Sunday 11th July 2021 at South Molton Methodist Church
The grand finale to the second weekend of Arts Destination South Molton’s Deep Roots Festival 2021 was an upbeat performance from local wind quartet, Giocoso, performing to a socially-distanced capacity audience at the Methodist Church.
The programme largely comprised a selection of popular classics, including several expertly-arranged by the group’s horn-player, Tom Bayliss, and a rarely-performed classical quartet by Carl Stamitz, perhaps best known by viola players for his concerto being a standard audition requirement for professional orchestras around the world.
The afternoon opened with movements of Handel’s Water Music, appropriately enough, as it was pouring outside; this was followed by Elgar’s Chanson de Matin. Next was Tom Bayliss’ arrangement of English Country Gardens which, he advised us, was interspersed with turnips and ladies! The damsels in question were an array of musical heroines, including Carmen, Polly Perkins and (‘come into the garden’) Maud. These references certainly kept some of the audience keen-eared! This was followed by another arrangement, this time of a Gilbert and Sullivan medley, with melodies from Patience, Ruddigore, The Sorcerer, The Mikado and The Yeoman of the Guard. The aforementioned Stamitz followed: in three short movements, there was much bonhomie in evidence, with a nudge from the bassoonist not to take the finale too fast and acknowledgment from the flautist at the end that “that was probably the fastest we’ve ever taken it”! After a brief interlude of The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, it was time for the grand finale: a pocket-sized reduction of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. For the cannon effects, the audience had been provided with party poppers and these were let off with great gusto when cued.
It was the first public performance of the year by Giocoso and, for the majority of the audience, their first time experiencing live music in far too long. Their appreciation was very evident and it must be hoped that the town will soon be resonating to many more performances.
The Deep Roots Festival has been carefully planned and re-planned over more than two years; that this season’s events have been put on so successfully is a great tribute to the organisers who have worked tirelessly to make things happen, whether online or in-person. The tea that followed the performance was also a triumph, thanks to the church committee and their liaison with the festival’s team. Congratulations to Giocoso and to all that made the afternoon possible.