Family fun aplenty with Ensemble 360 and a very Giddy Goat in Leamington

Ensemble 360
Ensemble 360

Clive Peacock reviews Ensemble 360's double-bill at the Spa Centre, Leamington

“Singing is good for you,” agree the many young voices at the Spa Centre, as Giddy Goat became an instant hit. A couple of hundred young people with grandparents and parents were invigorated by an excellent Esther Sheridan as she guided them through the exploits of the mountain goat. Giddy Goat needed lots of audience encouragement, having run away from home to befriend the sheep from the lower pastures before braving the climb up the needle mountain.

Ensemble 360’s annual family concert is now a very international affair. Phil and Faith from Uganda brought six children – three of their own with three friends, and Sarah from Strasbourg brought Olivia and Alice. Closer to home, families from Napton and Tamworth described the morning as fabulous and fantastic. No matter what age, no one remained immune to the sterling efforts of Sheridan and Ensemble 360’s excellent team, as Giddy Goat sought the friendship of the lost lamb, Edmund, in his determination to climb the mountain. Fabulous storytelling accompanied by world class musicianship fulfilling the first part of the double bill.

Highlights of the second part of the bill were Adrian Wilson’s superb playing in Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F; some excellent flute playing by Alena Walentin in Beethoven’s Variations on Mozart’s magnificent duet between Don Giovanni and Zerlina, ‘Là ci darem la mano’, and Tim Horton’s perfect prelude to Schubert’s Octet as he played the composer’s Impromptu in G.

Many in the audience had travelled long distances to hear the Schubert Octet.

Naomi Atherton’s deliberate opening long-held notes set the tone for a sparkling 360 performance. Benjamin Nabarro continues to impress as leader; the singing clarinet of Peter Sparks was a sheer joy; and, in the absence of Gemma Rosefield, Bjorg Lewis gave a distinguished cello performance, and Jamie Manson on double bass was his usual effusive self.

* The concert took place on February 10. Visit leamingtonmusic.org for details of future concerts.