Review: Doctors note-perfect in Warwick Arts Centre concert

Jess Gillam played saxophone in the concert
Jess Gillam played saxophone in the concert

Clive Peacock reviews the European Doctors Orchestra at Warwick Arts Centre

Whilst demonstrating unparalleled warmth and camaraderie, a 100-plus committed doctors and a couple of dentists, presented a passionately engaged programme of established works in the first of two concerts this year. A second coming together will take place at Cadogan Hall in October. The orchestra came into being in the UK in 2004, performing across the UK and Europe; next year Nantes and Essen will host their efforts.

Walton’s Spitfire requires concentration levels by the percussion section expected of medical practitioners; fortunately Yvette Pyne is one of those practitioners and, as a result, her cymbals delivery was precise, accurate and enthusiastic. She excelled, too, during Elgar’s Enigma Variations; so, too, did Tim Dornan on contrabassoon, during one the most appropriately-paced versions heard at the Arts Centre in recent years. At no point did conductor Simon Wright allow the orchestra’s enthusiasm to run away with the work.

The orchestra’s chosen charity was the OHMI Trust (pronounced ‘oh-me’) to enable music-making for the physically disabled. No-one is better equipped to demonstrate the importance of their work than Nicholas McCarthy, born without a right hand, yet determined enough to complete graduate studies at RCM in 2012. He tackled Ravel’s Concerto for left hand before leaving his audience speechless with his own arrangement of Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G minor, Opus 23 No 5, plus Scriabin’s Nocturne Opus 9 for left hand. This was a wonderful exhibition of exhilarating playing.

The petite, sparkling Jess Gillam glittered and charmed her audience with her transcription for saxophone of Marcello’s Oboe Concerto. She is a rare talent; many will remember her 2016 Young Musician of the Year performances, not least her semi-final rendition of Pedro Iturralde’s Pequena Czardas. Within minutes of the selfie-sharing ending to the concert she was on her way back to her hometown of Ulverston.