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Newsletter for December 2014

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.

We welcome HSO’s new principal conductor Jonathan Butcher and bursary conductor Ignatius Wang, launching our new season at Oaklands School.

From the Chairman …

At last year’s HSO Oaklands School concert (in November) various audience members asked us why we couldn’t perform there more often, as the warm acoustics and larger performance area provided a greatly enhanced musical experience for the symphony orchestra compared with Ferneham Hall (both for the audience and the players), and concerts in Waterlooville would also help to make more classical music available to audiences in our “home patch” of the Havant area.

We are grateful to Oaklands School for making it possible for us to follow up this suggestion and schedule all of our HSO concerts for the new season to be at Oaklands School, and we have made good use of this opportunity by including works in our programmes which exploit the warm acoustics and the additional playing space, including some works which would simply not have been possible in Ferneham Hall because of space limitations.

Later in last season, the HSO strings performed as part of the Waterlooville Music Festival at St. George’s Church and were very encouraged by their enthusiastic reception.  However, although there is clearly keen interest in our music in the Waterlooville area, we understand that the venue is not so convenient for our loyal audience members from the Fareham area, especially those who are not so mobile, or are uncomfortable driving in the dark.  Fortunately, it is easy to get to Oaklands School even on a December evening, and we hope that our especially enjoyable programme for this December concert, full of rich Russian romantic repertoire, will encourage people to make the effort.

We start this season not only with a new principal conductor for HSO, Jonathan Butcher, but also with a new Bob Harding Bursary award conductor, Ignatius (Iggy) Wang from Singapore.  Arrive early to hear Iggy’s pre-concert talk at 6.30pm about his experience as a conducting student and about some of the works in the concert programme.

Our concert programmes are usually designed to incorporate a wide mixture of styles in the hope that everyone will find something to their liking.  For a change, in this case we have chosen to indulge in a whole-hearted feast of favourite Russian romantic music, telling stories of far-away places and times.

Iggy will be conducting the opening work, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances from his unfinished opera “Prince Igor”.  Several of these dances were later adapted for the 1950s musical “Kismet”, based on music by Borodin. Of these, the most famous is the “Gliding Dance of the Maidens” which became the song “Stranger in Paradise”.

The second work in our programme is Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, for which we welcome back pianist Viv McLean in his third concert with the Havant Orchestras.  The theme is taken from Paganini’s Caprice No 24, which also formed the basis for several other composers’ sets of variations, including most recently those of Andrew Lloyd Webber for cello and orchestra, used as the theme tune for “The South Bank Show”, as performed by his brother Julian.  The Rhapsody consists of the Paganini theme together with 24 contrasting variations and includes some of Rachmaninov’s most innovative and imaginative writing for piano and orchestra.

As an amateur pianist myself, I find the whole work fascinating and I would find it hard to pick which variation is my favourite.  However, for many people the most familiar part of this work will be the 18th variation, one of the most beautiful romantic melodies ever written, which has featured in many films varying from “Somewhere in Time” to “Groundhog Day”.

After the interval, we have Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade” suite, conjuring up “a kaleidoscope of fairy-tale images and designs of Oriental character” (as the composer himself describes the work) based on stories from “The Arabian Nights”.  It is not known whether the choice of multiple stories connected with the sea was inspired by Rimsky-Korsakov’s earlier career as a naval officer, but there is no doubt of his skill in portraying the sea through orchestral writing, and the work also makes fine use of a variety of solo passages for different instruments, including the beautiful violin solos representing Scheherazade herself.

We are pleased that our President, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, has kindly accepted our invitation to attend this concert, as has the Mayor of Havant, who is one of our patrons.

This is also an ideal time to introduce new people to the Havant Symphony Orchestra, so please let your friends and colleagues know about our concert at Oaklands School. Our tickets secretary, Stuart Annable, has made tickets available through the TicketSource agency both on the internet (see our website for the link) and by phone on 03336 663366 (for which there is a booking fee of £1.50).  If you have any queries relating to tickets, please email Stuart at or you can phone him on 01489 877497 or send him a text on 07855 972057.

Jonathan Scott
Tel: 023 8026 1372

Saturday 6th December’s Programme

at Oaklands School, Waterlooville

6.30 Pre-concert talk by Ignatius Wang in the main hall
7.00 Pre-concert interlude in the hall
(not confirmed at time of writing)
7.20 Take your seats in the hall
7.30 The Concert
conducted by Jonathan Butcher
and Ignatius Wang*
*Polovtsian Dances from “Prince Igor”Borodin
Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini 
Soloist: Viv McLean
    Interval – 20 minutes
Symphonic Suite “Scheherazade” Rimsky-Korsakov
9.30 approx End of Concert
We wish you a safe journey home.

Pre-concert Talk

6:30pm in the main hall

For this concert, our bursary conductor Ignatius Wang will be talking about his experiences as a conducting student and about some of the works in the concert.


(usually 6:30pm)

Sorry, but we are still without an Upbeat team.  We also still have to work out how and where we can arrange any Upbeat Club activities at Oaklands.

Pre-Concert Interlude

7:00pm in the main hall

We hope to have a performance by local music pupils in the main hall at this time, but so far nothing definite has been arranged.  We may invite Iggy to extend his talk instead!

Notes from the conductor…

Having only conducted just one Havant Symphony Orchestra concert before I feel pleased and privileged to be writing to you now as the Orchestra’s new Principal Conductor.  The HSO has a pretty illustrious pedigree, so I hope I am up for the challenge.  Peter Craddock, the Orchestra’s Founding Father and Musical Director for some fifty years, has created a splendid ensemble / organization and it will be hard to keep things up to the mark in the same way, as times change and different things are expected of people.  But we will do our very best to ensure that high standards are maintained and that all the little extras that make the HSO special are continued and possibly, in some cases, developed.  Peter was, of course, hugely assisted by his wife, Sandra, and numerous Committees and helpers over the years.  They will be a hard act to follow but the new team are highly efficient and committed, so I believe we are in safe hands.  To the future, and to coin a phrase, it must be ‘onwards and upwards!’

This first concert is a fabulous programme of Russian music - of which all three pieces couldn’t really be more popular.  Our Bob Harding Bursary recipient, Ignatius Wang (Iggy), will be conducting the first item, Borodin’s colourful Polovtsian Dances.  The concert version you are to hear of the Dances comes from the 2nd Act of Borodin’s unfinished opera Prince Igor and the extracts which make up the Dances were assembled and orchestrated by Borodin’s close friend Rimsky-Korsakov.  If, by any chance, you think you don’t know the Polovtsian Dances remember the musical Kismet, set in the East, and your memory might be jogged?

Our concerto item is Rachmaninov’s brilliant Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - better known as the “Rach. Pag”.  Along with the Brahms Haydn Variations and Elgar’s Enigma Variations they are possibly one of the greatest sets of Variations in the orchestral repertoire.  Our piano soloist will be the virtuoso Viv McLean, who I believe is no stranger to HSO audiences.  I always enjoy working with Viv.  He is the most gentle and accommodating of soloists but when it comes to the music he packs an emotional and powerful punch.  I know you will enjoy his performance.

After the interval we will perform the great four movement orchestral suite Scheherazade.  The work is simply a joy from start to finish not only because of the glorious music but because it tells the curious story of the Sultan Shakhriar, his various wives and his lack of trust in their fidelity.  One of his wives - her name the title of the suite manages to save…  but that would be telling!  So - do arrive early and read your programme notes.  All will be revealed.  Incidentally - look out for the numerous orchestral solos in the piece, particularly in the wind section.

So – here’s to an exciting first concert of our 2014 Season and a brilliant future.

Jonathan Butcher

CDs for this concert

Sourced by Gordon Egerton (Clarinet)

Borodin – Polovtsian Dances
and Rimsky-Korsakov – “Scheherazade”
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra,
Sir Thomas Beecham
EMI Great Recordings of the Century, 5669832  £7.75

Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Vladimir Ashkenazy,
London Symphony Orchestra,
André Previn
(c/w Piano Concerto No 2)
Decca 4177022  £8.50

Christmas Wreaths

This is an opportunity to buy hand-made Christmas Wreaths (14 inch for £14, 12 inch for £12 or 8 inch for £6) with 20% of the purchase price being donated to the orchestral society.

These can be ordered through Becky Krasniqi (cello) at HSO rehearsals or by ordering via the contact form on the website, quoting code HSO2014 so that the 20% can be donated to the orchestral society.

Reminder for players

If you find you can’t make it to a rehearsal or concert, please inform the relevant orchestral manager (Tony or Barbara) as early as possible, to allow rehearsal plans to be adjusted or a dep to be appointed if necessary.  If you cannot attend regular rehearsals or fail to give appropriate notice of absence the orchestral manager may have to resort to giving your position to someone else!

Saturday 7th February 2015, 7.30pm
at Ferneham Hall, Fareham

Havant Chamber Orchestra

Leader: Brian Howells
Conductor: Robin Browning

Overture “The Impresario” Mozart
Intermezzo, Nocturne and Scherzo
from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 
Piano Concerto No 4 in G Beethoven
Soloist: Cordelia Williams
Symphony No 99 Haydn

Tickets  £20.00; £17.00; £14.00; £8.00
Students half price / Under 19s £1.00
from Ferneham Hall Box Office
01329 231942

Other Musical Events

compiled by Geoff Porter

Saturday 13th December 7.30pm
St. Mary’s, Portsmouth
Portsmouth Choral Union and
Hampshire County Youth Orchestra

Thursday 18th December 7.30pm
Portsmouth Guildhall
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Last Night of the Christmas Proms.

Thursday 15th January 7.30pm
Portsmouth Guildhall
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Brahms, Beethoven (John Lill, piano)
& Dvořák

Monday 19th January 7.30pm
The Harlequin Room
Portsmouth Guildhall
Melvyn Tan, piano

Friday 30th January 7.30pm
Portsmouth Guildhall
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Berlioz, Chopin & Schumann
Conductor: Karabits

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2015!

Society contact information can be found on the Contacts page within this web site.

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