ONCE again Settle Orchestra put on a fine concert.

The programme of classics attracted a large audience to Settle Parish Church,  probably with more people than at any time since the pandemic. The excellent conductor was Xinjie Yang, a second-year post-graduate student from the Royal Northern College of Music.

The evening began with Mendelssohn’s popular Overture, “The Hebrides” (Fingal’s Cave), played with great verve and style, truly capturing the spirit of the sea and of the highlands.

Apart from some rather lax dotted rhythms, this was a very good performance with a high standard of playing from the orchestra, in particular the woodwind.

It is always a great pleasure to hear the orchestra’s principal cellist Bob Buller in solo performance. His rendering of Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo theme was no exception, with his passionate and sensitive playing giving full reign to the work’s variety of tone and mood.

Xinjie drew from the orchestra a very musical – and accurate - accompaniment, which is not easy when the music demands frequent changes of mood and tempo.

Special mention is due to Judith Sumnall’s flute playing and also some wonderfully rounded sounds from the horns. Mendelssohn’s overture to ‘The Legend of the Fair Melusine’ is a subtle work with a very quiet start. Beginnings like this are always tricky and in this instance there was a slight lack of clarity, but the piece soon steadied and there was some expressive music-making.

Beethoven’s second symphony in D major was the final work in this delightful programme and in it we were treated to some wonderful playing from all sections of the orchestra.

The first movement has towards the end a most dramatic climax and needs a gradual build-up to this thrilling moment, when trumpets and horns proclaim triumphantly.

My only disappointment was that this was not really apparent and whilst it did not detract from the playing and the general music-making, it is something perhaps for the conductor to mull over when contemplating the architecture of classical works.

The slow movement was a little uncertain at the start – another difficult one to bring off – but was then highly expressive.

The third movement really sparkled, thanks to clear and lively conducting, and the finale provided a rousing finish to the evening. We are so fortunate to have this group of skilled musicians in our midst, never failing to give us huge pleasure and enjoyment, and this of course includes above all Anne Heaton, the orchestra leader.

On this occasion I must mention in particular the woodwind section. There are some talented players here and it was specially good to see two young players, Elsa Birch, who played first clarinet in the Tchaikovsky and the Beethoven, and Harris Birch who played first bassoon throughout the programme, showing exceptional playing, with great ease and musicianship of the kind normally heard from more experienced players.

Let’s hope some more young people join the orchestra, which gives them such great opportunities.

Once again congratulations are due to Settle orchestra and conductor Xinjie Yang for performing these challenging works and giving such an enjoyable and stimulating evening’s music-making.