The evening started with Postcards from Russia, a medley of five popular Russian songs which had been beautifully arranged by a member of the orchestra, second violinist, Iain McDonald, and which gave an opportunity for different sections of the orchestra to demonstrate their skills.
This was followed by the show-piece of the evening, Rachmaninov’s second piano concerto with pianist Paulius Rudokus the young soloist.
What wonderful sounds he coaxed out of the piano, ranging from softly lyrical passages to incredibly powerful chords and runs. The balance between the piano and the orchestra was excellent.
After the interval we were treated to Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, and then Journey through Space, an orchestral suite by the contemporary composer Tom Cunningham who was in the audience.
This was only the second performance of the piece, the previous one being in Edinburgh, but it deserves to be played many times again.
The last piece in the programme was an arrangement by John Whitney of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris suite.
The programme was well put together, giving plenty of variety, from classical to contemporary, well-known to unknown, lyricism to excitement, and the orchestra coped well with all the demands made of it.
There were plenty of opportunities for the different sections to excel and there was some lovely solo work, especially from the woodwind and brass sections.
John Paterson, the president of the orchestra, presented Bob with a parting gift and made a short, but heartfelt, speech of appreciation for all the work that he has done, and then Bob led the orchestra in an arrangement of Auld Lang Syne followed by a piece of Scottish music which had the audience tapping feet and clapping hands and ending in tumultuous applause and a standing ovation. By this time many people, both in the orchestra and in the audience, had a few tears to
Bob will be very sadly missed. He constantly stretched the orchestra and never let it become complacent or stale, always being committed to performing new and exciting works.