Review: Bedford's own Rebecca Bottone wows the audience for a Super Summer Night with Alina Orchestra

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Another Alina Orchestra concert, another superb venue.

This time, the wonderful Stables Theatre in Wavendon, Milton Keynes, which was specifically chosen for the ‘Summer Nights’ concert, and as part of the season's celebrations of conductor Hilary Davan Wetton’s 80th birthday. It was a perfect venue to get close and intimate with the smaller orchestra selected for this delightful programme.

This was a huge night to celebrate Hilary and everything he has meant to this city. Hilary has been making music in this City for over 50 years, initially as a founder Director at Stantonbury Campus, he went on to create the MK Music Service and was the founding conductor of The MK City Orchestra and MK Chorale. He has conducted many orchestras and choirs across the British Isles and internationally and regularly for Radio Three. His accolades are too many to mention but he is known for building an audience through his program Masterclass on Classic FM and for his inspiring talks on conducting as a metaphor for management. He has received honours from several universities, including our very own Open University and his book, ‘Reflections on Conducting’ was published in 2021.

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The evening was topped and tailed with a double bill of Mozart, Serenade No. in D major, K239 Serenata Notturna’ and Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K385 ‘Haffner’, and of course, you can’t go wrong with Mozart.

Bedford's own - Soprano, Rebecca BottoneBedford's own - Soprano, Rebecca Bottone
Bedford's own - Soprano, Rebecca Bottone

We were also treated to Mendelssohn’s Nocturne & Scherzo from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, op.61. The haunting melody of the nocturne is woven with beautiful strings, evoking a captivating story, and painting a vivid picture. Its romantic notes make you want to melt into its utterly divine beauty. As for the Scherzo, it conjures the imagery of fairies dancing in the woods and the playful braying of a donkey.

Berlioz – Les nuits d’ete, op.7 was performed by Bedford's very own Soprano Rebecca Battone, whose stunning voice gave us a faultless and perfect performance. It was delightful to hear such an accomplished performer. This was an intense and evocative experience for me, a challenging listen and not my usual choice for a relaxing evening. This song cycle, set to the poems of Théophile Gautier, explores themes of love and loss. The essence of the music captures the moods, states of mind and emotional impact and expresses what words often cannot, taking us from the ecstasy of love to the harrowing depths of loss.

Delius – Summer Night on the River, is a piece I was not familiar with, but I was instantly moved by the gentle dynamics and delicate orchestration used to create a nuanced soundscape. The subtle hues briefly appear in the shadows, just enough to catch your perception before vanishing. It's as if the composer takes all the colours of the day and gently dilutes them, creating a palette that breathes softly and evokes a sense of quiet wonder.

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I can’t feel more blessed to have access to live classical music through Alina Orchestra. After just finishing a week of performances as the musical director for a community production myself, I was once again reminded of the positive impact of the arts which are multifaceted and have profound benefits. Self-expression and creativity are encouraged, boosting confidence and developing a sense of identity. It can reduce stress and anxiety, enhance emotional well-being, alleviate symptoms of chronic diseases, foster social connections, and enhance educational outcomes. Additionally, it helps in developing lifelong skills, among a plethora of other benefits.

It is therefore worrying that there has been a dramatic decline in access to all of the arts in recent year, but in particular, music education. Historically, music was crucial in education, but its decline threatens our cultural diversity, including orchestras. Orchestras enrich communities culturally and socially. Without support, they may fade. Supporting orchestras like Alina Orchestra is about enriching the present and securing a vibrant cultural future. It’s up to us to support these concerts by spreading the word, bringing friends, donating, and considering corporate sponsorship.

Why not bring the whole family along to the next family concert on Sunday 2 June, 3.00pm at The Stables Theatre, Milton Keynes. The programme will include Prokofiev’s: Peter and the Wolf and Lyon’s: Game! Football variations for audience and orchestra. For more details of all Alina Orchestra concerts and how to book, visit

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