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Shetland Community Orchestra plays Gershwin

by Deborah Leggate -

Following a successful launch last October, Shetland's very own Community Orchestra will be giving its second public concert on the evening of Saturday 10 March, at St Columba's Church, Lerwick. Membership of the Orchestra has increased considerably under local conductors Nigel Hayward and Neil Morris, and a veritable smorgasbord of musical treats will be on offer.

A highlight for many will be the first performance in Shetland of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, featuring Harris Playfair on piano. Orchestra secretary, Carolyn Johnston, said: “Harris Playfair is well-known to Shetland audiences and we are delighted to be able to bring him up this year as a result of funding from Scotland's Islands and Shetland Arts. Harris slips easily between genres and embodies what this Orchestra is all about – musicians from classical, jazz and traditional music backgrounds coming together to play great music.”

The Rhapsody was first performed in 1924, the result of a suggestion by band leader, Paul Whiteman, that Gershwin should write a piano concerto in jazz style. It has remained a firm favourite with the public and became inextricably linked with New York after it featured in the opening sequence of Woody Allen's film Manhattan. In the concert the Rhapsody will be preceded by a selection of songs from the era performed by Deirdre Hayward's group, Veev, and Prokofiev's Montagues and Capulets (known to many as the theme from The Apprentice).

The Orchestra's programme was selected from suggestions put forward by members and will begin with one of the most famous passages in western classical music – the dit-dit-dit-dah motif from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. At 30 minutes long, the Symphony formed just a small part of a four-hour programme of music at its premiere in 1808 in an unheated hall in the heart of winter. Not surprisingly it left the audience cold – both literally and figuratively. In the cosy confines of St Columba's Kirk, with complimentary teas and homebakes to look forward to, this promises to be a much more enjoyable performance.

Bryan Peterson, Shetland Arts" Music Development Officer, said, “The Orchestra and Veev have put together an excellent programme, and Rhapsody In Blue is a personal favourite of mine. Inviting Harris Playfair as guest pianist will make for an extraordinary evening of music.“

The concert starts at 7.30 pm on Saturday 10th March in St Columba's Church in Lerwick and will be followed by teas and homebakes. Tickets, priced at £8 and £5 for concessions, are available from Shetland Box Office at Islesburgh Community Centre on (01595) 745555 or online at

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