REVIEW: A Night in Vienna with the Ulster Orchestra

The Millennium Forum welcomed the New Year in style with The Ulster Orchestra returning to the city with A Night in Vienna.

The packed and appreciative audience were treated to Vienna’s racy operettas, sung by the highly-acclaimed soprano Alish Tynan.

Tynan won the 2003 Rosenblatt Recital Song Prize at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and has a raft of impressive operatic roles under her belt, including roles with the Royal Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera and Royal Swedish Opera.

A passionate recitalist, Alish has given recitals at venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall Edinburgh, City of London Gregynog, St Magnus, Brighton and West Cork music festivals, and now Derry’s Millennium Forum. 

Her performance was truly outstanding as her delivery of the foreign language recitals were turned into a visual art form, telling the story through voice and movement. It was a sheer joy to behold.

Overall it was an evening that captured the imagination, with the musical background of Strauss, racy operettas, polkas that fizzed like champagne and dreamy endless seductive waltzes. The event was hosted by Claire Mc Collun of Downtown Radio and UTV fame, who introduced the audience to the finer points of the music and set the scene for all the pieces played from the Thunder and Lightning Polka to The Emperor Waltz.

Although I do have to say that no great in depth knowledge is needed to enjoy the Ulster Orchestra at its best. Even if you couldn’t name Die Fledermaus Overture or the Tritsch Tratsch Polka, you could still enjoy what will be both familiar and uplifting and you can’t help but be swept away with the music.

The audience were enthralled, not only had we the music, we had the sceptical of the Ulster Orchestra itself regaled in their evening dress ready for an evening waltz. To sit and observe these wonderful musicians as they produce a feast for the ears is quite magical. But I don’t think any words could truly convey what a delight to the senses, this truly is. The only way to sample this feast is to treat yourself and go and see the Ulster Orchestra live. 

The Conductor Sergio Alapont, the magician with the magic wand, was celebrating his first time on the Millennium stage and also his birthday. Spanish born, Sergio is certainly passionate and inspirational. In 2016 he won Best ConductorAward at the GBOSCAR (excellence in Opera and dance) ceremony for his conducting of Aida at the Teatro Comunale di Sassari.

He divides his conducting between symphonic and operatic repertoire, and has guest conducted with orchestras including Orquestra Simfònica Barcelonaa, Copenhagen Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National. His recent opera house highlights include The Merry Widow at the Fondazione Arena Di Verona, and a new production of Cavalleria Rusticana at the Illica Festival. Sergio has also conducted at the prestigious festivals including Shanghai Opera week and Euro Arts Leipzig.

Sergio was enchanting to watch, with a mass of dark curly hair that seemed to dance along with the rhythm of the orchestra, which he energetically conducted, while also conducting the audience in clapping to well-known tunes.

So if you have never been to see the Ulster Orchestra live, go and sample the real deal. This music was written to be performed and enjoyed, and the Ulster Orchestra and Soprano Alish Tynon certainly delivered.

They are back performing in the city in April and May this year, and I for one will be in the audience.

Millennium Forum, 5th January 2020

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