How fortunate we are in the Hitchin area to have so many capable musicians, players and singers to sustain such a wide variety of music making, writes Peter Hewitt, the chief executive of Benslow Music.

The Comet: Local pianist Alicia Chaffey is the soloist with Hitchin Symphony OrchestraLocal pianist Alicia Chaffey is the soloist with Hitchin Symphony Orchestra (Image: Archant)

Saturday night provided a fine example with Hitchin Symphony Orchestra’s concert at the town’s St Mary’s Church, performing to an agreeably full audience including Hitchin and Harpenden MP Peter Lilley and his wife Gail and HSO vice-president Monica McCabe in a characteristically challenging programme, as ever hugely enjoyable for the listeners.

John McCabe’s enchanting Suite: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was aptly chosen to start the concert and to highlight expressive wind playing and warm string sound.

Mr McCabe, who died earlier this year, had long association with HSO as vice president and this was a fitting celebration of his work.

Former Hitchin Girls’ School student Alicia Chaffey, now studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London, then joined the orchestra as a most capable soloist in Beethoven’s 4th piano concerto.

This was poised & polished playing with admirable clarity of fingerwork and variety of tone colour, matched well by the orchestra, despite occasional looseness of ensemble. It was a performance which grew in confidence and made persuasive impact particularly in the second movement and in authoritative cadenzas.

Beethoven’s 4th Symphony after the interval was excitingly delivered, catching the spirit of the music in each of the four movements.

It’s a demanding piece to play and the HSO members rose well to the challenge - careful pacing by conductor Paul Adrian Rooke and expert leading by Janet Hicks contained moments of considerable beauty and exuberance.

Find out more about Hitchin Symphony OrchestraFind out more about Alicia ChaffeyFind out more about Benslow Music