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

Preview: Buoyant Beethoven and Bruch – Petersfield Orchestra summer concert

In the closing months of 1803, there was a good chance that Napoleon was going to invade Britain. He had 150,000 soldiers or more at the ready, assembled on the cliffs at Boulogne, and was only waiting for a fair wind to speed them across the Channel before the Royal Navy could stop him. Thankfully it was never ‘mission accomplished’ – his own fleet let Napoleon down. But this was a minor blip in Napoleon’s relentless onward march through history. He had already carved up Italy and was even then eyeing Austria greedily. And this same year, just a decade after the last French king had been decapitated, Napoleon gave free rein to his monarchical ambitions and declared himself Emperor of the French.

Far from Paris, in Vienna (where Napoleon would sooner or later arrive), an ambitious, irascible and increasingly deaf composer who had once been sympathetic to the ideals of the French Revolution was outraged at this betrayal of egalitarian principle. And so Beethoven angrily ripped out the dedication to Napoleon of his latest symphony. A bold thing to do when this was only his third such work.

Fortunately, he left the music intact. It turned out to be a magnificent celebration of heroism and defiance, always known as the ‘Eroica.’ Petersfield Orchestra tackle this resplendent work in their imminent summer concert, and conductor Mark Biggins at the end of his first year in charge is relishing the challenge. ‘I am trying to find a different tone colour for each of the three composers in the programme,’ he says. ‘Alongside the drama of Beethoven, there is Rossini, whose Thieving Magpie overture demands from us a quickfire and quicksilver brilliance. And we also have a gorgeous late-Romantic concerto by Max Bruch – not his famous violin concerto, but a Double Concerto for clarinet and viola. For that, we shall be searching out the right lyrical shades to match the artistry of our two talented local soloists, Rob Blanken and Malcolm Porter.’

Petersfield Orchestra’s Summer Concert takes place on Thursday 14 June in Petersfield Festival Hall in Heath Road, starting at 7.30, with a free pre-performance talk in the Hall at 6.30. Tickets are on sale from 19 May at One Tree Books in Lavant St. (T: 01730 261199), priced at £18 and £16, or just £1 for under-18s.

Concert details below.


Preview: Vaughan Williams – A Sea Symphony & Elgar – Enigma Variations by the Portsmouth Choral Union

For the final concert of its 2017-2018 season, Portsmouth Choral Union will give local audiences a rare opportunity to hear Ralph Vaughan Williams’ mighty and majestic ‘A Sea Symphony’. Written for large orchestra, with Soprano and Baritone soloists, this is one of the first symphonies in which a choir is used, as an integral part of the musical texture, in all four movements. The music is, by turns exciting, evocative, dramatic and, above all, melodic and memorable. All lovers of English choral music are encouraged to hear this concert, which will also include Elgar’s ever popular ‘Enigma Variations’.

Its performance will take place at St Mary’s Church Portsea on Saturday 16th June, beginning at 7.30. The choir, joined here by members of The Bournemouth Sinfonietta Choir, will be on top form, having recently performed the work on tour in Germany with the German choir ‘Musikgemeinder Osterode’. It will be accompanied by Southern Pro Musica, under the musical direction of their conductor David Gostick.


Preview: Mark Dancer’s Summer Organ Recitals

Mark Dancer’s Nineteenth Series of Summer Organ Recitals at St Peter’s, Petersfield begins on Tuesday May 29. As usual, they will feature composers who have a significant anniversary in 2018. This year’s composers are François Couperin, Hubert Parry and Jeanne Demessieux. The other dates are June 12 & 26, and July 10. Admission is free and they start at 1.00pm.

François Couperin (1668-1733) is probably the most famous member of one of the best-known families in Europe at the time. He was a virtuoso keyboard player and composed over 230 pieces of harpsichord music, published in four volumes. His two Organ Masses represent the apogee of the genre in France, epitomising the elegance of French baroque music.

Most people will have heard or sung ‘Jerusalem’ by Hubert Parry (1848-1918) or his coronation anthem ‘I was glad’. While not actually a child prodigy, he was sufficiently talented to pass the Oxford Bachelor of Music degree at whilst still at Eton. Music was not thought highly of as a profession in the mid-nineteenth century, so he read law and modern history at Oxford, becoming an underwriter at Lloyds of London after graduating. However, he was as unsuccessful at insurance as he was skilled at music, which he made his career, holding simultaneously the posts of Heather Professor of Music at Oxford and Head of the Royal College of Music.

Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968) was a pupil of Marcel Dupré, joining his organ class at the Paris Conservatoire in 1939. She won first prize for organ performance and improvisation in 1941. After the end of World War II she began a career as a concert organist, giving over 700 concerts in Europe and the US, and from 1962 was titular organist of La Madeleine church in Paris. She had a phenomenal memory, having memorised over 2,500 works, but also the most astonishing technique, as is evidenced in her organ compositions and she was renowned for playing in stiletto heels!


Preview: Rose Hsien and Havant Chamber Orchestra’s May Concert

Readers may not have not heard of violins made by Carlo Bergonzi. This is a shame because he made some top-class fiddles. In fact, his Mum and Dad lived next door to Antonio Stadivari in the Piazza San Dominco in Cremona, Italy. Young Carlo was apprenticed to the Amati family of luthiers and also worked with the Guanari violin makers. In time he became so good that Stradivari gave him all of his repair business.

Carlo Bergonzi’s finest violin was made in 1740 and became known as the Kreisler, because Fritz Kreisler owned it for a while.  Itzhak Perlman played it too. However, even the most wonderful fiddle in the world needs to be in the right person’s hands for its beauty to be appreciated.

Fortunately, concert-goers can hear another of Carlo Bergonzi’s fine instruments in the capable care of Rose Hsien, the Taiwanese soloist, when she plays with at the Havant Chamber Orchestra concert at Ferneham Hall, Fareham, in the evening of Saturday 19 May.

Beautiful, talented and twenty-something, Rose will play Mozart’s Violin Concerto No in G and a Romance for Violin and Orchestra by Dvorak. With a host of prizewinning achievements to her credit including those from the Yehudi Menuhin, Tchaikovsky and Debussy international competitions, she’s sure to bring out the best in the Bergonzi.

There are two other knockout numbers on the HCO’s programme at Ferneham Hall.  Dvorak’s Czech Suite in D Major and Mozart’s Symphony No 38 in D. That gives three of the evening’s works a distinct Prague connection. Dvorak was born near there and Mozart’s symphony was premiered there in 1787.

The Czech Suite contains a fiery Bohemian dance called a furiant. This may give the audience all the heady atmosphere of a wild stag weekend in Prague without the subsequent hangover.

Tickets are on sale at Ferneham Hall Box Office (01329 231942) or via http://www.fernehamhall.co.uk.


Visit of Orchestra Allegro Moderato to the UK, 26 May 2018

Excitement is mounting in the south of England over the impending visit of Orchestra Allegro Moderato (OAM) from Milan.

This renowned Italian orchestra includes young adult musicians with physical and mental disabilities. They are coming to Putney in London to perform with their friends from Hampshire’s own Charity Symphony Orchestra (CSO) on Saturday 26 May this year.

The CSO is based in the Solent area and draws amateur musicians from several local orchestras such as those of Chichester, Petersfield and the Meon Valley. Other players come from London and further afield in the UK.

“We’ve played in Milan with OAM before and had a wonderful time making music together. We intend to make our Italian friends very welcome indeed,” said Craig Lawton, Director and Conductor of the CSO from Southampton. “The last time we played we raised money to help their worthy cause. Over the years the CSO, as its name implies, has raised thousands of pounds for charity. This year we will be playing Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Suite and music from the ballet Rodeo by Aaron Copland.  We will also hope to play a special musical arrangement for the two orchestras,” he added.

The Charity Symphony Orchestral Manager Harriet Carey is putting together a full ensemble for the occasion. “We hope to have over fifty experienced amateur musicians from Hampshire and London playing at the concert including a harp and a piano,” she said. “I am a flautist but if we’re short, I may have to play a percussion instrument like the triangle or something,” she joked. “We could do with at least one more clarinettist.”

“We in the British-Italian Society are very interested in this concert and some of our members will be attending it. It’s such a good initiative,” said Elisabetta Murgia, the Membership and Events Secretary of the Society. Since its formation in 1941, the British-Italian Society has worked to promote knowledge and understanding in the UK of Italian culture.

The visit has already been mentioned on Classic FM and music by Rossini has been played as a treat for the Milanese visitors.

The venue for the concert is Saint Mary’s Church at the southern end of Putney Bridge which crosses the River Thames. This historic place of worship was built in the 13th century.  During the English Civil War, the headquarters of Oliver Cromwell’s army was briefly located at Putney.  The Church was at the centre of a turning point in British history as meetings of Cromwell’s Army Council held discussions which laid down plans for the future government of the realm.


Preview: Gala Choral Concert – A performance of British Choral Music

Chichester Chorale will be joined by the University of Chichester Chamber Choir and the University Otter Consort for a night of British choral music on Saturday, April 28 at 7.30pm at St George’s Church, Whyke, Chichester.

All three choirs, totalling around 75 voices, will combine for the iconic Mass in G minor by Vaughan Williams in a programme which will also include Holst, Balfour Gardiner, Elgar and Stanford.

Read more at the link below.


Preview: Solent Male Voice Choir in hospice fundraiser

Solent Male Voice Choir returns to concert action on Saturday, April 28 at Southbourne to raise funds for the St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester Dreambuilding project.

Spokesman David Stretton said: “A whacking 86 percent of the £15.5 million building cost has been raised and the framework of the new £15.5m hospice is rising too at the top end of Walton Lane, Bosham. Read more at the link below.


Preview: Spirit of Music Festival

Held mainly in the spring each year, in Liss and Petersfield, the Festival aims to ‘Create, Nurture and Inspire’ across a broad range of musical styles and mediums by holding concerts, talks and workshops which are fully inclusive.

This year’s Festival runs from 28 April to 6 May.

The area is blessed with a large number of expert and professional musicians, many with international reputations, and the common desire is to share good music in a way which can be enjoyed by everybody.

Local composers are encouraged and showcased, music students share their learning, and both children and adults can participate in enjoyable workshops to gain new experiences in making music under the guidance of enthusiastic experts.

Equally, people who just want to hear good music played brilliantly in concerts which are both local and inexpensive, are delighted with what is on offer every year.

See our Concerts and Workshops page for details of this year’s events: https://www.spiritofmusicfestival.org.uk/concerts-workshops.

Saturday, 28th April, 2018

To open the annual Spirit of Music Festival, St Peter’s Church in The Square, Petersfield, will host to two free concerts and a workshop on Saturday.

In the lunchtime concert at 1:00pm, the renowned Parnassian Ensemble with Sara Deborah Timossi (violin), recent winner of the International Bonporti Competition, will explore Handel’s music alongside that of composers with whom he was associated.  Pieces by Telemann, Quantz, Croft and of course the great man himself. Free entry, with a retiring collection.

At 3:00pm, there is a ‘Come & Sing’ event, open to all choral singers, to learn the five Spirituals from Sir Michael Tippett’s A Child of Our Time.  This will be led by Mark Biggins, chorus-master of the English National Opera.  Participants can register by email via petersfieldchoir@gmail.com.  The fee is £10 to include music hire.  Participants will then be able to sing the Spirituals with the choir and orchestra during the evening performance of the whole work.

Then, the big event is at 7:30pm, when The Petersfield Choir and the Southdowns Camerata and four professional soloists, under the baton of Mark Biggins, perform A Child of Our Time in concert.  British composer Sir Michael Tippett’s oratorio was written against the background of World War Two.  It contains a strongly pacifist message that emphasises the need of inner healing and reconciliation to overcome hatred and violence.  Its timeless philosophy is carried by a music of transcendental beauty that is powerful, fragile and intensely moving.  Also in the programme is the lively and joyful Danzon No. 2 by Marquez. Admission free with retiring collection. See concert page.

Sunday, 29th April

At 4:00pm, there is a workshop in St Mary’s Church, Liss for all instrumentalists of any ability, led by the ZRI team…see below.  Come and learn some gypsy-swing rhythms!

At 6:00pm is the ZRI Concert: ‘Cellar Sessions’ …combining the raucous energy of an impromptu pub session with the style and sophistication of the concert hall.  Once again, the gypsy-jazz treatment will delight you!

Monday, 30th April

At 7:30pm in The United Reformed Church Hall, Petersfield (opposite The Good Intent pub) renowned film-maker, John Bridcut, will be showing his film The Passions of Vaughan Williams, revealing much of the composer’s musical and private life.  Not to be missed!

And there’s more on the following weekend of 5th / 6th May!  See www.spiritofmusicfestival.org.uk for full details.

 


Preview: Petersfield Choir – A Child of our Time by Michael Tippett

The Petersfield Choir is pulling out all the stops here, with an augmented choir, an augmented SouthDowns Camerata symphony orchestra and four professional soloists – performing one of the most iconic choral works of the 20th Century.

It’s a moving and profound story of inner healing and reconciliation overcoming hatred and violence. Written against the background of the Second World War, its message is equally relevant today, and its timeless philosophy is carried by music of transcendental beauty which is both fragile and powerful.

A rare opportunity to experience this masterpiece, not to be missed. Also in the programme: Arturo Marquez ‘Danzon No. 2’.


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Festival of Chichester set to launch on 16 June 2018

Now one of the biggest arts festivals in the south, Chichester celebrates music, literature, talks, art exhibitions, theatre, walks, film and more. Click the links below to access details of the 51 classical music concerts and recitals.


‘Messiah’ like no other will be an inspirational evening

A production of Handel’s Messiah ‘like no other’ is the promised post-Easter treat for a Petersfield audience. Twelve professional singers sometimes sit with the audience or lean against pillars. They portray strangers seeking spiritual comfort in their struggle to understand the world.

Read more at the link below.


British Double Reed Society Day – 14 April

As advertised on Classic FM, this year is the year of the bassoon. Up and down the UK there are concerts featuring the bassoon and other double reed instruments like the oboe and Cor Anglais. The British Double Reed Society, which is a registered charity (no1080461), acts as a forum for debate and the exchange of ideas and advice for all double reed instrument players.

A BDRS Double-Reed Day is being held at Park Place, Wickham on Saturday 14 April 2018. It lasts from 10.00am till 5.30pm. It’s a great treat for bassoonists and oboists. A whole host of activities are on offer, such as ensemble playing, recitals, musical advice and encouragement as well as lunch.

Students can take part in sessions as well as brush up their techniques and sight reading. Ample opportunity will exist to rub shoulders with seasoned professional players. There will be trade stands for help and advice on a wide range of instruments. Park Place, which is run by Franciscan nuns, is a calm, rural setting ideal for concentration and musical study. Further information is available on the BDRS website, www.bdrs.org.uk.


Come and ‘Raise the Roof’ singing ‘Jerusalem’!

In celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the death of C H H Parry, Chichester Voices present a concert of Parry’s music, also including music by Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Wesley and Holst.

The concert will be held in St Thomas a Becket Church, Church Lane, Pagham PO21 4NU on Saturday 14th April 2018, 7.30pm.

Directed by Andrew Naylor and accompanied by Richard Copeland, the proceeds will go to ‘Raise the Roof’ for St Thomas a Becket Church. Read more at the link below.


Preview: Portsmouth Light Orchestra’s Spring Concert – 12 May

Musical Director Edward McDermott’s dabs are all over the programme for the Portsmouth Light Orchestra’s Spring Concert. So they should be. The choice of numbers to be played by the forty-strong ensemble reflects his musical background and extremely wide-ranging love of music.

When he was aged four, Ed sat through a recording on an old-fashioned gramophone of the Rite of Spring by the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. He was completely captivated, transfixed and from that moment, his father knew he had a profound love of classical music. After a distinguished career as a Royal Marines Band Service Musician, Ed’s taste in music has broadened out considerably.

Opening the performance at the Admiral Lord Nelson School on Saturday 12th May 2018 is the overture from the Pirates of Penzance.  The music is by Arthur Sullivan. Son of a military band leader and a multi-instrumentalist, the impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte teamed him up with W.S Gilbert who was a clever lyricist. Even though they couldn’t stand each other, it was a winning combination. The Savoy Theatre was built as a venue for this odd couple’s immensely popular comic operas. Despite Sullivan’s classical roots, it’s full of catchy tunes which the audience will love.

Ed McDermott is also an undoubted film buff. The PLO has included much film music in its performances in the past so it’s no surprise to see The Big Country on the menu.  The wide-open spaces feel of the main tune is sandwiched between frenetic fiddle playing in Jerome Moss’ popular work. Ride ‘em cowboys!!

Also of wide appeal is Nessun Dorma by Giacomo Puccini. Probably the most famous of all opera arias, it was made a global hit by Luciano Pavarotti belting it out at the 1990 FIFA World Cup.  An amusing Clog Dance by Ferdinand Herold will bring a smile to the faces of the audience.  It’s from a ballet called La Fille mal gardee (the Wayward Daughter) and gives PLO’s percussionist David Sherran a brief moment of glory.

There’s a miscellany of Lennon and McCartney tunes written cleverly in the style of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite which will appeal to Beatle fans.  There plenty more good stuff too, including the Evening Prayer by the real German composer Engelbert Humperdinck, not the middle-of-the road balladeer.  This features the fine, harmonious violin playing of the PLO’s leader Jenny Reeves and her violinist desk partner Maddy Lawrence.  There are bits from La Traviata, Bizet’s Symphony in C and much more besides.

So, if it’s variety you’re after put this concert in your diaries now.  Better still, telephone the PLO’s Queen of the Keyboard, Val Loft for tickets on 02392 371135.  Admission is a paltry £8 which includes tea, coffee, soft drink or water and a piece of cake.


Preview: Handel masterpiece for The Chichester Singers

The Chichester Singers offer a programme of Handel, Parry and Duruflé when they perform in Chichester Cathedral on Saturday, March 24 at 7.30pm.

Musical director Jonathan Willcocks said: “The programme combines celebratory baroque music (Handel – Coronation Anthems) with the beautifully-evocative mid-20th century Duruflé – Requiem.

“And we also have an interesting lesser-known piece Hear My Words, Ye People by Parry, to mark the centenary of this fine composer’s death in 1918″.

Read more about the concert at the link below.


Preview: Come & ‘Raise the Roof’ singing ‘Jerusalem’!!

Chichester Voices’ next concert is “I Was Glad”, showcasing the music of Sir Charles Hubert Parry, as it is the centenary of his death this year. ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ and ‘I Was Glad’ will be featured, and as proceeds will go towards the ‘Raise the Roof’ fund to restore the roof at St Thomas a Becket’s Church, the audience will be encouraged to do just that in singing ‘Jerusalem’ !!

The programme also contains music by Parry’s contemporaries, including Elgar’s beautiful ‘Lux Aeterna’, Holst’s ‘Nunc Dimitis’, and ‘Five Mystical Songs’ by Vaughan Williams. Parry’s moving setting of Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the Bar’ will also be a highlight. It promises to be a feast of English choral music at its best and the choir will be conducted, as usual, by Andrew Naylor & accompanied by Richard Copeland.

Read more at the link below.


Preview: Making Waves: “Beyond Music” series

Another musical splash is promised soon in both Petersfield and Buriton.

Last year, popular Russian-born and Liss-based cellist Mikhail Lezdkan set up Making Waves, to promote more chamber concerts in the area, and a recital series called Beyond Music was successfully launched. That series returns in April, with two further Sunday afternoon events, each devoted to popular classical composers.

At Saint Lawrence Catholic Church in Station Road Petersfield, Mikhail is joined on Sunday 8 April by two friends, violinist Oliver Nelson and viola player Iryna Andriyenko, in pieces for strings by Haydn and Beethoven. Also included is a Mozart masterwork: a String Trio which the composer simply called Divertimento. This may have been one of Mozart’s little jokes, the title meant ironically, as the piece has six movements some of which are quite serious! Concert page.

Then on Sunday 22 April at St Mary’s Church in Buriton, the focus switches to Franz Schubert. Selections from the piano and instrumental music will be performed alongside some of his incomparable songs. These will be sung by Portsmouth baritone Alex Poulton.

Mikhail describes this concert as a ‘Schubertiad,’ after the manner of the musical parties often given by Schubert himself, when he played the piano and accompanied many of his friends who were also musicians. Concert page.

Each concert includes readings from prose and poetry of the time; admission is free with a retiring collection, and interval refreshments will be available. Both Sunday concerts begin at 3 p.m.


Preview: Petersfield Orchestra Festival concert 15 March 2018

At Petersfield Orchestra, conductor Mark Biggins has now replaced Robin Browning, who after a dozen years at the helm chose to focus on his personal brainchild, the Són Project, a vision for a professional musical organization in Southampton. After a year-long interregnum, filled with auditions and trial concerts, Mark was established as Robin’s successor, and those present at his inaugural concert last November will surely have been impressed by his explosive Mendelssohn Overture, his dramatic rendering of a little-known Berlioz Cantata, and by his sweeping account of Dvorak’s Seventh Symphony, full of fire and nobility. What will the future bring? The members wait with bated breath ….

Meanwhile, Mark is about to make his first sashay into the arena of the Petersfield Musical Festival. Petersfield Orchestra has performed Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony before, in 1997 and 2005, and slowly over those twenty years this giant work has turned into a repertory piece, for both amateur and professional bands: a point worth mentioning, because there was a time when critics turned up their noses at it, as overly emotional and rambling; and partly as a result, conductors ran scared of its size and difficulty, insisting on cuts. It was André Previn who insisted, in a series of widely-acclaimed performances, that the composer be trusted to know exactly what he was doing! His First Symphony had been a disaster, a few years earlier: some say that the conductor, Alexander Glazunov, was drunk on the podium. Anyway, in order to write that work’s successor, Rachmaninov retreated from Russia to the comfortable surroundings of the then-beautiful city of Dresden, where he had friends and family, and produced a masterpiece. As will surely be evident, on Thursday 15 March, in the Festival Hall.

The concerto is the first of Saint-Saëns’s two for the cello. It is tempting to think of the composer as an ageing Frenchman left behind by the 20th century, but that would be unfair, and there’s a lot more to him than his evergreen Carnival of the Animals. It’s a little-known fact that he wrote one of the first-ever film scores! The concerto is a brilliant showpiece, brimful of tunes and excitement, and it demands considerable virtuosity: which will be doubtless be on display from the soloist. Austen Scully has regularly been guest leader of the cello section of Petersfield Orchestra for several seasons now, brought in on the day to offer guidance and cohesion. He is relishing the chance to step forward into the spotlight, as his solo career is increasingly taking off … he is just back from an arduous tour of China.

And finally, or rather to begin with, there is a wonderful name to conjure with: how would anyone like to be christened Englebert Humperdinck? He (the original one) was a fastidious German composer – who did not write vast amounts of music, but whose masterpiece is an opera, Hansel & Gretel, which has ensured Humperdinck’s immortality from the moment it began life as a Christmas family entertainment for his nephews and nieces. Mark Biggins kicks off Petersfield Orchestra’s Festival concert with the enchanting Prelude to the opera, and he, and it, will doubtless leave the Festival audience agog for what follows: literally, a witches’ brew of frightening forests, gingerbread ovens, all your worst fears of childhood – and of course a happy ending, like all the best stories, and concerts too.


Preview: Bernstein’s Centenary performance by oldest student society at Portsmouth University

In the 100th anniversary year of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, and sixty years after it debuted on Broadway, a show that has thrilled generations around the world is being staged by an all-student cast and crew in Portsmouth.

Bernstein was just three years old when the University of Portsmouth Dramatic & Musical Society (UPDMS) was formed, and it is thus the oldest such society in the south, with over 90 years of history staging shows for audiences in Portsmouth and beyond.

This year they’re raising their game significantly to stage West Side Story, a musical renowned for high-energy dancing, some of the most memorable songs in stage history and one of the biggest, most complex shows ever staged by any theatre group.

West Side Story was written 60 years ago by the world-renowned Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim. A modernised re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in 1950s New York, West Side Story tells the story of two rival gangs – the Jets and the Sharks – who are fighting over territory on the streets of the West Side. After Tony, the ex-leader of the Jets, meets Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks, at the highly-anticipated dance; it is love at first sight but all kinds of trouble ensues.

The 40 plus cast is made up of students from across the university, including those studying Law, Marine Biology and English Literature as well as Musical Theatre and Drama.

Originally choreographed by Jerome Robbins, West Side Story is famous for its fizzing dance routines. The society’s performance is filled with new routines choreographed by four of the university’s Musical Theatre students – Eleanor Harvey, Jessica Lavis, Imogen Slade and Rosie Walton.

One stunningly put-together dance routine to look out for is ‘America’, where Anita tries to convince her friend Rosalia that living in America is more enjoyable than living in their native Puerto Rico.

These dance routines are paired with both tense and uplifting scenes produced by Jack Usherwood, a third year Musical Theatre student who hopes to go into the directing and creative side of theatre after graduating this year.

Jack, who has had an interest in music and theatre for ten years, said about the show that “West Side Story has been a completely new and thoroughly enjoyable challenge”. He also said that “this version of the musical will present the classic story in a different way to that staged before, with a twist on the famous ballet sequence”.

Jack’s artistic vision for the ballet sequence involves using set, lighting and actors to transcend the audience through the night in a way that allows them to see the peace of Tony and Maria while simultaneously understanding the conflict of the gangs in New York City.

The lead role of Maria is played by Sara Shuhaiber, first year Musical Theatre student from Kuwait, who said “I am so looking forward to playing such an iconic role on stage. I’ve been having a wonderful time rehearsing and am very excited to see how the show will turn out. I hope everyone will enjoy it as much as I enjoy being part of our brilliant cast!”

Cast members to look out for are Tony, played by Thomas Rogers, Riff, played by Bradley Curran, Bernardo, played by James Cronin and Anita, played by Zara Lackenby-Brown.

The show’s performances will be at 7:30pm on Thursday 8, Friday 9 and Saturday 10 March as well as a matinee performance at 2:30pm on the Saturday at the New Theatre Royal, Guildhall Walk. Tickets will cost £11-15 with £2 off for students.


Preview: University of Portsmouth Choir Chichester Psalms Concert

The award-winning University of Portsmouth Choir will be singing the Chichester Psalms to celebrate 100 years since Leonard Bernstein’s birth.

The Choir, which recently scooped the Best Classical award at The News Guide Awards for its performance of The Messiah in March last year, will pay tribute to the legendary composer with a rendition of one of his greatest works.

The concert, which takes place in St Mary’s Church, Fratton on Saturday 17th March at 7:30pm, will also feature Janacek’s Otcenas in its original Czech and Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man as the Choir sings an exciting array of choral repertoire.

Choir conductor, Dr George Burrows, says the four psalm texts of the Chichester Psalms, which is sung in Hebrew, is “at once modernistic, powerful, dance-like, melodic and beautiful.”

By comparison, Janacek’s setting of the Lord’s Prayer Otcenas is just as distinctive and modern, but it was written some 60 years before Bernstein’s work and the musical language is more sparse and more Slavic.

Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man is the most contemporary of the trio. Written in 1999 it draws on the French song “L’homme armé” for inspiration and positions ancient devotional music by the likes of Palestrina within a decidedly contemporary-but-accessible idiom.

Choir manager Rebecca Holder says: “the concert is going to be amazing. We’ve got a really talented choir who cannot wait to sing these great pieces.”


Preview: Havant Symphony Orchestra Spring Concert – Liszt, Dvorak and Mussorgsky

The Havant Symphony Orchestra’s next concert is at 7.30pm on Saturday 17 March at Oaklands School, Waterlooville. Despite it being the evening of St Patrick’s Day there won’t be a shamrock, leprechaun or shillelagh in sight. Hopefully, the Beast from the East and Storm Emma will have blown themselves through by then. However, concert-goers can revel in the stirring music of Eastern Europe. Liszt, Dvorak and Mussorgsky are on the menu. There’s also a piece by that Yorkshireman, Frederick Delius, to bring classical music lovers closer to home. Musical director and conductor Jonathan Butcher certainly knows how to put a decent programme together for the HSO.

As an opening number, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 will make the audience sit up and take notice. It’s well known and has been arranged and re-arranged many times for background music to Daffy Duck and Mickey Mouse cartoons, Agatha Christie films, Vaudeville frolics and circus performances. The orchestral version still remains the best for sheer excitement. It sounded great in rehearsals and without a doubt HSO will do it justice on the night.

Dvorak’s Violin Concerto comes next. HSO is lucky to get the soloist Alexander Sitkovetsky. He’s got a fine reputation and is in great demand. Always on the go, he’s played with orchestras or with his piano trio in Russia, the land of his birth, Lithuania, Holland, Sweden, Australia, New York and Wales. He’s currently touring around Hull, Sheffield and Middlesboro. Later this year he’s off to the Far East.

Dvorak composed this work hoping it would be played by the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim who was a pal of Johannes Brahms. But the Hungarian virtuoso had reservations about the work and never actually performed it. None the less the concerto is considered an important work in top violinists’ repertoires. Alexander Sitkovetsky is renowned for his incandescent bowing, speedy left hand and ferocious attacks. Stand by for fireworks.

Frederick Delius’ “The Walk to the Paradise Garden” is a complete contrast. Taken from the comic opera “A Village Romeo and Juliet”, the intermezzo has endured even though the opera was not a great success. This beautiful piece will be conducted by Richard Miller who is the current holder of the Bob Harding Bursary which was set up to give budding conductors experience of conducting.

The evening’s finale is “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky. Composed in 1874 as a piano piece for virtuosi, this was wonderful work was arranged for orchestra by many composers. The HSO will play the celebrated version created by Maurice Ravel.

The whole thing is an ingenious idea, portraying visitors at an art exhibition strolling from picture to picture. This promenade keeps recurring as they pass the weird and wonderful artworks. Mussorgsky must have let his sometimes vodka-fuelled imagination run riot for the pictures range from an ugly gnome, a hut on hens’ legs which is a Russian fairy tale about a witch, chickens dancing in their shells, two Jews walking in deep conversation and so forth right through to the majestic Great Gate of Kiev. It’ll be a thunderous end to a great evening.


Portsmouth Festival Choir to perform a lesser-known work by Handel

Portsmouth Festival Choir is recognised for its innovative programming. This year its Musical Director, conductor-composer Tom Neal, has discovered a version of the Easter Passion of Christ, written by that favourite of oratorio composers, Handel.  Because the Bach Passions are so frequently performed at Easter, this beautiful work has been somewhat overlooked.  However, it has now been published in a new edition, researched by internationally known tenor soloist and musicologist, Neil Jenkins.

Choir members are very excited that Neil Jenkins himself will sing the lead role of the Evangelist in their performance of this work on Sunday 18th March 2018. The music is completely new to all the members of the choir, but because they are familiar with Handel’s style from singing the ever-popular Messiah, they are enjoying rehearsing music which while quite new to them seems strangely familiar.

For this special occasion the choir will be accompanied by the Chichester-based early music group, the Consort of Twelve. It is an ensemble of musicians from Hampshire and Sussex which specialises in the performance of Baroque music using the styles, techniques and instruments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They too are thrilled to be taking part in this performance of the Handel Passion.

Neil Jenkins as the Evangelist will narrate the story of the Passion of Christ.  The story is dramatically re-enacted by the choir who act as the chorus of citizens of Jerusalem and by six brilliant young soloists from the Royal College of Music who will take on the roles of the leading actors in this account of Christ’s crucifixion.


Preview: Dutch Renaissance Masters concert

“Dutch Renaissance Masters – glittering choral treasures from the time of Breughel” is the title of a concert to be given by The Renaissance Choir on 24 March at 7.30pm in St Peter’s Church, Petersfield.

The main composer to feature is Orlando di Lasso, a Franco-Flemish composer of the late Renaissance.

As with Renaissance painters, light and shade are familiar themes in Lassus’ writing, at one moment shadowing the listener in darkness, only to burst into joyous light in the next.

In order to provide balance to the intense beauty of the sacred pieces being sung, the choir will also sing some of the jaunty secular pieces commonly heard across Northern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Clarinet and Piano Monington Duo will provide further contrast to the programme, with music from The Netherlands. Clarinettist Rob Blanken is a widely respected player with Dutch origins; his partner, Karen Kingsley, is The Renaissance Choir’s favourite concert pianist.

Read more about the concert at the link below.


Preview: Portsmouth Philharmonic Spring Charity Concert on 4 March

An evening rehearsal with Portsmouth Philharmonic is enough to convince anyone that this ensemble’s concerts are worth going to.  They’re a hard-working bunch. Not a second is wasted during their two-hour practice sessions. Musical director, Hugh Carpenter, a man gripped by attention to detail, does not let a dodgy flat or sharp pass without putting it right. So the ensemble is moving meticulously towards its next performance at the Church of the Resurrection in Drayton. The concert is scheduled to start at 3.00pm on Sunday 4 March.  Never lacking in ambition, this orchestra’s concert programme is chock full of musical gems.

Johannes Brahms’ Academic Overture is a treat. Having refused an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University in 1877 because he didn’t fancy travelling to England, that old joker, Brahms rubbed salt into the wound by accepting an honorary degree from the University of Breslau and writing this work for it in 1880.  However, hidden in the glorious, joyful music are snatches of risky student drinking songs.  That didn’t go down too well with of learned professors. In rehearsal, Portsmouth Philharmonic is playing this with absolute gusto.

Franz Schubert’s Symphony No 8, the Unfinished, is not to be missed either. In 1822 Schubert wrote only two movements. After setting it aside for a bit, he sent it to his friend Anselm Huttenbrenner. Huttenbrenner stuffed it in a drawer and didn’t pass it on to a conductor in Vienna till 1865.  Complete or not, some would consider this to be up among one of Schubert’s finest works. Several years ago the orchestra played this number. Now it’s sounding better than ever.

Lovers of Baroque music will enjoy Johan Sebastian Bach’s Double Violin Concerto. The Orchestra’s leader Colin Wilkins and first desk violinist Trudy McNiven will play the slow movement of this lovely work. With minimal backing from the rest of the strings, the basic theme is interwoven and passed seamlessly back and forth between the lead two instruments. It’s far from easy to get both the violins to sound like echoes of each other but, no doubt, Colin and Trudy will pull this off with their usual mastery.

Also on the bill is Karl Jenkins’ Palladio. With its insistent, rhythmic beat creating mounting excitement, it’s a musical lollipop if ever there was one.

The wind section of the orchestra will be given its moment of glory when it plays Carl Maria Frederick Ernst von Weber’s Concertino for oboe and winds. This features Wendy Carpenter, the conductor’s wife. A very accomplished oboist, Wendy also plays in the Charity Symphony Orchestra and the renowned Chichester Orchestra.  Doubtless, the work is in experienced, safe hands.

This concert is really shaping up to be something special.  For a paltry £5, which goes to the Rheumatology Department of QA Hospital, it certainly is value for money.


Preview: Music of mourning and Tranquillity

“Music of mourning and Tranquillity” is the title of the concert to be given by the gemini consort on 3 March at 7.30pm in St Peter’s Church, Petersfield.

The concert is full of heart-rending, poignant music by such well-loved composers as Bach, Handel and Fauré, and includes part of the latter’s ever-popular Requiem.

There are also vocal solos and duets and music for recorder and clarinet.

Admission is free and that the retiring collection will be given to The Rosemary Foundation.


Havant Music Festival set to return in March

A music festival is set to return next month offering a variety of different genres to tickle everyone’s fancy. The Havant Music Festival will showcase 24 events over 10 days (March 15-25), including three orchestras, six choirs, an Abba tribute which has already sold out and an evening with upcoming young acts. See http://www.havantmusicfestival.org.uk for more info.

Read more in The News at the link below.


The Solent Male Voice Choir to perform at the Havant Music Festival

The eight tower bells will be ringing out from 7.30 pm. to 8.00 pm. to welcome the Solent Male Voice Choir, guests and audience to a Havant Music Festival concert, followed by refreshments.

The Bosmere School Choir (Year 3) Children will be singing 2 or 3 songs and the soloist will be Michael Winter, Organist & Director of Music at St. Andrew’s, West Tarring, who is also Assistant Musical Director and Accompanist to The Solent Male Voice Choir.

The President of The Choir is Canon Tom Kennar, Rector of Havant and the Musical Director is Geoffrey Porter. The Choir rehearses every Tuesday evening from 7.30 to 9.30 pm. at The Pallant Centre, The Pallant, Havant. New members are always welcome. Please visit the SMVC website for further info.


Support for the Meon Valley Orchestra’s debut, solo performance

Despite beavering away on affairs of state, three extremely busy local Members of Parliament have found time to voice their support for the Meon Valley Orchestra’s debut, solo performance. The MVO’s concert is at 7.30pm on Saturday 10 March 2018 at the United Reformed Church, 18 Osborne Road South, Fareham, PO17 7UD.

All funds raised will go to the UK Gout Society.

Caroline Dinenage, MP for Gosport and Minister of State for Health and Social Care wished the MVO the very best of luck and hoped for a successful charity concert for a very worthy cause.

Suella Fernandes, MP for Fareham and Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, hoped that the event would be well supported by the local community, friends and family. She is aware that one in forty people suffer from gout which is a widely misunderstood condition.

George Hollingbery, MP for Meon Valley, thinks it’s wonderful that the MVO began with a handful of folk musicians in Meonstoke and blossomed into a light classical orchestra which has much to offer the cultural life in the Meon Valley and beyond. He wished their forthcoming performance the very best of luck.

The Meon Valley Orchestra’s concert is unique because concert-goers can choose in advance what they wish to hear on the night. They are invited to select their three favourite pieces from the following list.

The Big Country by Jerome Moss, Barber of Seville by Gioacchino Rossini, Crown Imperial by Edward Elgar, On Hearing the First Cuckoo of Spring by Frederick Delius, Dambusters’ March by Eric Coates, Dance of the Hours by Amilcare Ponchielli, English Folk Song Suite as well as Fantasia on Greensleeves both by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Jupiter by Gustav Holst, Marche Slave by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Nocturne by Felix Mendelsshon, Skyfall by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth, Pink Panther by Henry Mancini, Redetzky March by Johann Strauss, the Toreador’s Song by George Bizet and Sailing By written by Ronald Binge.

If you would like to come to the concert please send your music choices to stuartreed28@gmail.com giving your name and telephone number. Tickets are £10 each including sumptuous refreshments.

The UK Gout Society is the only charity solely dedicated to raising awareness of this most painful type of arthritis and providing support and information to people living with it. For further information on gout please visit the website at www.ukgoutsociety.org.


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