Another twelve months have sped by, and it was time for the 2018 May Bank Holiday concert performed by the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra, which took place once again in the Gallery of Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, in North London. This house has a long history; it dates from 1582 and was briefly the home of King Charles II 's mistress, the famous (infamous ?) Nell Gwyn, whose ghost is reputed to haunt the building even unto this day ! Uncharacteristically glorious weather encouraged an excellent turnout, including several from the LLMMG (and their guests) and an unexpectedly large number of most welcome 'first-timers', in addition to many loyal 'regulars' – some of whom have supported every single one of these concerts during the last sixteen years.
As one of woefully few contemporary exponents of the Palm Court genre, the orchestra always manages to surprise and delight its audiences with new material, which is continually being added to an already extensive repertoire. This year's programme was no exception, and much of the music was totally new to the players !
Their mission is to feature compositions which have been totally forgotten or ignored, alongside more familiar favourites, and these can range from 'the highlights of the Palm Court era to the delightful but obscure', to quote from their concert programme. Amongst the roll-call of 'more familiar' composers were to be found the names of Jack Strachey, Vittorio Monti (of Czardas fame), George Gershwin (his opus 1, Rialto Ripples) , Albert Ketelbey, Matyas Seiber, Oscar Straus, Haydn Wood, (who lived for some years in Highgate, quite close to the venue), Gerhard Winkler and Cole Porter.
In addition to the purely instrumental pieces, the proceedings were - as always - enlivened and garnished with some songs from Liz Menezes (who also plays second violin) and Camilla Cutts.
As has been remarked upon in the past, the members of the ensemble perform with great competence and enthusiasm, and the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra can arguably be regarded as one of the very best of its type.
Congratulations and very many thanks are therefore due to Adam Bakker and his players for another splendid and extremely enjoyable afternoon of wonderful music.
© Tony Clayden 2018
Pictures above courtesy of Brian Luck
Footnote – The ADRO will be our guests at the next LLMMG event in October, at our usual venue in Central London - http://www.londonlightmusic.org.uk/news.htm.
As part of the Camden Fringe Festival, they are also giving two concerts at Burgh House, Hampstead, North West London, on Sunday 19th August, at 2.30 pm and 7.00 pm -