­Talent: Bermuda Festival Orchestra musicians tune up on the steps of City Hall, led by conductor Ryan Ellis, centre. *Photo supplied
­Talent: Bermuda Festival Orchestra musicians tune up on the steps of City Hall, led by conductor Ryan Ellis, centre. *Photo supplied
Heroes, hunters and heartfelt romance — three key themes that were more than evident at Friday’s performance by the Bermuda Festival Orchestra.

The talented collective of local musicians played works by legends such as Beethoven, Berlioz and Strauss, portraying the passion and poetry in their breathtaking, timeless compositions.

They performed their heroes — and became heroes to their enraptured spectators, proving that Bermuda may be small but she boasts a wealth of talent.

Led by charismatic conductor Ryan Ellis, the orchestra comprises resident musicians who rehearse in the rare spare time away from their day jobs, plus a few guests from overseas.

The programme was selected to celebrate the evolution of the 19th Century orchestra into a larger ensemble with greater dramatic effect.

Taking to the stage at City Hall, the Bermuda Festival Orchestra flaunted their talent from the first note.

Celebration

The ambitious yet captivating pieces included Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture and the March from Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust.

The latter is a celebration of a march of glory on the battlefield and the jubilant tone quickly gave joy to the listeners.

A strong woodwind section deserves acclaim, notably the flautists.

Special praise must be reserved for the three soloists, Kent Hayward, head of music at Warwick Academy; mezzo soprano Kerri-Lynne Dietz and pianist Oliver Grant.

Mr. Hayward tackled Strauss’s ambitious Horn Concerto No. 1, Op. 11 — a rousing soundscape inspired by a hunt that vividly mimics the calls of the chase.

A few of the horn notes did not seem as crisp as they should but overall it was a triumph.

Bermudian Ms Dietz took the stage after returning to the island from London’s Royal Academy of Music and unveiled perhaps the most beautiful instrument of the evening — her incredible voice.

Expressive, captivating and breathtaking, she delighted the audience with Berlioz’s Villanelle, Morgen! Op. 27, No. 4 and Bailéro from Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne.

A tribute to Bermuda’s beauty came in the form of the romantic Where Corals Lie, from Elgar’s Sea Pictures.

Ms Dietz passionately and flawlessly described the allure and romance of the ocean.

The grand finale was reserved for Mr. Grant, performing Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

The ambitious and difficult piece is one of Rachmaninov’s most enduringly popular works and established his fame as a concerto composer.

Mr. Grant more than did it justice.

Engrossed in his music, the pianist shone on stage and transfixed the listener.

Mesmerising

The first section boasted a distinctively Russian melody and series of arpeggios, before climaxing in a rousing wave of sound then gentle, almost eerie peace.

The second movement focused on piano, flute and clarinet, while the third and final created tension and flamboyant drama.

The audience recognized passages used by Hollywood movies and popular songs — the concerto was used in 1945’s Brief Encounter and 1955’s The Seven Year Itch.

It also provided the basis for Eric Carmen’s All By Myself in 1975, later covered by Celine Dion.

Mesmerising both for the compositions and talent on display, Bermuda’s homegrown orchestra was one of the highlights of this year’s Festival of the Performing Arts.