Why is it that amateur and community orchestras can be so much more adventurous in their programming than the heavily-funded behemoths who occupy Carnegie and other great halls?
After writing on Nigel Kennedy’s current advocacy for the Mieczyslaw Karlowicz concerto, I heard from two players who had been involved in performances in the past year.
Francis Norton of London, a member of the (amateur) Royal Orchestral Society, reported his delight at a concert he played in at St John’s, Smith Square, with Florence Cooke as soloist. ‘I thought the concerto was at least as good as the Bruch,’ he wrote. ‘She played it brilliantly, and it has become one of my favourite violin concerti, (together with Dohnanyi’s No.2).
Next up was Odette Burgess, librarian and back row cello player in the Peterborough Symphony Orchestra of Ontario, Canada, a country town of 70,000, some 80 miles from Toronto.
She writes: ‘Our conductor, Michael Newnham, studied in Poland and married a Polish girl who is now our principal cellist. We had done Karlowicz’s Eternal Songs last year and Michael thought we would enjoy the violin concerto. And we certainly did! The soloist, Erica Dobosowiecz, who is based in Mexico City, learned it especially to play it with us. And she was wonderful! And it was a lovely piece to accompany – our horns which were featured prominently in many places were top notch! The audience loved it!’
So there you have it – a fine piece, with both audience and musician appeal, yet you will search in vain for a professional performance anywhere outside of Poland. Why is that? I wonder.