Bucks New Years Day String Quartet Concert in Ivinghoe – On Saturday the 1st of January, the Manor House String Quartet gave our first string quartet concert in St Mary’s Church, Ivinghoe – and appropriately for New Year’s Day, it was a recital of uplifting Viennese dance music.
As this was the first time we’d played in Ivinghoe, even though it’s only 2 miles away from Cheddington we weren’t expecting a large audience as it can take several concerts to establish a following in a particular village. Nevertheless, the evening proved very popular with the church appearing very full and over 75 audience members turning up to start the New Year Viennese style. Possibly the concert was so well attended because many people brought their families and friends who were visiting over New Year and there’s been a recent surge in the popularity of Strauss performances due to the Andre Rieu Johann Strauss orchestra receiving so much airplay on classical stations at the moment.
Pieces we performed included mostly popular classics such as the Blue Danube Waltzes, Emperor Waltz, Thunder and Lightning Polka, Radetsky March, March Millitaire by Schubert and some music by Schrammel and Lanner which were perhaps less well known but soon had people tapping their toes and swaying in their seats. The church laid on refreshments during the interval (including Viennese Whirls!) and we are particularly grateful to Charles Thorogood (a friend involved with the church) for telephoning all his contacts and helping to drum up an audience. No Viennese themed concert would be complete without a few bangs and whirls at the end and the audience showed great musicality with their party poppers, party blowers, Christmas crackers and clapping / stamping along to the two encores.
Much of the music by the elder Strauss and Lanner was originally written for smaller ensembles and never intended for huge symphony sized orchestras, so it sounded perfect for string quartet in a local church – many commented that this gave it a fresh intimacy. From a players point of view, it is much more fulfilling (although harder work!) than playing it in a symphony orchestra where it can feel a little anonymous, particularly for the inner parts which have to provide the second and third beats of the Waltz rhythm and it can become monotonous. In the quartet, the melody is sometimes shared out to give interest and although many professional musicians recoil at the idea of playing this repertoire as a result of so many repetitive orchestral concerts around New Year, the experience of playing in a quartet with an enthusiastic audience was completely different. We look forward to playing in Ivinghoe church again very soon.