Trumpeter Alison Balsom pays tribute to Saffron Hall

Alison Balsom

Alison Balsom - Credit: Archant

A wet, grey December afternoon was transformed on Sunday at Saffron Hall thanks to Alison Balsom and the London Chamber Orchestra.

The trumpet virtuoso joined forces with the country’s oldest established chamber orchestra, dispelling the winter gloom with a joyful performance of Baroque music perfect for Advent.

The venue’s famed acoustic came into its own in a full auditorium, as the players wove a richly textured tapestry of sound from pieces composed by the likes of Vivaldi, Albinoni, Corelli, Tartini and JS Bach.

As the lights dimmed, the anticipation of a capacity audience was met with the London Chamber Orchestra’s effervescent opening performance of Corelli’s Concerto Grosso Op.6, No.8 in G minor or Christmas Concerto, a piece which signalled the delights to come.

All eyes were fixed on the stage, awaiting the arrival of Alison Balsom who was welcomed with extended applause. With her blonde hair tied back and wearing a dark trouser suit with four inch heels, her piccolo trumpet glistened under the lights as she immediately set about greeting the audience. Her warmth and vitality filled the stage as she paid tribute to Saffron Hall, regretting its absence during earlier years in her home town of Royston and delighting in the opportunity to play such a special concert at the venue with the London Chamber Orchestra – her first ever professional engagement was with the orchestra as third trumpet performing Handel.

Clearly enjoying themselves and displaying great rapport, the players joined with Alison to present an uplifting and absorbing concert, interspersed with some interesting period details along the way. Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major by her favourite composer, JS Bach was introduced with an entertaining point that trumpet players were considered as ‘aristocracy in the good old days’, the three trumpets within the orchestra regarded as “the Holy Trinity” no less.

Some pieces were transposed for trumpet, most notably Vivaldi’s Concerto for Three Violins in F major, arranged especially for the occasion by arranger Simon Wright in exchange, as Alison admitted, for “a crate of wine”.

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Vibrant, thrilling, fresh and at turns graceful, melancholic and magisterial, this was music made to feel as current today as it was over three hundred years ago. Injecting the day with warmth and light, Alison Balsom and the London Chamber Orchestra delighted an appreciative audience from beginning to end.