Oh I’m breaking rules again today. You know I am and I know I am but I don’t care because today I shall write about the new Stockwell Park Orchestra book because it made me laugh so much last week and I don’t care that it’s the fourth in the series…
We rejoin the lovable scamps from everyone’s favourite community orchestra soon after the viral excitement of their European tour. And more excitement is heading their way: firstly a poet wants to be artist in residence with them, then they’re approached to take part in a TV talent competition for classical music groups. And so we’re off on another adventure. Your favourite side characters are here – think terrible singers and handsome horn players – along with some newcomers. The running jokes are glorious. I love the group dynamic that they have and the sarcastic and slightly sly humour. And as a bonus you get the orchestra sight reading their way through Ruslan and Ludmilla overture (aka the theme from Cabin Pressure) and imagine their horror/come out in a cold sweat if you’ve ever had to play a piece with lots of runs and scales at speed on an instrument. I for one still have nightmares about the wind band arrangements of the Theme from Big Country (the clarinets get all the twiddly bits that the violins get at the start and then none of the delightful tune) and the Candide Overture (clarients get twiddly bits galore and endless shifts in rhythm and tempo to boot) and neither of those are anything like as bad as Ruslan and Ludmilla – although equally delightful when it’s going well!
As you can tell, I am a wind band veteran (photographic evidence here), so it makes it hard for me to predict how it will land for people who didn’t play instruments – and who never had to mime their way through difficult sections so they didn’t get picked on by the conductor but Isabel Rogers has created such an engaging group of characters that I think it will work for non musicians. And if you have a healthy scepticism about talent competitions then so much the better. I ate it up with a spoon and then went off to relisten to some Cabin Pressure because I had the theme stuck in my head (the Ottery St Mary episode if you’re interested) which only increased the joy. I can’t wait for the next one.