Airedale Symphony Orchestra, Family Concert, King’s Hall, Ilkley, Sunday, June 24, 2018

THE sun drenched King’s Hall was jam packed for a generous programme designed for Sunday afternoon family enjoyment. On stage, the musicians of the Airedale Symphony Orchestra were casually dressed and conductor John Anderson had discarded his concert evening jacket in favour of an elegant snooker finals-style waist coat. The informal atmosphere was much better for fostering a rapport with parents and children alike. So too was John’s easygoing dialogue with the youngest members of the audience.

Following a deluge of cheers for a medley from Klaus Badelt’s swashbuckling music for Pirates of the Caribbean, John and the Orchestra indulged the kids by encoring the thrilling final pages. The spacious theme from John Barry’s film score for Out of Africa calmed things down until Elmer Bernstein’s rugged theme from The Magnificent Seven stirred them up again.

Next, came a very special treat. American actor Michael Boudewyns had flown in from Maine, USA - coincidentally making his UK debut - to narrate George Kleinsinger’s Tubby the Tuba. ASO principal tuba Matthew Wiggins played the eponymous solo instrument with obvious relish. An undoubted highlight of Michael’s Vaudeville-inspired narration was his delightful voice and hand puppet characterisation of Kermit the Frog. A darkened auditorium with a spotlight on both soloists would have added that indefinable magic to such a theatrical performance.

Later on, however, a couple of youngsters revelled in the opportunity to wave John Anderson’s magic baton in front of the orchestra before the maestro himself took over to conduct Harry’s Wondrous World, from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Next up, principal trumpet Laurence Killian’s own Celebration for Orchestra showcased every section of the ASO in this, their 120th birthday year.

The magical world of film provided the grand finale to a fun packed programme: three iconic James Bond themes, Max Steiner’s music from A Summer Place, arranged by Laurence Killian and - most exciting of all - the Main Titles from John Williams’ immortal music for Star Wars.

And finally...John Anderson and the ASO raised the roof with the tumultuous brass and bells climax to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture - a foretaste of their Leeds Town Hall concert on Sunday, 21st October.

Geoffrey Mogridge