Part of the King’s Place Mozart Unwrapped series, the Aurora Orchestra delivered a spellbinding performance Thursday night.

© 2011 Aurora Orchestra
© 2011 Aurora Orchestra

Due to Sir Colin Davis’ sudden illness, principal conductor Nicholas Collon stepped in at the last minute to conduct the concert. While it would have been a unique opportunity to see such an esteemed British conductor, Nicholas Collon was an exciting substitution. Recently nominated for the prestigious South Bank Sky Arts/The Times Breakthrough Award, Collon lived up to his reputation throughout the entirety of the programme.

Right from the onset, Collon set the stage for a dynamic and engaging performance. Comparable to the vivacious style of Gustavo Dudamel, Collon’s lively energy radiated from the stage. Leading the orchestra as well as the audience, Collon broke down the traditional barriers between conductor and audience, engaging them in the performance and bringing to light all the facets of Mozart’s genius. Watching Collon, it was easy to see the juxtaposition in Mozart’s music between the quirky and the sublime. With his innovative conducting style, Collon was able to present Mozart both as an exemplary classical composer and as an experimental and energetic young man.

Like Collon, the Aurora Orchestra alongside soloists Fflur Wyn (soprano) and Thomas Gould (violin) commanded attention with their depth of musicality. In the concert aria Vorrei spiegarvi, oh Dio!, K418, Wyn reached the perilous high E with grace, easily transitioning to lower notes and achieving a playful tone throughout the song. In the Violin Concerto No. 5 in A, K219, Thomas Gould’s performance burst with expressivity. Producing a range of sounds, from long, fluid lines to short staccatos, Gould performed with utmost sophistication. Finally, the Aurora Orchestra dazzled the audience with the Linz Symphony, No. 36 in C, K425, performing with a controlled frenetic energy and a high level of virtuosity. Exemplified within the Turkish section of the piece, the orchestra and conductor achieved an extraordinary feat: the audience could see Mozart’s musical phrasing in their performance. Playing and moving together, the Aurora Orchestra performed with an energy and physicality unique to the concert stage.

Enthralling both to watch and hear, the Aurora Orchestra launched Mozart Unwrapped with a truly captivating performance.