A capacity audience at Christ Church Cathedral had a glorious treat at a Gala Concert as part of the John Roberts Weekend. Opening the event was a rare treat with the Royal Irish Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra, under the able baton of Fergus O’Carroll. His choice of an Albinoni concerto for two oboes and strings showed the audience that Albonini was more than a one hit Adagio wonder. In fact it is now believed he didn’t write that Adagio at all. The oboe soloists, Aoife McCambridge and Peter Brown, shone in the plaintive and high solo passages while the orchestra created a lively busy sound.

The second piece, a Bartok, Divertimento for Strings, had a uneasy mix of atonality of eerie noises that were at times urgent, menacing and disquieting. Then, the mood changed into lyrical folk dance where, at one point, I thought the group were sawing against the grain and then slipping into a joyous hoedown.

The young orchestra coped well with the varying demands.

In the second half, the Morriston Rugby Choir, delighted with sonorous male voices and an entertaining popular programme of Elvis, Abba, a clappy spiritual, I’m Gonna Walk and a beautiful Morte Christe.

Then an excellent crystalclear women’s octet, Rhocesi, under the guidance of ace arranger, Stephen Pilkington. Their programme was sadly too short with O Wales, The Rose, some Welsh songs and a splendid Something’s Inside So Strong.

A rousing finale of the elsh National Anthem was performed by the Morriston and Rhocesi singers and the applause was long and echoing.

The concert was sponsored by Port of Waterford Company and co-produced by Artswave, SCOW and John Roberts Weekend. At the event I had the great pleasure of renewing acquaintance with the legendary Artswave organiser, Myles Pepper.