Well, Imperial unquestionably has no shortage of orchestras, bands or music groups. However, there’s a new orchestra which has been growing in the past few months: Kohncertino. Led by first-year maths student Michael Kohn, Kohncertino held its debut concert on Saturday 16th March, at St Gabriel’s Church, Warwick Square in Pimlico.
To begin the concert - a musical journey around Europe (before we leave) - Kohncertino performed the ‘Hebrides’ Overture’ by Felix Mendelssohn. Commencing Mendelssohn’s work about Fingal’s Cave with a polyphonic, wholesome contribution from the violas, cellos and bassoons, a refined sense of the bucolic and wondrous nature of the setting by which this work was inspired was instantly created. Conversely, the entire orchestra came into play to create an equally potent sense of the choppy waters and formidable nature of the seas surrounding the Hebrides; the dynamic transition from peaceful melody to fortissimo, forceful waves was particularly well executed.
Following this, time for violin soloist Silke Nodwell to take centre-stage, as the orchestra diminished in size for Mozart’s ‘Violin Concerto No. 5 (The Turkish)’. Once again the orchestra’s performance, this time with Silke on the violin, resonated with clear passion and deep understanding of each of the three movements. Then were the moments when Silke played solo. Engaged with the music and clearly very independent, Silke not only ensured that justice was done to the vast array of moods and feelings that this concerto encompasses, but also that a personal touch of true passion was injected into the performance.
Drawing the evening (as well as the musical journey around Europe) to a conclusion was Mendelssohn’s ‘Symphony No. 4’ (Italian). Starting with vigour and gusto, Kohncertino fully captured the joyful, lively mood of the first movement. Then, the more sombre air of the second and third movements was replicated to considerable effect. Finally, to conclude the entire evening, the final movement (presto) was performed. For the last time, Michael and the entire orchestra invested their fullest gusto and energy into depicting a sense of overwhelming excitement. The final flourish: the crescendo to the end. One final burst of energy testament to the evening’s success.
Behind the orchestra’s formidable work is the conductor and director himself, Michael Kohn. Being his debut as a conductor; as with anyone’s debut in anything, one could forgive Michael for feelings of nervousness. However, from the moment of entry, Michael exuded a full aura of confidence and control. This followed through into the concert; any member of the audience could sense Michael’s clear command over the music. Unfailingly attentive and genuinely engaged with the music, one could see Michael constantly attending to the orchestra, be it the entire group or just a single section; and who could miss the true, infectious passion he had for the music of the night, which passed onto the orchestra?
Having seen Kohncertino’s first concert, Kohncertino seems to be a young yet vibrant force in the London classical music scene. Before long, Kohncertino has the potential to be something much bigger. And certainly worth going to the next concert.