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concerto for group and orchestra
henley-upon-thames, july 7th 2006

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Images © Bryan Greene

"Billed as "The Rock Orchestra’ featuring an “all-star rock band”. Jon Lord: keyboards / Philip Niessen: lead guitar / Urs Fuchs: bass guitar / Wolf Simon: drums / Mario Argandona: Percussion Mascha Elstner: vocals. Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Mark Forkgen: Conductor.

The weather was ideal for an outdoor evening concert on a floating stage. Most of the audience adhered to the dress code and were wearing tuxedos/evening dress, but a lot of Deep Purple fans could be easily identified in suit or jacket & tie instead, which was also acceptable.

In his introduction of "The Rock Orchestra", the festival's artistic director Stewart Collins cued a snippet of “Smoke on the Water” to let the audience hear some Jon Lord/DP music that most of them would be familiar with, particularly those of a certain age! Jon introduced “One From The Meadow” as a warm-up piece for the Concerto and informed the audience that the song was written about the Henley area in which he and the lyricist Sam Brown live.

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra did a decent enough job, but they seemed to lack the power that the LSO, RPO, etc gave to the pieces, possibly because they were lighter in numbers or maybe because Jon wanted to give the Concerto a gentler slant to suit the Henley Festival occasion. The “all-star rock band” performed well enough, but they did not try to repeat the original solos note for note, not that most of the audience would have known the difference. However, I think it would be fair to say that they won’t be posing a threat to the talents of Blackmore, Paice, Glover, Gillan or Morse.

Later in the evening, I visited the Festival Shop tent and noticed that there appeared to be a lot of interest in the Jon Lord and Concerto CDs on sale. My guess is Mr Lord gained some new fans at the Henley Festival."  Bryan Greene