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Review: Happy 90th, Ipswich Regent - Orchestral concert is a smash hit

PUBLISHED: 13:18 02 November 2019 | UPDATED: 20:20 02 November 2019

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed at the Ipswich Regent's 90th birthday concert Picture: RPO

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed at the Ipswich Regent's 90th birthday concert Picture: RPO

Archant

What a fantastic 90th birthday party it was! The crowd at a packed Ipswich Regent cheered, waved flags and sang along during the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's special concert.

Conductor Pete Harrison was bubbling over with enthusiasm, and even conducted the audience - gesturing to show us exactly when we should clap and stamp our feet during a rousing performance of the Radetzky March by Johann Strauss Sr.

The concert ranged from much-loved Proms favourites to music by the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and the Rolling Stones, just a few of the top names in pop and rock who have taken the Regent/Gaumont stage over those 90 years.

The evening got off to a stirring start with Suppé's Light Cavalry Overture - a piece which is instantly recognisable even if the composer's name isn't.

Other selections ranged from Tchaikovsky's Waltz from Swan Lake to Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream: Scherzo and Grieg's soothing Peer Gynt Suite.

Soprano Verity Wingate gave a beautiful performance of Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro, and later in the programme also sang the jewel song from Gounod's Faust - while this is a lovely piece, though, she was a little hard to hear from further back in the auditorium.

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From classical to soul... for me, the Stevie Wonder medley, including a stirring performance of Sir Duke, was one of the real treats of the evening. Mr Harrison spoke with enthusiasm about how Stevie Wonder had performed "on this very stage" back in the 1960s.

There was also a stirring orchestral rendition of the Stones' Satisfaction, and three varied Beatles numbers, Penny Lane, Let It Be and Can't Buy Me Love, which all sounded great transformed into orchestral pieces.

A group of students from West Suffolk College also had the rare honour of having their piece, Gods of Fantasy, performed by the RPO, after the orchestra worked with music degree students there earlier this year. It had the sound of an instant classic. The composers were in the audience and were asked to stand up and take a bow.

And there was some great film music too, John Williams' Flying Theme and Finale from ET.

After the interval, many members of the audience were eagerly clutching flags, ready to join in the Last Night of the Proms style celebrations, including Elgar, Wood and Parry's Jerusalem, sung by Verity Wingate. She also sang Land of Hope and Glory during Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, accompanied by the entire audience!

All in all, it was a great evening... and Mr Harrison promised they would be back for the Regent's 100th birthday in 10 years' time!

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