Sofya Gulyak and Dalia Stasevska with Opera North Orchestra @ Leeds Town Hall, 7/4/18

On the 7th of April, both Sofia Gulyak and Dalia Stasevska took to the stage alongside the orchestra of Opera North to perform four unique and modern pieces full of fantastic and interesting orchestrations. The repertoire for the concert was filled with passion to the last. Unfortunately, seeing both a female soloist and conductor on the stage is still an all too rare occurrence in classical music; however all the musicians performed a fantastic set of unique music, showing their brilliant talent throughout the concert.

The beginning of the concert kicked off to a flying start with Bernstein’s ‘Symphonic Dances’, showing off an array of extended techniques from finger clicking to whistles. These pieces showed many different colours, from its fiery beginning to gentle and sweet moments from the sectional string leaders’ solos. The second part introduced the soloist of the night Sofia Gulyak, who performed Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’. With several jazz moments from the soloist and other players, to an unusual quartet between the first desks of the first violinists, this piece provided a brilliant finish to the first half.

Sofya Gulyak

The third piece, John Adams’ ‘Chairman Dances’, kicked off the second half of the concert and proved to be a powerful performance. Despite its complex orchestration, both conductor and orchestra performed this brilliantly. The final piece from Rachmaninov’s ‘Symphonic Dances’ was divided into three sections, from the passionate first movement, to its gentle third movement, ending with a fantastic finale, giving an impressive finish to the concert.

Overall, the performance was truly one of a kind. The variety of extended techniques and unusual percussion made the concert a brilliant experience. These unique compositions were performed by an incredibly talented leader and soloist. Not only did the pieces chosen represent the talent of the orchestra, but gave the opportunity for solos throughout the concert. With smiles all round from the conductor and her players, it was clear that it was just as much of an enjoyable performance to play as it was for the audience to watch and listen to.

Becky Abel

Images: Justin Slee. Featured image shows Dalia Stasevska

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