Havant Symphony Orchestra at the Ferneham Hall
The Havant Orchestras
Havant Symphony Orchestra was created by Peter Craddock in 1962 as a Further Education class to offer local amateur musicians an opportunity to study, rehearse and perform a wide range of orchestral music. It is now independent of FE and is made up of a mix of professional and gifted amateur players. The leader is Cathy Mathews, a professional violinist with a wealth of experience in orchestral playing, especially with the Bournemouth Orchestras.
Havant Chamber Orchestra was formed, also by Peter Craddock, in 1965 by the amalgamation of several chamber music ensembles. HCO has continued to fulfil a complementary role to HSO ever since. Like the HSO it is made up of a mix of professional and gifted amateur players. Membership is by invitation. The leader is Brian Howells who played for many years with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and now freelances.
Havant Symphony Orchestra at Oaklands School
The main season comprises 6 concerts each year, 3 by each orchestra. Increasing audiences (average 500) necessitated a move to Ferneham Hall in Fareham in 1987, and there is still no venue large enough in Havant Borough. Players and audience are mainly drawn from a 30-mile radius. Additional concerts are held in smaller venues including a regular concert on Hayling Island.
The Orchestras’ reputation as one of the foremost amateur orchestral societies in the country is reflected by the accolades they have received from the National Federation of Music Societies as one of the few ‘Truly Outstanding’ groups in the Southern Region and by the Performing Rights Society from whom they have received three ‘Awards for Excellence in Programming’. Some sample comments on past achievements can be found on the reviews page. The Orchestras are grateful to receive grants and donations to help them in their work.
One of the most important features of the concerts of both orchestras is the wide range of music performed which almost always includes a ‘discovered’ work - either an unknown by a well-known composer, a should-be-known by a little known composer, or even, occasionally, a commissioned work. Each concert features a soloist, whether an international star, a promising newcomer, a talented member of the orchestra or a well-known local professional.
The Bob Harding Bursary for Young Conductors
Bob Harding was the Society’s President from 1982 until 1987. He was an ardent supporter and, shortly before his untimely death, had been discussing with Peter Craddock a proposal to offer young student conductors the opportunity of working with the Symphony Orchestra.
The project was particularly close to Peter’s heart as he believed it would be a unique and wonderful opportunity for students on the threshold of their conducting careers to acquire experience and investigate repertoire as well as offering the Symphony Orchestra’s players the chance to work with new young musicians of great talent.
The Bursary was created initially from gifts donated in Bob’s memory and has, to date, helped more than twenty students in their careers including Paul Murphy (Birmingham Royal Ballet), Rumon Gamba and Jason Lai (former BBC Young Conductors) and Mark Wigglesworth. See the complete list of bursary holders for more details.
The bursary scheme was temporarily suspended for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons as HSO was using guest conductors during the selection process for a new principal conductor following Peter Craddock's retirement. After Jonathan Butcher was appointed as principal conductor for the 2014-2015 season the scheme was resumed with auditions in July 2014.
The bursary conductor for 2015-2016 is Joseph (Joe) Beckhelling, who was nominated by Robin Browning at the University of Southampton.
Players paying a subscription, and Season Ticket holders are members of the Havant and District Orchestral Society (HADOS) which administers the two orchestras. To find out more about joining the HSO as a player, click here.
Friends of the Havant Orchestras enjoy social and musical events. They provide substantial financial support for the Orchestras. For more information see the Friends page. To join contact the Administrator.
Upbeat offers younger audience members talks from performers; chats with players; programme notes; pre-concert talks.
Upbeat, the Havant Orchestras Young Supporters’ Club, is completely free to join. Members can look forward to receiving a membership pack, a free newsletter and special programme notes for every symphony orchestra concert. The newsletters include information about the concert, competitions, and members letters. Members can meet each other, and some of the players in the orchestra, during the interval at every symphony orchestra concert, when we often have competitions and the opportunity to try some of the instruments. We also have a pre-concert talk before these concerts at 6.30pm in the Green Room – all are welcome.
Havant Symphony Orchestra at Oaklands School
Joining the Havant Symphony Orchestra
Admission to Playing Membership of the Symphony Orchestra is by ‘informal audition’ which means a trial period of four weeks playing at rehearsals followed by a consultation with the conductor and the principal of your section to come to a mutual decision. Vacancies are most likely to occur in the string sections. The minimum requirement for entry is Grade 8 of the Associated Board (or the equivalent from other conservatoires) and orchestral playing experience is essential. There may be space, however, from time to time, for young, pre-Grade 8, players, with exceptional playing ability and no orchestral experience, to join the orchestra prior to a college course.
Symphony Orchestra Rehearsals are held on Friday evenings from 7.15pm to 9.45pm (with a coffee break) at St. Faith’s Church Hall, The Pallant, Havant. See the current rehearsal schedule for more details of the location and arrangements. Following a successful audition period, playing members will be requested to pay a subscription to Havant and District Orchestral Society to help cover rehearsal costs. Details of the current subscription rates and payment arrangements can be found on the Subscriptions page (in the public part of the Members section).
If you wish to apply to join the Havant Symphony Orchestra please contact the Orchestral Manager Tony Gutteridge.