This is an edited version of the Havant Orchestras newsletter which is provided in
printed form (or e-mailed in PDF format, if requested)
to players and Friends of the Orchestras.
The Havant Orchestras
President: The Rt Hon. the Lord Willetts
Patrons: The Mayor of Havant; The Mayor of Fareham
March 2017 Newsletter
From the Chairman …
This is a very busy time of year for those of us involved in both
orchestras! On 11th March we had our HCO strings concert in the new
Emsworth Baptist Church, which was very well received. Players and
audience appreciated the acoustics, which are clear and helpful but not
overpoweringly resonant, and the smaller venue meant that the audience were
closer to the performance and felt more surrounded by the sound.
We have already had several requests to hold further similar concerts in the
same venue, possibly involving the full Havant Chamber Orchestra.
However, the limited seating capacity of the church (especially taking into
account the space needed for players) means that even if we had a full house it
would be nearly impossible to break even. Also, the lack of raked seating
or raised staging made it difficult for many of the audience to see the
players, which means that we feel we could not charge significantly more for
tickets. We will consider various options and we may well decide we can
afford to continue with at least a further string concert in the same
Several Havant Chamber Orchestra players are also involved in events for the
new Havant Music Festival, especially in the Havant Baroque ensemble, led by
Cathy Mathews, which is performing at St. James’ Church in Emsworth on
9th April. See the back page for more Havant Music Festival events.
In the mean time, Havant Symphony Orchestra have a concert with an unusually
wide selection of different items, varying from a tuba concerto to
Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ symphony. This is definitely a
good time to bring along new audience members to enjoy the experience of live
Tel: 023 8026 1372
Saturday 25th March’s Programme
at Oaklands School, Waterlooville
||Pre-concert talk in the main hall by Tom Griffin
||Take your seats in the main hall
conducted by Jonathan Butcher
and Tom Griffin*.
|Overture Ruy Blas ||Mendelssohn|
|In the Steppes of Central Asia ||Borodin|
Soloist: Tom Torley
| Interval – 20 minutes|
|*Symphony No 8, Unfinished ||Schubert|
|Symphonic Variations, Op 78 ||Dvořák|
||End of Concert
|We wish you a safe journey home.
Pre-concert talk at 6.30pm in the main hall
The pre-concert talk will be given by our bursary award conductor Tom
We recommend taking seats at or near the front so that you can easily hear
the speaker and musical excerpts. If you miss the start, please feel free
to enter quietly.
Notes from the conductor… 1
Hello all – I do hope you have got your tickets for the next HSO
concert on the 25th March – because I think it is going to be
a good one and programme I would certainly want to hear, if I wasn’t
actually conducting it myself.
Our concert begins with Mendelssohn’s fabulous overture Ruy
Blas, based on the play by Victor Hugo and, incidentally, a play which
Mendelssohn disliked at his initial reading. But he was asked to write a
concert overture for the play and came up with the popular work we know
today. There isn't space to go into the entire play’s plot here but
basically Ruy Blas falls in love with the Queen and
‘complications’ ensue – of course! All will be revealed
in the concert’s programme notes, I’m sure. Anyway –
It’s set in Madrid, which adds to the colour and the drama of the
piece. I always enjoy conducting Ruy Blas and have done in all
sorts of different venues, including in St John’s Cathedral in
Malta. To a packed audience I might add! The day after the concert
I was in a local bank in Malta and someone came up to me and said how much they
had enjoyed the concert. The price of fame eh?
By a strange coincidence the second item on the Malta programme was In the
Steppes of Central Asia, which is also our second item on the
25th March. They just seem to fit I guess! It’s
typically Borodin with great melodies, which are embroidered with grace notes,
particularly the main one, which features the cor anglais. The addition
of the grace notes means that it’s almost impossible to hurry this
charming tune. A famous compositional trick is to introduce a theme, then
another and later on in the work put the two together. It’s an old
trick but it works particularly well in this delightful miniature. It
also has a rather catchy ‘walking bass’. The work’s
first performance was conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov – Borodin’s
friend and another member of that esteemed group of Russian composers known as
‘The Mighty Handful’.
The concerto is one for tuba and before you start giggling – perhaps
you’re not – it’s a real concerto and a terrific piece.
Tubas have got short changed, where concertos are concerned, but
Gregson’s Concerto certainly makes up for lost time and uses the tuba to
full effect. There’s no doubt that Gregson is a skilled
composer and that he really knows his craft. The tunes are toe tapping
and there’s even a cadenza! Pretty rare for a tuba. I
haven’t conducted the piece in Malta, ’though I am sure the Maltese
would love it, but I have performed it several times, most notably at Snape
Maltings in Suffolk, with a splendid young lad from the Wells specialist music
school as soloist. Sadly I have forgotten his name. He’s
probably married with four children now?
The concert finishes with, what I consider to be, not only one of
Dvořák’s most brilliant works but also the best set of
orchestral variations ever composed – well certainly to date.
Dvořák’s invention and unique ideas are simply mind
blowing. Sorry – not an expression I like but in this case
it’s really most apt. His ideas just keep coming and the variations
link so imperceptibly that the listener is just carried along with the
wonderful flow of the piece. Dvořák’s modulations are
also extraordinary and lead us to some interesting tonal areas and subtle
textures. In places what he gives us is very simple but in others the
complexity of his invention is thrilling. Listen out for the ‘love
duet’ between the horn and the flute. Also the violin solo
variation and the magnificent Finale with its speedy fugue.
I hope you enjoy your evening with us and do please bring a crowd.
Notes from the conductor… 2
Franz Schubert is one of my favourite composers and to have the chance to
conduct one of his most well-known works is an absolute delight. The two
completed movements that comprise the Unfinished Symphony shows
Schubert’s masterful position in history as a transitional composer
between the Classical and Romantic periods. Both of the movements are written
in sonata form but Schubert doesn’t follow the typical plan; for example
the second movement is in sonatina form as it lacks a development section.
Whilst Schubert was writing the work he was reportedly suffering with syphilis
which he contracted after a lifetime of public house cavorting and the remedy
of the time was to drink mercury, so he was simultaneously poisoning himself.
His agony can be realised within the work as there is striking contrast between
the sublime and the thickly-scored fretful sections, especially in the second
movement. Schubert idolised the emotional intensity of Ludwig van
Beethoven’s work and reciprocated similar ideas within his own
compositions. This can be heard within the Unfinished Symphony which is part of
the reason why it has stood the test of time, even in its incomplete form.
I am very much looking forward to performing such a popular work in the
orchestral repertoire and I know the musicians are too.
CD recommendations for the works in this concert
Sourced by Gordon Egerton (Clarinet)
Mendelssohn - Overture 'Ruy Blas'
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Edward Gardner
(c/w Symphonies nos. 1 & 3 'Scottish').
Chandos CHSA 5139 £12.75
Borodin - In the Steppes of Central Asia
Kirov Orchestra, Valery Gergiev
(c/w Rimsky-Korsakov 'Scheherazade' & Balakirev 'Islamey')
Philips 4708402 £11.75
Gregson - Tuba Concerto
James Gourlay, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Gavin Sutherland
(c/w tuba concertos by Golland, Steptoe, & Vaughan Williams)
Naxos 8557754 £6.25
Schubert - 'Unfinished' Symphony
London Classical Players,
Sir Roger Norrington
(c/w Symphonies nos. 4, 5, & 6 & 'Rosamunde' overture)
Erato 5622272 £8.50 (2 discs)
Dvořák - Symphonic Variations
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,
(c/w Symphony no. 9 'New World')
Naxos 8570714 £6.25.
(Prices quoted are from the Presto Classical website).
Putting the record straight
It was flattering to read Mike Allen’s review of the Symphony
Orchestra’s December concert and to be complimented on leading the horn
section “with panache”.
However, I feel that I must correct the implication in his piece that I have
recently stepped up to first horn.
In reality, I have played with the HSO and HCO for 31 years and filled the
first seat in HSO for more than 25! And I hope to be there for a few more
It is possible that some confusion may have arisen with my new name in the
programme. For those horn buffs among you, when I married Roy Holton last
July, it wasn’t just for his surname!
by local orchestras
Thursday 23rd March, 7.30pm
Petersfield Festival Hall
Schubert, R.Strauss, Delibes, Delius, Mendelssohn
Saturday 29th April 2017, 7.30pm
City of Southampton Orchestra
Brahms, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky
Other musical events
compiled by Geoff Porter
Classical music events included in the first Havant Music
Thursday 30th March, 7.30pm
St. Joseph's Church, Havant
University of Chichester Chamber Orchestra and Choir
Purcell, Vivaldi, Abel & Handel
Tickets £10 (£2 students).
Sunday 2nd April, 3.00pm
St. Faith's Church, Havant
The Brent Quartet
Haydn: The Seven Last Words of Christ
Tickets £5 (£2 under 18)
Saturday 8th April, 7.30pm
The Spring Arts Centre, Havant
Felix Kellaway - classical guitarist
Tickets £12.50 (£11.25 concs)
Sunday 9th April, 7.30pm
St. James Church, Emsworth
Havant Baroque - concertos and more by Bach, Telemann & Handel
Tickets £8 (£2 under 18).
Society contact information
Havant and District Orchestral Society
Registered Charity No 288747
Tel: 023 8026 1372
Contact information can be found on the Contacts
page within this web site.