SETTLE Orchestra was in fine form for its spring concerts in Christ Church Skipton, and in Settle Parish Church.

This highly talented young Colombian conductor and post-graduate student at the Royal Northern College of Music, Maria Camila Barbosa –“Maca” – guided the orchestra through a challenging and varied programme, a challenge to which the players rose magnificently.

The opening work was Weber’s overture, Der Freischutz and from the opening bars the audience was captivated. It was clear that Maca paid great attention to detail, meaning that each section could understand the dynamic and rhythmic contrasts in the work, resulting in an excellent performance.

It is always good to hear Bob Buller, the orchestra’s principal cello, playing a concerto and for this programme he chose the Elgar cello concerto, a work of considerable complexity.

Bob played with technical assuredness and with some beautifully phrased gentle passages and deft runs. This work makes large demands on an amateur orchestra, not only through the need watch the conductor but also to listen to the soloist, especially when the tempo is altered, usually indicated in Elgar’s score, in order to make an expressive point. Again Maca’s talent shone and not only did she keep the players with the soloist but the dynamic range was just right for the work.

After the interval we were treated to a lyrical work, Pequeña Suite (Little suite) by Colombian composer, Adolfo Mejia. This was music that sparkled with freshness and complex rhythms. Special mention here must go to flautist Judith Sumnall and oboist Meg Crossley for very beautiful playing in the second movement.

Finally to Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite, a work of contrasts and story-telling which, even at the end of this demanding programme, the orchestra played with great aplomb, really speaking to the audience through the sounds.

The orchestra is more than fortunate to have Anne Heaton as its leader, as we saw in this concert, which was one of the best Settle orchestra concerts I have ever been to.

Many congratulations to Anne and to all the players in every section. There were few shaky moments, none distracting from the generally high standard. The strings sounded assured with a warm tone and wide dynamic range, the woodwind balance and tone were better than ever, the brass sections were sensitive and never over played, the timpani playing was lively and dynamically varied throughout and the percussion added extra colour.

But the greatest accolade for this programme must go to Maca. She has complete command of the scores, she understands what the music is about, having total involvement in each work, and she conveys all this to orchestra and audience alike.

Of particular note were some exquisite quiet passages where the sound was down to a whisper, and Maca’s awareness of the importance of silences, bringing a rare magic to the music.

This was a wonderfully enjoyable and uplifting concert and we can now look forward to the orchestra’s summer concerts (June 22 and 29), with more musical treats in store.