Culture editor Sum Sze Tam ventured into a stained-glass church for an evening of atmospheric music that veered from the brassy, to rousing, to the absolutely beautiful
Perhaps the most impactful thing about this concert, before it even began, was the venue. Set in St Teilo’s church on Woodville Road, the audience are seated on pews in between the pillars of the church interior. You’re surrounded by stained glass, and when the bands begin tuning their instruments, the sound fills the whole room in equal measure, reaching the high ceilings and the width of St Teilo’s.
The first half of the concert was performed by the City of Cardiff Concert Band, or more informally known as Windband Society, a congregation of jolly musicians all playing brass or woodwind instruments. Approximately 40 members strong, they begin with a steady performance of the Overture to Pirates of Penzance. What follows is a range of songs, including a Disney medley, movements from Nigel Hess’ ‘East Coast Pictures’, and Morning Mood from the Peer Gynt Suite (an often-heard piece that has been featured in Top Gear and How I Met Your Mother).
The band were an enjoyable set of musicians to hear, producing a real sense of musical gusto when the two conductors, Alex Creamer and Andy Warnock, teased it out of them. Where the band played in unison, the quality of the sound they produced was fantastic, though smaller, more complex sections of their songs were slightly less cohesive. The players were capable of great volumes of sound, though I would have liked to see a bit more usage of the band’s full dynamic range, particularly at the quieter levels of volume.
After a brief intermission, the Cardiff University Chamber Orchestra played Siegfried Idyll by Wagner, a piece originally written as a birthday present for Wagner’s second wife Cosima. This exquisite piece, one of Wagner’s rare non-operatic ones, was performed with a delicate purpose and charm, led by conductor _. If you like classical music, this performance of the symphonic poem would have delighted you; if this genre of music isn’t entirely your cup of tea, audience members could not deny the tightness of the Orchestra’s technical skill, and the calm beauty of Wagner’s piece.
The concert was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, a goodwill celebration of community music set in a beautiful church, showcasing a large range of instrumental musical genres and musical ability.