Royston Nash hangs up baton after 27 years

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     Roylston Nash conducted his last two concerts as music director and conductor of the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra thisweekend but will return as a guest conductor next season.

Roylston Nash's Grand Finale 

 Special to CCToday by Solon Economou

r.nashstanding_360_01Royston Nash, music director and conductor of the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, capped his 27-year affiliation with the orchestra on Saturday and Sunday, May 5 and 6, with farewell performances with the CCSO at the Barnstable Performing Arts Center.

Nash began the concert with the overture to Otto Nicolai's opera, The Merry Wives of Windsor.  Nicolai is a rather obscure composer, probably with good reason.  The piece was, like most operatic overtures, filled with zesty segments and, like many concert openers, designed to warm up the audience as well as the orchestra. 

The rest of the evening was rather dazzling as Nash continued with Ferde Grofe's ever popular Grand Canyon Suite.  There was a little weakness at the beginning of Sunrise, but the orchestra quickly overcame it and performed splendidly through Painted Desert

Then came Grofe's piece de resistance of this suite, On the Trail.  Even those who are unfamiliar with Grofe have been humming this melody most of their lives, if not singing the song of the same name based on it.  There were a couple of weak violin notes, but the string section in general performed admirably, and the woodwind and percussion sections were superb, as they were for the entire concert.  In the dazzling finale to this piece, the brass section played...brassy...as Grofe had intended.    It was, as usual, the high point of Grofe's suite.

The orchestra finished off well with a peaceful Sunset and a threatening Cloudburst that may have had some of the audience looking for their umbrellas.

miriamfried_144After the intermission, magic happened.  Violin soloist Miriam Fried (on left) stepped on stage for Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major.  Ms Fried is internationally recognized as one of the world's finest violinists and was a protege of Isaac Stern.  In her hands she held a 1718 Stradivarius--a violin older than this nation.  It had been also owned by Regina Strinasacchi who, it is believed, used the Strad to play with Mozart.  This was the first time that many in the audience had ever seen a Strad and were eager to hear the tones from such an instrument.

Ms Fried's rendition of the first movement, the Allegro moderato, was stunning.  Melodic, sweet, and superb would not adequately define it.  There is a reason this Tchaikovsky concerto is such a favorite, and Ms Fried demonstrated why.  The second movement, the Canzonetta, was, much like Tchaikovsky, melancholy and soulful, and Ms Fried finished beautifully with the finale, the Allegro vivacissimo, to several standing ovations.

The magic that she brought, besides her brilliant playing, was that the orchestra performed flawlessly during the concerto.  Ms Fried appeared to be the tide that lifted all boats. It was a fitting conclusion to Royston Nash's career.

After the performance Saturday night, Royston Nash was honored by the musicians in the orchestra, who dedicated the Royston Nash Music Library and established a fund with which to buy music for the orchestra's performances.  Then the CCSO Board of Trustees presented Nash with the the title, in perpetuity, of Music Director Laureate of the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra.

A wonderful ending to a wonderful career.  Lest Nash's fans think he's riding permanently off into the sunset, he'll be back on the trail as guest conductor next season.

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