during exam time only Imperial Students should be let in.

This is a serious situation. You try finding somewhere to revise in the Library nowadays during the week - not possible.

13. sporty   
Apr 18 2004 12:14

You might want to read the disclaimer, accessible on the left hand side of the front paeg.

Apr 18 2004 17:43

i'm glad that music is still domintaing the agenda at IC

Apr 19 2004 19:04

i must say that live seems to be a bit quiet over the last couple of days - people are doing far too much work!

Apr 19 2004 21:02

This is true. there are sooooooooooooo

many exams and soooooooooooooooooooo

little time.

I hate exam season.

Ok Back to work....

Apr 19 2004 21:42

besorot tovot, yeshuot ve nehamot...

Apr 19 2004 22:56

The official 5 worst things in life according to 'Get a Life' magazine:

5. Mark Goodier (Radio 1 DJ)

4. Chronic diarhoea/food poisoning

3. "Oh my God you know like whatever" or people who say that rubbish phrase

2. Annoying dips**t who asks a lot of questions in lectures

1. Exams

19. John   
Apr 19 2004 23:51

I have got 4 and 1...

life is hell...


Apr 20 2004 12:17

in true erwinian fassion i feel i have to make it clear that exams are not an excuse for not posting.

21. Kol   
Apr 20 2004 13:31

All of Imperial must bear witness each one to each other

Apr 20 2004 16:39

especially at a time like this

23. Marcos   
Apr 20 2004 18:31

Yeah, life's a bitch then you marry one...

24. Clivey   
Apr 20 2004 19:57

I once had a friend called Clive

who was a Chemical master

who Spent his free time on live!

and made sure to sit where there was a paper

as that was the only way to thrive..

Apr 21 2004 17:16

I once had a friend called Clive,

Who used to eat cheese and chive*,

He was a chemical master,

Made sure to sit where there was a paper,

But he still wrote s**t limericks on Live.

(*as in flavoured crisps. Noone eats cheese and chive on it own)

26. c!   
Apr 21 2004 22:33

To Unimpressed,

What have the 1500 middle east posts got to do with the ICSM Orchestra? This is, afterall, a place to discuss the article and things relating to it.

I am sure you must remember the justice to palestine page which had over a Megabyte of text in the response? Well this isn't the place to have those discussions

You talk about "outside the bounds of the union". Maybe you should use websites outside the bounds of the union for these discussions

27. Chris   
Apr 21 2004 23:17

When I go in the library it is often full. By full I mean all the desks are taken, but about 1/3 of all the people in there are having lunch / having a break.

If people weren't so antisocial and took their bags with them when they go for lunch this wouldn't be a problem.

Plus of course there's that sign in the library saying report unattended bags, at a rough guess there are almost 100 unattended bags at any one time.

28. Chris   
Apr 21 2004 23:18

When I said "but about 1/3 of all the people in there" I meant people whos stuff is in there

Apr 21 2004 23:20


You misunderstand me.

My point is that there has to be an explicit set of house rules in these discussion forum.

If this is not a forum for any sort of political discussion (like the Middle-East crisis) then that has to be stated clearly in a set of forum guidelines or something to that effect.

Hundreds of posts have been deleted for obvious reasons. Several posts have been deleted for not so obvious reasons. All I am calling for is that Live contributors should have some rights and I don't think I'm being unreasonable. If this isn't the place to have those types of discussions then we should know about it.

30. C!   
Apr 21 2004 23:30

You do have to click on a link "Discuss article" which kind of implies you are discussing the article itself

Apr 22 2004 00:06

And what is it with those distracting people who think noone can hear them whispering in libraries. "Oooh! I know! Methinks I'll whisper to my friend for the next half hour and no one will hear me". We CAN hear you and you ARE the illegitimate spawn of Saruman - so shut the hell up!!!!

Apr 22 2004 00:16

"which kind of implies you are discussing the article itself"

Kind of not good enough. Other forums have rules - why not ours?

It's a matter of legitimacy. In fact to be entirely consistent I will stop posting now until contributors are given their rights.

33. chris   
Apr 22 2004 02:48

the people in the library wispering. Were you refering to the ones tonight? On level 5 who weren't even attempting to keep the noise down?

Apr 22 2004 08:43

No, these scumbuckets were on level 3. But I do not think it was an isolated case.

Apr 22 2004 08:49

try getting to the library before lunchtime and it wouldnt be such a problem for you.

btw, what has all this got to do with simon's lovely article on the icsm orchstra?

36. Roald   
Apr 22 2004 15:30

I am unimpressed by the whole situation. If we want to discuss music, the middle eastor middle eastern music we should be aloud to. Censorship is wrong (unless any laws are broken or perhaps obscenities are used) because it always requires subjective decisions and the recent random censorings of several discussion areas is typical of that and reveals the inherent bias of the editor.

37. Giles   
Apr 22 2004 15:36

I personally hate those people who give you dirty looks when you whisper a word of greeting to an old friend in the library -level 5 in particular. At times one is prepared to forguve the scowling look, the tut-tutting, especially when coming from a rather pleasent looking young lady whose presence otherwise serves to brighten up the library, but when one is confronted with a hairy rugby-playing materials student one feels a desire to vituperate at the highest volume possible this specimen of anti-social behaviour. But then the distrubing pangs of Revision and the etiquette ingrained through years of ggood upbringing and repsect bring one back to reality and one wonders back down into the corridors of quiet study to face the fast approaching moment of truth.

38. Roald   
Apr 22 2004 15:38

I am unimpressed by the whole situation. If we want to discuss music, the middle east or middle eastern music we should be allowed to. Censorship is wrong (unless any laws are broken or perhaps obscenities are used) because it always requires subjective decisions and the recent random censorings of several discussion areas is typical of that and reveals the inherent bias of the editor.

Apr 26 2004 23:11

happy independence day everyone

40. amram   
Apr 27 2004 14:16

to you too!

Apr 27 2004 16:09

for my next birthday, maybe the icsm orchestra will perform barenboim's piece, mavet learafat in c minor

Apr 27 2004 16:47

Happy independence day.

However, I think we are seeing the American dream at its darkest hour right now.

I just read about an 15-year old schoolboy who was interrogated by Special Services after he drew an anti-war picture during an art lesson. Apparently they are starting disciplinary action against the pupil for drawing a picture of George Bush as the devil. The piece was called "Stop the war against terror".

And on an unrelated theme - two state-of-the-art projectors have been stolen from the Tanaka centre.

Apr 27 2004 19:10

!!!!!!!!!!Actually - what the hell are you people talking about? It's not independence day today - that's the 4th July.

44. amram   
Apr 27 2004 20:55


45. Yossi   
Apr 27 2004 20:56

I prefer mavet learavim ve hasmol..

46. hosni   
Apr 27 2004 21:43

happy independence day everyone. my preferred piece is "tahargu oti gam"

Apr 28 2004 11:54

welcome back everyone, it's so good to be here again!

48. Yemani   
Apr 28 2004 18:25

It's coming. If you will it it is no dream...

Apr 28 2004 23:41

i hear that soon they may perform "palm oasis" or "dinghy" or even "south village" and "song of the sea"

50. Yemani   
Apr 29 2004 00:03


Not familiar with that piece?

May 02 2004 11:23

i believe in the original it was called "dugit"

May 02 2004 11:28

my friend sharon doesnt like that piece. she commissioned a vote among all of us as to what we though. i said "sharon, we love you but we're vboting against"

May 02 2004 21:57

looks like the piece wasnt as disengaging as some might have thought

May 02 2004 21:59

David, do you not have anything better to do with your time?

55. David   
May 03 2004 00:17

Mustafa, sorry to dissapoint you but it is not me who is posting above. I am sure you can check. I assume you are referring to "armande"

best wishes.

May 03 2004 17:35

i am armande. who is mustafa? if you dont like posts about classical music, then dont read them.

May 03 2004 19:54

this post still seems to be going well

May 03 2004 21:43

I have a cousin called mustafa but he lives in stoke on trent.I think it is an Assumed named based on that classic hit song "Ya Mustafa, Ya Mustafa"

But that is what one of my sources from IC chamber orchestra has told me- off the record. He said something like this "Ma'aku, my dear fellow, there is no such thing as Mustafa- it is a figment of your imagination"

"Why dear fellow does he post on live?" I retorted "Ah, old man, that is a clever pseudonym.You don't there is anybody really called Nia ,Simon, Mustafa or Valerie?"

"Well of course not I said" (although I was somewhat taken aback as while the others were obvious fakes I had somwehat childishly thought that Valerie was a real person- she reminded me so much of my great Aunt from tul-carm on sea...)

another day in the wonderful life of an engineer...

May 04 2004 13:05

i agree entirely

May 04 2004 23:22

My apologies David. I no longer have any editorial involvement with Live! so I don't see the IP logs any more.

I assume it must be your friend from Jesus College, Cambridge.

Closed This discussion is closed.

Please contact the Live! Editor if you would like this discussion topic re-opened.


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