Notes from our MD

Spring 2024


This term’s programme has been the most complex in terms of musical, technical and ensemble challenges. The orchestra embraced the programme and performed with unparalleled aplomb, confidence and exquisite musicality.


Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Overture was performed with excellent control and fiery panache in the fast passages. The exquisite singing themes were played with tender feeling and colourful contrasts. The ensemble was pretty much perfect and the contrasting themes unfolded flawlessly in front of a knowledgeable, yet very excited audience.


Strauss’s Last Four Songs were simply stellar with a perfect ensemble work. The orchestra and the soloist interacted beautifully in a tender and evocative yet animated dialogue. The balance was pretty much perfect, allowing Lisa to shine with her gorgeous, bright voice and the orchestra to show its mastery as an accompanist as well as its wide palette of colours as the main character. The performance produced a lot of magical moments.


Scheherazade was incredibly well performed. Every soloist was top-notch. The first movement showcased brilliant dialogues between the Clarinets and flutes that were so well coordinated, that they sounded like one player. All this with brilliantly well-projected interventions for the solo cello! The second movement, which is by far the hardest, was performed perfectly well, with poise and great confidence. The first Bassoon solo, followed by the oboe and then by several interventions of the clarinet and horns were so well performed that again, the ensemble displayed an astonishing mastery of balance of the sound and brilliant storytelling capacity of the ensemble. The interventions of the trombone and trumpets gave stunning splashes of colour to the movement and the ending was focused, explosive and perfectly together.


The third movement was nostalgic, and sensuous and displayed a gorgeous contrast from the preceding one. The complex motions of speed were performed organically and convincingly by the orchestra.


That last movement was so well-focused and unfolded in such an unseemly manner that it felt much shorter than normal. Transitions were smooth and climaxes enveloped the audience with a well-projected sound that was always perfectly in tune. The wonderful interventions from lovely Ruth Faber playing the harp with absolute beauty were a joy and added the extra dimension the piece has to offer.


I want to congratulate absolutely everyone for such an incredible effort. I want to mention especially our amazing leader Clare Merchant, who not only led the orchestra in her usually poised and calm manner but also played all the solos from the Strauss and the Korsakov with such mastery of technique, beauty of sound and such a moving musicality! It was simply memorable!


Finally, I want to thank enormously Miles, Viv, Merrill, Josh, Trevor and all the other members and non-members of the MG (I apologise if I missed someone!) for all the huge effort they all put into the logistic part of organising the orchestra. Without them, The ESO wouldn’t exist!


Enjoy a very well-deserved Easter rest, because next term is another stepping stone for us and the programme will elevate the ESO to a whole new level in every thinkable way. At least, that is my intention!!




Exeter Symphony Orchestra Facebook page is now up and running – open to all . Feel free to contribute and invite your friends and don’t forget to tick ‘like’. There is also a Twitter page – with much feedback from our concerts. Again, please do feel free to contribute – @Exeter_Symphony

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