For the latest amateur classical music listings in and around Portsmouth, including Fareham, Petersfield, Chichester, Havant and Hayling Island

Why did Grieg keep a pet frog in his pocket? How to write a good concert preview or review

Written in the future tense, a preview should inform, enthuse and excite the reader about a forthcoming performance.

Apart from describing the practicalities, such as the time, place, how to get tickets, and who are the soloists, the preview should state what is being played or sung: is it a serious highbrow work, light music, opera or popular classics?

It should describe why the performance is taking place. It may be a regular, scheduled concert, something specially put on for a charity, or alternatively a memorial concert put on for a local musician.

In order to hold the reader’s interest, some new or unusual facts are needed. Is it the first time this music has been played? When was the ensemble formed and in what circumstances? What gave the composer the impulse to write this work?

If the writer fails to communicate anything interesting about the conductor, players or singers, there may be some appeal in describing something little known about the composer themselves. Mendelssohn was a prolific swimmer. Grieg kept a pet frog in his pocket while he performed. Dvorak was an avid train-spotter. That sort of thing.

By contrast, a review is like a glance through the rear-view mirror and should be written in the past tense. Some of the facts in the preview may have to be repeated to put the event in context.

But reviews dwell on the question “how did it go?” How did the orchestra, ensemble or choir perform? Was there a full house? Who attended? Were any civic dignitaries or celebrities present? Were there any slip-ups and how were they overcome? Who were the stars of the show?

Reviews of amateur events should be charitable and err on the side of kindness. We always focus on the positive, on the basis that our prime aim of encouraging classical music is shared between us.

Unlike trained professionals, the participants may have demanding full-time jobs. They may have to work their hobby round family and social commitments. They deserve encouragement and merit fulsome praise when they do well. Compared to other forms of live entertainment, amateur classical music or choral performances are cheap. Give these enthusiasts a chance.

Writing profiles of performers

Everyone has a story to tell. Please contact us if you would like to have a profile written about yourself for the Music in Portsmouth website, at no charge.


Profile: Antonia Kent

Antonia Kent is graceful, tall, and talented. Known as Toni to her friends, her life is awash with musical activity. For a start, she is a very accomplished saxophonist and a first-class double bass player.

Educated at Gravesend Grammar School, Toni began learning the piano aged eight but was soon drawn towards the saxophone as her favourite instrument. She gained a master’s degree in music at Chichester University where her tutor, ace clarinettist Spencer Bundy, still regards her as one of his star pupils.

Toni plays the double bass in the Havant Symphony Orchestra, Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chichester Symphony Orchestra. She also plays tenor saxophone in the Changing Winds Quartet and the Auster Quartet. The Auster Quartet also has the option of combining the clarinet, flute and bassoon within the ensemble making it highly popular as a weddings and functions band.

A Performance Administrator at Chichester University in her professional life, Toni organises students’ instrumental/vocal lessons and exams. She also deals with general queries from students and staff. As if that were not enough, she is heavily into orchestral management. Currently, she is involved with the Hanover Band, one of Britain’s finest period instrument orchestras. It’s named after the Hanoverian period of British history (1714 to 1830) and has toured all over the Northern Hemisphere from China to Canada and from Mexico to Manchester. The Band and its Schubert Octet have concerts in East and West Sussex this year.

Toni is also a dab hand at baking. Her fancy cupcakes and imaginatively decorated, mouth-watering gateaux are to die for.  Cakes and classical music; what a treat for the senses!


St Richard Singers offers choral scholarships

The St Richard Singers believe in nurturing talent and offering support during every stage of a singer’s life.

In that spirit of education and development, the choir is delighted to offer Choral Scholarships for up to eight singers each choir season (running from September to July).

The Scholarships are designed to give younger singers a platform to develop their choral singing technique and learn new repertoire, as well as building sight-reading, teamwork, and musical leadership skills in an active musical environment, all while receiving mentoring and support.

Read more at the link below.


Profile: Penny Gordon, baritone saxophonist

For the last three years, Penny Gordon has played the baritone saxophone in the Meon Valley Orchestra. Her husband Lionel, a Royal Navy Surgeon Rear Admiral, bought the instrument for her. When she was younger she played the clarinet in the Teesside County Orchestra. She’s played smaller saxophones but she’s thrilled with this impressive, larger member of the woodwind family.

A vivacious blonde with a ready sense of humour, Penny often gets the tuba parts to play in arrangements of classical works with the MVO. She takes these challenges all in her stride and the baritone makes a significant contribution to the full sound of the orchestra.

Penny Gordon is also a medical professional – a highly qualified doctor. She was headhunted from her consultant radiologist post at Haslar Hospital to head up medical leadership and education in a state-of-the-art set of hospitals in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar. Based in Doha, the capital, she spent two and a half years as the Chief Medical Officer for the whole country.

Like several Arabic Gulf states, Qatar has a vastly different culture from the UK. There are diverse customs, different traditions and rules of behaviour. Some are baffling to Europeans who must tread warily in their professional and social lives. Penny’s book “800 Days in Doha” (ISBN 978-1-911105-32-9) is an amusing, exciting and captivating account of days spent in Qatar.  It is published by Chaplin Books and all royalties are going towards that most worthy of charities, the Order of St John.


How one choir is honing its communication skills to reach a new audience

The Bach Choir embarked on a bold new project: its members have written a script to bring context to the music in their next concert.

“I’m convinced that an audience’s experience could be greatly enhanced by more explanation of the music they’re about to hear. Do any of us read the programme notes before the concert? Wouldn’t it be more rewarding to hear the performers’ thoughts about the work [in advance] than reading those of a music historian?”

Read more at the link below.


Profile: John Elder – a bass clarinettist

For the last two and a half years, John Elder has played an E flat contrabass clarinet. He’s a highly valued member of the Meon Valley Orchestra and the Alton Concert Band and lives in Selbourne.

A retired geophysicist, John worked most of his life in the oil and gas industry. He spent ten years in the Middle East and eleven years in Borneo, a country he loves. He says he spent years and years extracting oil and gas from the earth, and years and years putting it back to store it for future use.

As a youngster John played the clarinet but like many amateur musicians he had a gap of not playing while work, family life and other interests took priority. In John’s case it was an interval of thirty-five years.

As retirement loomed, his wife suggested that he either start playing again or sell his collection of clarinets. He decided to return to the clarinet as a hobby. On a visit to a music shop he was advised that bass clarinettists were much sought after. So he sold his clutch of shorter instruments and took up the bass versions. This opened up new playing opportunities. However, he privately admits that his collection of newly-found instruments has started to grow again.


A profile of Stella Scott – a Star Performer

Most amateur musicians can only dream of playing under the baton of the celebrated conductor Sir Simon Rattle. For ‘cellist Stella Scott, it’s about to become a once-in-a-lifetime reality. She has been chosen from over 1,000 applicants worldwide to play in a prestigious concert hall in Berlin, Germany. Rehearsals will begin on 17 May and lead up to an open day concert on 21 May this year.

The event is being held in the Berliner Philharmonie, the grand auditorium on Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse in Berlin. Ninety-two musicians from all over the world have been selected to take part. Instead of a live audition, Stella had to submit a video of her playing. She is one of only three ‘cellists who were chosen from the UK.

Mother of two Stella is a part-time librarian from Chandlers Ford. She is also the principal ‘cellist in the highly respected Havant Symphony and the Havant Chamber Orchestras. She been playing since she was seven; she played in the Coventry Youth Orchestra and studied under Christopher Bunting of the Royal College of Music.


Get your news published on the Noticeboard!

Get news published on musicinportsmouth.co.uk about your future concerts, as well as reviews of concerts and general news about your group.

The Noticeboard has the largest number of visits on musicinportsmouth.co.uk.

Contributions should include:

• The author’s name
• The web address where the original preview or review has been published, if applicable
• An image.

Copyright

It’s important that any contribution is free from copyright. Please let us know if any material that you provide us with is already available somewhere online (e.g. on a newspaper’s web page).

If this is the case, we will generally only reproduce the first paragraph of the article and then link to the newspaper’s web page. It’s vital that we continue to support the press in this fashion.

It’s also important that any contribution:

• Is accurate (where it states facts);
• Is genuinely held (where it states opinions);
• Does not contain any material that is or may be defamatory of any person, obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory;
• Does not promote sexually explicit material, nor promote violence and/or discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age;
• Is not be likely to deceive any person or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent the contributor’s identity or affiliation with any person;
• Is not threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or harm;
• Does not advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act or illegal activity.

We reserve the right not to publish any contribution which does not fulfil the above criteria.

We use the hashtag #MiPNoticeboard on Twitter to help you find our notices.

Contact us to send in your contribution.


News: The Consort of Twelve open new season in Chichester

The Consort of Twelve opens its 2018 season with a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by the internationally-acclaimed violinist Kati Debretzeni. Read more at the links below.


Classical music is Bach in fashion as orchestras grow

For centuries, people have gathered to listen to musical masterpieces.  Beethoven, Mozart, Bach – there are thousands of pieces for enthusiasts to lose themselves in.

Listening to a symphony can take you on an emotional rollercoaster.

But imagine having the talent to perform a piece by Mahler or Rachmaninov with an orchestra?

Read more at the link below.


Portsmouth Festivities is back for 2018 and it’s just as big as ever!

Portsmouth Festivities, Portsmouth’s flagship multi-disciplinary arts festival, is now in its 19th year, and the programme continues with a fantastic mix of concerts, talks, theatre and outdoor events planned for 10 days from 15 to 24 June.

Click here to see all the music listings relating to the Festival that are featured on Music in Portsmouth.

Here’s a selection of the music on offer:

Opening Gala Concert – O Duo

O Duo will be making a banging start when they play for the Opening Gala Concert on 15 June. They bring together an eclectic line up of classical and contemporary music with percussion instruments and will be joined by The Portsmouth Grammar School during their performance. Their programme will include pieces by Soler, Mendelssohn and Glass. Read more.

The Tallis Scholars

The Tallis Scholars will be performing at Portsmouth Cathedral on 22 June. The evening will include pieces by Byrd, Gibbons, Tavener and Britten. The Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir will also be joining in during parts of the performance. Read more.

Carlos Bonell

Join us for an intimate evening at the Square Tower on 24 June, where Carlos will present a wide selection of guitar music from his best-selling no.1 Beatles album to Bach and Villa-Lobos – via the amazing music of Barrington (Inspector Morse) Pheloung and a world première of Mystical Movements. Read more.

 

 

 

 


Portsmouth Festivities kicks off launch with shanties

Thursday marked the launch of Portsmouth Festivities which has a mix of concerts, talks, theatre and outdoor events planned for ten days from June 15 until 24.

The theme for this year’s festival is Freedom, with revellers able to try out the Escape Room, participate in a spot of backwards running with three times World champion Garret Doherty and listen to speakers including Peter Tatchell, Philip Hoare, Lloyd Clark and Diane Atkinson.

Festivities Director Erica Smith said: ‘Freedom seemed really fitting for this year as we mark the centenary of women’s suffrage and the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela.

Read more at the link below.


How do you fill seats at performances of classical music?

Andre Rieu seems to have found the answer already. His orchestra’s performances draw in vast numbers of people. And his concerts at Maastricht are beamed into cinemas and television screens all over the world. These are highly successful spectacles. Their repertoires are popular, well-known music containing lots of Viennese waltz material. Andre’s shows have a high standard of musicianship and musicality. These qualities are complemented by visual delights such as ballroom and ballet dancers, ice skaters, top class male and female solo singers, comic turns, fountains, coaches and horses, pyrotechnics, special lighting plus ever-changing backdrops. Roving cameras pick out members of the audience enjoying themselves. Andre talks to the audience throughout the show. The audience is encouraged to clap along with certain numbers.

The shows’ profits must be gigantic. But the outlay must be tremendous too. Expenses include purpose-built stages and sets, security, health and safety considerations, fire regulation adherence, printed tickets, programmes, multi-media advertising and public liability insurance. The musicians have to be paid too. Such operations are beyond the scope of amateur orchestras.

Critics say that music is being dumbed down and hackneyed.

Classic FM, twenty-five years old this year, has the right idea too. It broadcasts popular material at peak times such as during the school run and at evening drive time. Full works concerts and music for higher-browed listeners are broadcast in mid and late evenings. Consequently, 5.8 million listeners enjoy its wide variety of classical music. Of that audience, 1.2 million are under the age of thirty-five and 161,000 listeners are younger than the station itself. But live music is different from radio, television or compact discs. The main differences are that the devotee must leave the house, travel to the concert venue and then pay to listen.

There is also an important distinction to be made between amateur orchestras and professional ones.

Amateur orchestral musicians pay fees to play. Some, but not all, like to perform in concerts. Chamber music lovers may just want to rehearse and play for their own pleasure. Even so, the orchestra must allow the musicians to play at least some of the music that they like or they would leave. These may not necessarily be popular or even well-known works. The players’ musical tastes may be esoteric, high-brow or even obscure: more towards BBC 3 than Classic FM. For such musicians, the size of the audience may be of secondary importance. However, in the main, amateur musicians do like to perform at concerts as it gives them deadlines to work towards and an opportunity to enjoy the audience’s applause.

Professional orchestras are different. The musicians are paid to perform. They may have less of a say about the repertoire than their amateur counterparts. Their musical directors may have less choice over what they play because they have an audience to please. Their music must be either of a very high standard or popular enough to fill the venue. People generally like to hear music that they know.

All orchestras must have funds to operate. They need money to pay for rehearsal venues, concert halls and sometimes the hiring of specialist musicians or the buying of group-owned instruments like timpani, for example. Grand, geographically accessible concert halls are expensive. The cost of sheet music is an important factor too. Although many orchestras have their own libraries, newer modern works must be bought. Performing rights fees must be paid to play some works in public. Film and theatre show music often fall into this category.

Purists might argue that the quality of the music is the only thing that is important. Concerts where the performers are dressed in sombre, funereal black or starchy evening attire with the conductor hardly acknowledging the audience’s presence save for a few formal bows, do not please the majority of concert goers. It may be assumed that most have come to be entertained. Otherwise, they would get their music from radio, television or compact discs at home.

At classical spectaculars in the Albert Hall conductors talk to the audience and often encourage them into flag-waving or clapping their way through numbers like Redetzky March or Berliner Luft. At evenings like these female instrumentalists and singers are often dressed in eye-catching dresses while the men sport attractively coloured dinner jackets. At the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts the audience dresses up as well.

Pyrotechnics are also used together with canons and muskets to bring martial music to a tremendous finale.

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is a professional outfit. Its February concert in Portsmouth Guildhall is billed as Heroes and Monsters. The programme includes works by John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore. This is not aimed at lovers of high-brow music although their regular concerts contain more conventional classical works. The BSO has an emailing list of their followers and uses mail-shot advertising. Tickets can be bought online. The BSO also has whole day events where “rusty” and “not so rusty” amateur musicians pay to rehearse alongside the professionals and take part in a free concert in the evening.

Havant Symphony Orchestra is an amateur orchestra. It’s been going for fifty years and performs at Oaklands School, Waterlooville and the Hayling Island Community Centre. Its sister ensemble the Havant Chamber Orchestra plays at Fernham Hall in Fareham. The HSO plays a mixture of music. There are major, full-blown works such as Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky or Holst’s’ Planet Suite, balanced with “lollipops” like the overtures to Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss or the Merry Wives of Windsor by Nicolai. These are usually played alongside a concerto performed by excellent, visiting soloists on piano, violin or other instruments. The conductor does not usually talk to the audience. HSO has a website, sells tickets online and uses flyer advertising. It has a supportive Friends organisation and season ticket holders.

The longstanding Portsmouth Light Orchestra is another amateur orchestra. As its name implies, it specialises in light classical and easy-listening pieces including film and theatre music. Robert Farnon, Ronald Binge and Leroy Anderson are just some of the PLO’s favourite composers. Other pieces in their repertoire include the Pirates of Penzance by Arthur Sullivan, the Merry Widow by Franz Lehar and Pirates of the Caribbean composed by Klaus Badeit and arranged by Hans Zimmer. Film music scores are popular with their younger audiences. In a genial fashion, the conductor introduces each piece to be played. The PLO’s concert venues are the Buckland Community Centre and the Admiral Lord Nelson School. Advertising flyers and word-of-mouth helps swell their audience numbers. The PLO has a jolly Christmas concert where Santa hats and festive garb are the order of the day. Other concerts are performed in black dinner jackets and white shirts.

The Meon Valley Orchestra, Hampshire’s newest amateur ensemble, began as a tiny folk group ten years ago. Now it is a complete orchestral ensemble with brass, woodwind and percussion. Its repertoire is wide-ranging and popular, sprinkled with a few more serious works. The MVO has one main concert charity concert per year in the United Reformed Church in Fareham which holds an audience of 200. It is usually a sell-out. MVO also performs at village fetes, Christmas carol services and garden parties. Its players have a short-sleeved summer uniform and customary concert dress is white shirts with coloured bow ties for men and colourful dresses for ladies. Santa hats and decorated music stands appear at the Christmas fetes. The MVO does not have a website and most of their advertising is by posters, flyers and word of mouth.

For all orchestras, a balance must be struck between crowd-pleasing material and more serious works. They must choose between lightsome, entertaining presentations and ultra-formal performances. All orchestras must accrue funds to pay for necessary expenses and advertising to raise their profile and publicise their forthcoming concerts. Over time, all must build up a following, creating season ticket holders, supporters and sponsors. All must strive to raise their game and play at the highest standard possible, improving their performances with every concert.

Decisions over such matters are for musical directors and orchestra managers and, to a degree, the musicians themselves to make. Those who have the final say must be sensitive to all these aspects in order to achieve success.


Simon Wilkins appointed the new conductor of the Chichester Symphony Orchestra

Simon Wilkins MMus DipABRSM is enjoying his first term at the Chichester Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and preparing the orchestra for his first concert on 17 March 2018.

The CSO is focused around repertoire from the classical period, expanding to perform Romantic era music in some concerts.

Simon currently works as an instrumental teacher of both cello and piano, teaching music technology and other keyboard accompanying work, conducting, composing and arranging. Besides conducting the CSO, Simon also conducts the Marchwood Orchestra in Southampton.


11 ways to make your choir sparkle – by The King’s Singers

We thought that this article was so good that we’ve put it up here. Click to view the full article and watch the videos.

It’s 50 years since a group of six cloistered choral scholars from Cambridge stepped into the spotlight and introduced the world to The King’s Singers. They were, pretty much, an overnight sensation: hit albums followed, along with numerous TV appearances, international tours, global fame. The line-up has changed only very gradually over the years – to have sung with the King’s Singers remains a very exclusive club.

The current group is celebrating its Golden Anniversary this year with some special concerts (including one at King’s College, Cambridge where the original grouped formed in the 1960s) and a special album showcasing their trademark mix of high classical and popular hits.

We asked them to share the secret of their choral success. So here – exclusively for Radio 3 – are the King’s Singers’ top tips for making your voices sparkle as much as theirs.

Read full article.

 


Making Music Information and advice event: Making Local Connections, 17 March (new date)

University of Chichester

Saturday, 17 March 2018 – 10:00am to 1:00pm, free entry

Join Making Music to discuss the best ways of making a wide range of connections, whether it’s key local figures and organisations, other local groups, suppliers, potential funders and sponsors, the media or even new audiences.

Mingle with other music makers over a refreshment, get an update on new resources and services from Making Music and meet your local Making Music team.


Chichester Symphony Orchestra welcomes new players

We have a number of vacancies, specifically in our Brass sections, and strings are always welcome.

We are an enthusiastic friendly mixed-age orchestra who enjoy meeting to make music and enjoy each other’s company.

We rehearse on Tuesday evenings in central Chichester from 7.30 – 9.30 (term time only) and perform 4 times a year in Chichester including once at the Cathedral as part of their lunchtime series.

If you are 18+, have some orchestral experience and are interested in joining CSO, please get in touch. You can contact us via our website www.chichesterso.co.uk or via our Facebook page or by emailing jillhookercso@btinternet.com.


Petersfield Music Festival tickets available online

You can now buy tickets for the 2018 Festival online at www.petersfieldmusicalfestival.org.uk or in person at One Tree Books, Lavant Street, Petersfield. Follow the PMF on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PetersfieldFest.


The University of Portsmouth Music Department wins Best Classical Act in in The News Guide Awards

This week The Guide Awards celebrated the best of the local arts world at a glittering bash at The New Theatre Royal. Fourteen awards were handed out, covering music, stage, comedy and cinema, based on public votes.

In first place was the University of Portsmouth Music Department for its Portsmouth Messiah 1812 project of March 2017 (see link below), which was a large-scale re-creation of a performance of the work. The Renaissance Choir was voted runner-up for its link with the Palestrina Foundation.


The Renaissance Choir seeks a first and a second alto

We have vacancies for two altos in our ambitious and friendly choir.

Learn more about joining us!

Join us


Welcome to the Noticeboard!

Here you can read news about performers and performances, as well as previews and reviews of concerts.

Contributions should include:

• The author’s name
• The web address where the original preview or review has been published, if applicable
• An image.

Copyright

It’s important that any contribution is free from copyright. It would be useful to know if any material that you provide us with is already available somewhere online (e.g. on a newspaper’s website) so that we can link to their page. It’s vital that we continue to support the press in this fashion. If this is the case, we will generally only reproduce the first paragraph of the article and then link to it.

It’s also important that any contribution:

• Is accurate (where it states facts);
• Is genuinely held (where it states opinions);
• Does not contain any material that is or may be defamatory of any person, obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory;
• Does not promote sexually explicit material, nor promote violence and/or discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age;
• Is not be likely to deceive any person or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent the contributor’s identity or affiliation with any person;
• Is not threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or harm;
• Does not advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act or illegal activity.

We reserve the right not to publish any contribution which does not fulfil the above criteria.

We use the hashtag #MiPNoticeboard on Twitter to help you find our notices.

Contact us to send in your contribution.


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