Fretfuls, Moonlights and an American virtuoso at St George’s!

The Fretful Federation had the pleasure and honour of hosting an excellent concert at St George’s Church Kemptown on Sunday 22 October. Playing to an enthusiastic and engaged audience that filled the seats and much of the balcony above, three diverse and entertaining sets combined to build a strong and entertaining programme.

The format was a new venture for FFMO, a winter Sunday afternoon with many visiting players and a guest soloist, and not just any guest soloist; Chris Acquavella a marvellous virtuoso mandolin player, composer and teacher from the USA, topped the bill. It had been a nail-biting time waiting to see if all of the hard work and preparation would pay off. In fact, it proved to be a gratifying success, with a large and enthusiastic crowd that cheered on the programme and the players.

A very useful funding contribution was raised for the beneficiaries of the concert, Belltree Music Therapy CIC, and it was a real pleasure to make so many useful and enjoyable connections, with other musicians, members of our community, and of course, to meet and play with Chris Acquavella was something rather special (see also our earlier report of the workshop with Chris).

The programme kicked off with a delightful set from the Moonlight Mandolin Orchestra, ably led by Hugh Boyde. There followed a set by the Fretful Federation’s own players comprising mandolin virtuoso Detlef Tewes’ first composition, Zauberperlen (Magic Pearls), followed by Leroy Anderson’s whimsical Plink Plank Plunk – always fun to play!

The set culminated in the substantial three-part suite A Shadow of Golden Dream, by David Sutton-Anderson, written 25 years ago for the FFMO and inspired by a combination of the poetry of Herman Hesse and the range of sounds produced by our mandolin orchestra. David himself travelled to be here for this performance and we were delighted that he personally introduced the piece.

Then it was time for Chris Acquavella’s solo set. Chris played several pieces from his new book and CD of etudes crafted to meet the individual needs of his students (see links in Workshop report). Chris’ outstanding playing and backstories to the pieces captivated the audience. His set was a joy to watch and hear!

Chris was then joined by the Fretfuls and all the other guest players for his intepretation of the Vivaldi Mandolin Concerto in C: an absolute treat for us all, and one that will live long in the memory. A very happy audience welcomed a very fitting encore of the lively Neopolitan piece Funiculi–Funicula by Luigi Denza.

A big thank you and congratulations to Fretful’s musical director Lindsay Stoner and the orchestra leaders from St Albans and Cambridge, together with Nicki Lewkow and Jacky Walls, who all did so much work behind the scenes to prepare such a splendid concert for all to enjoy.

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