I plan to open the concert with the Overture to Sport so that the piece begins in a playful mood, as all sport begins in childhood as play, and then through careful development and dedication, we reach a triumphant conclusion. The clarinets will have to stay together as they are frequently called upon to play three-part harmony with each other. Conducting this will be fun as there is a lot to manage at the same time yet everyone doing different things. There are many time signature changes in this work and so keeping the orchestra on track throughout will be a challenge.
Divided into three movements, the Equestrian Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra expresses the horse, the rider and the relationship between them both from three different perspectives: Wild Horse, War Horse and Eventer. Throughout the three movements, the cello explores its wide range, from deep and sonorous, to mellow and singing, to a shrill and piercing voice which makes it such a versatile instrument. The horse hair bow of the cellist ever so naturally brushes across the varied gaits of the animal, be it the measured tempo of dressage, the adventurous leaps of show jumping or the vigorous energy of cross country. In conducting this piece I want to pay particular attention to the percussion and the soloist as they both must be kept in absolute time with each other.
After the concert interval we return to the Yachting Symphony, a Logbook in Four Movements, which begins under a Rising Mist, the flutes and slow strings creating a perfect atmosphere which accurately represents the condition of radiation fog. When I was sailing in the Azores, the thrill of finally being Underway, which is the second movement, is recalled in the swelling waves of the piano and smooth phrasing of the horns. As the voyage progresses across multiple time signature changes, we find ourselves Chasing the Wind in the third movement, as the woodwinds and percussion contradict each other at times while the brass and strings attempt to keep them together. Having found the wind and now racing to the finish, we keep a strict tempo, only going slower at times to keep us on course. With everyone focused now on Crossing the Line in the fourth movement, the themes are simplified and the rhythms become more intense. The finish horn finally blares out its call in the trumpets and the rigging and sails are left flogging on the xylophones. Gold has been won.