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Newsletter for December 2015

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, PC    Patrons: The Mayor of Havant; The Mayor of Fareham

December 2015 Newsletter

From the Chairman …

We congratulate our President, formerly the Rt Hon David Willetts MP,  on being made a life peer in the 2015 Dissolution Honours, and taking up the excellent title of Baron Willetts of Havant in the County of Hampshire.  We hope he will still be able to find time to enjoy some of our concerts.

We are now starting our second full season of Havant Symphony Orchestra concerts back at Oaklands Catholic School in Waterlooville.  So far, we have been very pleased with how the music comes across, with the warm acoustics of the hall and the additional space for players.  The sound can even be a bit overwhelming at times, especially in contrast with Ferneham Hall!  However, the non-musical aspects are still somewhat challenging.  After nearly 30 years of letting Ferneham Hall take care of such matters we are still learning how to handle them at Oaklands, including ticket sales, refreshments, directions around the hall, and even how to inform the audience about the end of the interval.  The area we use as a foyer is essentially a corridor, and it might well help if we could encourage people to keep over to the side to let others pass.  Please let us know if you spot any specific problems which we need to fix or have any constructive suggestions for how to make things run more smoothly.

Musical director Jonathan Butcher has selected an ambitious and varied programme for HSO’s first concert of the new season, including three works which HSO has never played before. Our new bursary student Joe Beckhelling will be conducting the joyous and noisy Shostakovich Festive Overture followed by the total contrast of the quiet and soulful Ravel Pavane.  We then welcome our first vocal soloist for many years, Jane Streeton, for the sublime Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss.  After the interval, we have the magnificent power and passion of Elgar’s first symphony.  Don’t miss this exceptional concert!

Jonathan Scott     Tel: 023 8026 1372

Saturday 5th December’s Programme

at Oaklands School, Waterlooville

6.30 Pre-concert talk in the main hall by Vincent Iyengar about the Elgar Symphony
7.00 Pre-concert interlude in the main hall by local music pupils
7.20 Take your seats in the main hall
7.30 The Concert
conducted by Jonathan Butcher and Joseph Beckhelling.
*Festive Overture Shostakovich
*Pavane pour une infante défunte Ravel
Four Last Songs 
 Soloist: Jane Streeton
Richard Strauss
    Interval – 20 minutes
Symphony No. 1 in A flat Elgar
9.30 (approx) End of Concert
We wish you a safe journey home.

Pre-concert Talk

6:30pm in the main hall

Find out more about the Elgar Symphony by arriving early and attending the pre-concert talk in the main hall, which will be given by Vincent Iyengar (HSO viola).

We recommend taking seats at or near the front so that you can easily hear the speaker and the musical excerpts.  If you miss the start, please enter as quietly as possible.

Pre-Concert Interlude

7:00pm in the main hall

An interlude of pre-concert music will be provided by Portsmouth Grammar School viola group, consisting of six pupils of Ruth McGibben (HCO viola).

This takes place immediately after the pre-concert talk, in the main hall.  Please feel free to enter or leave the hall quietly while the playing is in progress, and to choose anywhere convenient to sit during the interlude, rather than having to find your concert seat at that time.  The interlude should finish by around 7:20pm, giving you time to find your allocated seat before the start of the concert.

Notes from the conductor…

So – to the first HSO concert of the 2015/2016 Season and what a concert!  This should prove a delicious cocktail of compositions.

The first two items – the thrilling Festive Overture by Shostakovitch and Ravel’s Pavane – are to be conducted by our new Bursary holder, Joe Beckhelling.  The Overture was written the same year I was born (that’s got you guessing) and its first performance was given, not in Russia, but in Utah by the City’s Symphony Orchestra, under Maurice Abravanel, whom I met when I studied at the Tanglewood Summer School of Music in the Berkshire Hills, USA.  Abravanel had retired by that stage but was on hand at the Summer School to offer advice and support.  He was a most modest and gentle man and I don’t believe many of us students, in those days, had any idea who he was and what he had achieved.  It was always a pleasure to sit and chat with him and his wife in the campus cafeteria.  I returned to Tanglewood a few years ago and I was delighted to find that it hadn’t changed a bit!

The Pavane is, as many of you linguists will know, a Pavane specifically for a dead Princess and not just for a child.  It started life as a piano work and was composed while Ravel was studying with Fauré in Paris.  His orchestration of the work, in 1910, is much more well known and features our Principal Horn, Bridget.

We welcome, for the first time to the HSO, the soprano Jane Streeton, who will be our soloist in the Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss.  These extraordinary pieces are simply sublime in every way and I only hope we do them justice.  Jane and I work together at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she is in charge of the Singing Faculty and I direct the Choral Singing Classes.  The Four Last Songs has probably been requested on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs more than any other piece; if you are hearing the work for the first time I hope you will understand why.

Speaking of Desert Island Discs – the major work in this first concert is most definitely one of mine.  Elgar’s first symphony is an enormous but totally stunning composition and I trust our performance will keep you engaged from start to finish.  In this short piece for the Newsletter I can’t possibly say more than a few words but I must mention the work’s key of A flat major, a key which I find most comforting, and out of its key note A flat Elgar gives us the most heart rending melody right at the very start of the Symphony, reminiscent of the patriotic tunes he wrote for his Pomp and Circumstance Marches, Land of Hope and Glory being the firm favourite.  The Scherzo is like quicksilver with traces of Elgar’s trademark woodland music here and there.  A single F sharp links this movement to, for me, one of the greatest slow movements ever written.  Its main theme seems to sum up contentment and a sense of being at peace.  The last movement, after a somewhat mysterious introduction, is more turbulent but none the less Elgarian.  We hear musicologists talk of music that is ‘other worldly’ but we are, perhaps, unsure what they really mean.  For me there is a section about two thirds through the movement (Figure 130), which is just that – and it never fails to move.

I hope you enjoy the concert.  We will certainly enjoy playing for you.  Do bring your friends. It’s a feast!

Jonathan Butcher

CD recommendations for the works in this concert

Sourced by Gordon Egerton (Clarinet)

Shostakovich - Festive Overture
Philharmonia Orchestra, Vladimir Ashkenazy
(c/w Symphony no. 5)
Signum Classics SIGCD 135 £8.75

Ravel - Pavane pour une infant défunte
Orchestre National de Lyon, Leonard Slatkin
(c/w other orchestral works including ‘Bolero’ and ‘Rapsodie Espagnole’)
Naxos 8.572887 £6.25

Strauss - Four Last Songs
Elizabeth Schwartzkopf, Radio Symphony Orchestra, Berlin, George Szell
(c/w other orchestral songs)
Warner Classics 25646 07591 £7.00

Elgar - Symphony No.1
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis
LSO Live LSO 0017 £5.75

(Prices quoted are from the Presto Classical website).


I’m very pleased to have the assistance of Laura Peters this season. Laura is a student of Music Marketing and Administration at Chichester University and has already helped Geoff Porter with front-of-house at Ferneham Hall in October and me with publicity for this concert.  You’ll see Laura at front-of-house at Oaklands helping us to avoid queues and crushes in the foyer!

If you like using the internet, Geoff could also do with someone to help putting our events onto online listings sites.

We would also really appreciate help from someone with expertise in publicity and finding sponsors.

Do contact me if you are interested!

Stella Scott

Next concert

Other concerts by
local orchestras

(See Events page on our website for details)

Saturday 16th January 2016, 7:30pm,
St. Paul’s Church, Winchester
Winchester Chamber Orchestra
Winter Concert: Fauré, Saint-Saëns, Schumann

Saturday 23rd January 2016, 11:00am and 2:00pm, Central Hall, Southampton
City of Southampton Orchestra
Family concert

Saturday 23rd January 2016, 7:15pm,
Medina Theatre, Newport, Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra
Richard Rodney Bennett, Mendelssohn, Elgar, Dvořák

Other musical events

compiled by Geoff Porter

Saturday 9th January 2016, 7:30pm
‘Pieces of Eight’
(Strings and Wind Octet)
at Portsmouth Music Club,
Michael Nott Rotunda,
Portsmouth Grammar School,
Old Portsmouth

Thursday 14th January 2016, 7:30pm
Portsmouth Guildhall
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Liadov: Kikimora;
Shostakovich: Violin Concerto No.1 (soloist: Valeriy Sokolov)
Beethoven: Symphony No.5
Conductor: Kees Bakels.

Thursday 28th January 2016, 7:30pm
Portsmouth Guildhall
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Kodaly: Dances of Galanta
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No.3 (soloist: John Lill)
Brahms: Symphony No.3
Conductor: Christoph Konig

Society contact information

Havant and District Orchestral Society (HADOS)
Registered Charity No 288747  Email:  Tel: 023 8026 1372


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

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