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Martin Palmer, guest leader, HSO
Martin Palmer, leader of HSO
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Martin Palmer – Leader of Havant Symphony Orchestra

Early in his orchestral career Martin worked regularly with the London Philharmonic and Bournemouth Symphony orchestras.  He was Principal 2nd Violin with the National Symphony Orchestra and worked extensively as a freelance violinist throughout the UK and in Germany. 

Latterly, much of his work has been in the world of theatre, performing for many years as a 1st Violinist with the Orchestra of English National Ballet.  Martin worked regularly in London’s West End and was frequently a guest leader for Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre and UK tour. 

Martin is a founder member of the Sussex String Quartet.  The Quartet has recorded soundtracks for the films, television commercials and for Universal Music Group. 

Martin plays a 1756 violin of Ambroise de Comble.

Martin Palmer joined HSO as guest leader for the July 2023 concert, after Cathy Mathews resigned due to ill health.  Martin has now been appointed leader as from the 2023-24 season.

Brian Howells, leader of HCO
Brian Howells, leader of HCO
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Brian Howells – Leader of Havant Chamber Orchestra

We were devastated to hear of the death from Covid-19 of the leader of Havant Chamber Orchestra, Brian Howells

Brian was in hospital in Poole on life support for 12 days but tragically lost the battle against the virus on Sunday 5th April 2020.  His wife, former principal cello of HCO, Amanda de Jong Cleyndert, was with him at the end and he requested to hear ‘Metamorphosen’ by Strauss in his last hours. 

Appointed Leader of HCO in 1997, Brian had a distinguished career as Principal Second Violin with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and before that the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and New BBC Orchestra in Bristol.  He played with many local professional ensembles including Southern Pro Musica and was also in great demand as a leader of amateur orchestras. 

Brian’s technical skill and musicianship, his passion for music and his sense of humour in rehearsal will be greatly missed by all who have played with HCO over the years. 

The HCO concert in October 2022 was dedicated to HCO’s memories of Brian as a celebration of his huge contribution to the orchestra.  We are looking for a new leader, and we expect to have guest leaders for a while.  In the mean time, here are Brian’s previous biographical notes. 

Brian was born in 1944 and began to play the violin at the age of 12.  Four years later he joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and then studied at the Royal College of Music in London with Leonard Hirsch.

Brian’s professional career began with the New BBC Orchestra in Bristol where he led the Orchestra on many occasions for broadcasts and concerts.  He joined the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in 1969 and two and a half years later moved to the Sinfonietta.  He was appointed principal Second Violin of the Sinfonietta in 1975 and appeared as soloist on many occasions.  He retired from the permanent staff shortly before the Sinfonietta was disbanded in November 1999.  Brian also played with the New London Soloists Ensemble and the London Chamber Players.  He now freelances and is still called on to play with BSO and is a regular member of both Kaleidoscope and Southern Pro Musica.  He was appointed Leader of HCO in October 1997 and plays with HSO when other commitments allow.

Away from the concert schedule, Brian’s interests have been mainly cars and travel – and more music.  However more recently his woodworking projects have taken up an increasing amount of his time.  He reports that he is still carving out the cabriole legs (by hand) for the Tennessee tea-tray table he started about a year ago and the two oak dining room chairs are also unfinished owing to the complicated joinery involved which takes up more thinking time than doing!  In addition, Brian’s latest project is a Regency Davenport desk which involves his first excursion into the realms of veneering – and this is not the easiest of jobs.

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