Saturday 23rd June 2018

A rendition of 'Happy Birthday TSO' by around 300 of an audience rang out in the Reid Hall on Saturday evening. In 1992, the late Ron Walker invited a number of his musical friends to come together to form an orchestra for a one-off fund raising concert in aid of CHAS. This performance was in 1993 and at the end of the evening, the musicians decided to carry on. Tayside Symphony Orchestra was born. Seven players from 1993 played tonight and Richard Allan, also a founder member, is now the resident conductor. Three families were orchestra members - a first for TSO.

The programme had the Anniversary theme and was packed full of wonderful music from Schubert to Bernstein. For the audience, it was an evening of sitting back and relaxing - and participating! However, this was not the case with the orchestra who had a taxing evening with a lot of technical difficulty to contend with. Despite the many obstacles which they faced, each orchestral family had more than one moment to savour.

The concert opened with Bernstein's 'Candide Overture'. Bernstein was born in 1918 and wrote the operetta in the vein of Offenbach and Gilbert and Sullivan. Dvorak composed the 'Slavonic Dances' in 1878 and throughout the score, each section of the orchestra brought to life the spirit and style of Slavic music that had so inspired him. The first half of the concert concluded with Wagner's Prelude to 'Die Meistersingers von Nuremberg', which was first performed in June 1868 - almost exactly 150 years before our concert. This was a powerful performance!

Schubert's 'Symphony No. 6' was composed between October 1817 and February 1818 and the orchestra’s spirited performance was certainly fitting for a 200th anniversary celebration. The woodwind section in particular shone throughout, carrying the tuneful and charming music with great aplomb. The concert concluded in a lighter vein with Lawson's 'Variations on Happy Birthday' – there were so many excerpts from well-known popular music contained within this piece it was impossible to count them all! Special mention must go to the melodic violin solo performed by the leader, Robert Dick. Richard Allan as conductor did a sterling job of guiding the orchestra through such a technical piece.

Such an evening of musical delight was an appropriate celebration of Tayside Symphony Orchestra’s first quarter century. In his closing remarks, Chairman Bill McLeod thanked all musicians, both past and present, committee members, Friends of TSO, sponsors and 'backroom personnel' for their support over the years. It was with great regret that he reported the retiral of the Honorary President, Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore. The Dowager Countess had been associated with the Orchestra from 1993 She had been most supportive at all times and her attendance at concerts and interest in the players had been outstanding. Secretary Agnes Mackay presented the Dowager Countess with flowers. The new Honorary President would be Mrs Georgiana Osborne, H.M. Lieutenant for Angus. The Anniversary Concert ended with an encore which needed no introduction - the 'Radetzky March' by Strauss, first performed 170 years ago on August 31st, 1848.

The next performance by TSO will be on 22 September, in the Reid Hall, Forfar.