A rather chilly Monday May 30th saw the 2016 Spring Bank Holiday Concert given by the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra. This was their fifteenth consecutive event and, after a number of years at Lauderdale House in Highgate, for this year the concert returned to its original ‘home’, Burgh House in Hampstead. This has a fine, if somewhat compact, music room, which was totally filled to capacity; this did not deter the audience from enjoying a really splendid afternoon of high quality ‘Palm Court’ music. The latter is very much a ‘threatened genre’ and opportunities for hearing live performances are, sadly, few-and-far- between in an age where it has been totally abandoned by music publishers and the BBC alike. The orchestra has, however, managed to amass a considerable collection of sheet music which includes compositions from Europe, America and the UK.
We were treated to a wide-ranging selection of pieces, some by well-known composers such as Edvard Grieg, Reginald King, Montague Ewing, Haydn Wood and Ivor Novello. Other, less familiar names also figured prominently, and included a wonderful work by Theo Bendix –The Butterfly – featuring an amazing virtuosic performance on the flute by newcomer Zara Jealous. The repertoire included both purely instrumental and, additionally, vocal numbers performed by Camilla Cutts and also Liz Mendes, who is the orchestra’s second violinist. Some of the items were quite familiar even if their names were less-so, e.g. Serenata (Rimpianto) by Toselli and Whistling Rufus by Kerry Mills.
The orchestra performed with its customary combination of precision, panache and great enthusiasm; it’s very obvious that the players very much enjoyed these works as much as the audience did ! So, once again, many thanks are due to Adam Bakker and the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra for continuing to ‘fly the flag’ for the noble art of ‘Palm Court’.
© Tony Clayden 2016