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Tower Festival 2009


Classical Extravaganza
With the
British Philharmonic Orchestra
and soloists


Nigel Hutchison and Deborah Norman



Tower of London


September 18, 2009









A review by Marion Drew for EXTRA! EXTRA!


Billed as a gala evening of popular classics, the programme for this performance certainly delivered just that. With music from Copland to Tchaikovsky, and Rossini to Gershwin, the choice was balanced and thoughtful and entirely appropriate in the context of both the festival and the venue. Not only did it greatly please the audience, but it also gave the very experienced British Philharmonic Orchestra, a platform on which to display their talents. I particularly enjoyed Rossini’s William Tell Overture which was played with an infectious energy that brought many a smile to the faces around me. Johan Strauss Jr’s Blue Danube Waltz was so lilting and uplifting that it seemed that the orchestra might sweep us all up with it and swirl out into the deepening London night and on down our own river to the sea.

The two soloists of the evening added notes of interest and great enjoyment. Pianist Nigel Hutchison delivered a crisp and controlled performance particularly in Walton’s Crown Imperial and Handel’s Water Music. Opera singer and soprano Deborah Norman (a graduate of the Colchester Institute and no stranger to singing with orchestras at festivals) stood in for an indisposed Natasha Marsh, and she did herself proud. With her lovely voice and her obvious passion for the music she lit up the stage. So well received was she by the enthusiastic audience, that conductor Anthony Gabriele invited her to sing an encore, the beautiful O mio babbino caro.

The BPO has played at many premier London venues including the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Wembley Arena, and is no stranger to outdoor concerts, but this performance in the grounds of the 900 year old Tower of London with its imposing stone walls saturated with London history, must surely rank as one of the most evocative. There can be fewer inducements to contentment than sitting in such a place on an early autumn evening just tinged with a seasonal chill, being taken excellent care of by generous and expansive host sponsors and listening to music of such beauty.

I would not have been at all surprised to look up and see the illustrious ghosts of kings and queens, high ranking clergymen and scoundrels who had seen the inside of the tower in less happier times risen from their graves, sitting on the turrets listening with us in pleasure and delight. As the evening drew to a close, the highlight for me was the last work on the programme, Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien. Beautifully paced and crystal clear, it rounded off an evening which ably showcased the work of some of the finest composers in this Western orchestral music tradition.




The Tower of London, EC3N 4AB
11th to 20th September 2009
Tickets on sale to person callers at:
Group Ticket Office
Tower of London
Tower Hill
London EC3N 4AB

10.00am - 4.00pm daily

Branches of HMV as follows
London - 150 Oxford St, 360 Oxford St, Trocadero, Covent Garden, Hammersmith, Islington, Westfield Shopping Centre, Bluewater Shopping Centre, Croydon
Birmingham - High St
Edinburgh - Princes St
Aberdeen - Union St

Tickets available by credit card from the following agents:
Ticketmaster 0844 847 2519
See Tickets 0871 230 1080
Ticketline 0844 8889991
Keith Prowse (Seatem) 0844 2090335

WOMAD 0845 146 1735

For official hospitality packages, please call
AOK Events 020 8222 8420

The festival is an open air event and will go ahead regardless of bad weather.






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