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

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra returns with 12 symphonic concerts this autumn

The BSO is returning to the stage with a series of live broadcast performances from Lighthouse, Poole this autumn.

The Orchestra’s Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits, will open the series of socially distanced performances, with concerts running from 30 September to 16 December 2020.

Read more at the link below.

Zoom – My Lockdown Lifeline

It seems like a lifetime ago when Covid-19 plunged us all into isolation, quarantine, lockdown or whatever you call this reclusive condition.

Uppermost in my mind was how would I keep up with my regular violin lessons. I prefer to have a schedule and deadlines to work to.

Thankfully, the problem was solved by my neighbour’s son Jack. Jack is a bright lad who’s reading English at Oxford. He posted notes through letterboxes around our close inviting the little community to join in a weekly quiz via Zoom. With some help from the computer-literate people next door we joined in and the online quiz has been going on ever since.

At the very same time my violin teacher, Peter Best, came up with the idea of regular lessons on Zoom. Before retirement, Peter was Director of Musical Training at the Royal Marines School of Music. He’s a superb violinist and a knowledgeable and patient teacher. Because we have been desk partners in the Portsmouth Light Orchestra and the Meon Valley Orchestra he knew all my considerable faults already.

Lessons by Zoom have proved to be very useful indeed for both of us. He can see and hear me and vice versa. If I stand at the right distance in front of my laptop he can see immediately if my posture is not one hundred per cent correct. Dropped wrists or wrongly raised elbows are starkly revealed.

By having his own copy or the music in front of him he can also spot any discrepancies between what I’m playing and what is actually written. Although the tonal quality is not absolutely perfect it’s good enough for Peter to pick out when any notes are not as in tune as they should be. Conversely, he can demonstrate how things should sound on his own instrument.

For some inexplicable reason, Zoom seems to bring everything into sharper focus than reality itself. It’s a very business-like arrangement. However, the use of video does not allow us the play duets as the sounds are out of synchrony. It’s a shame, as this is something we both enjoyed. This is the only drawback I can find with Zoom.

It’s about ten miles from my home in Fareham and my teacher’s house in Southsea. So, from now on there’ll be no worries about traffic or parking. Until the “all clear” from this dreadful virus is sounded I’ll continue to learn and, hopefully, improve through Zoom.

Conclusions from research on virtual rehearsals

Please read this post for the background to the project.

Click this link to read my conclusions from research on virtual rehearsals paper. I trust that these insights are useful for singers and instrumentalists alike, and look forward to continuing the discussion.

In addition, Making Music has written these very helpful notes:

Here’s another article that caught my eye:

Choral ballads and difficult discussions: Approaching anti-racism in choral culture

In January 2020, I started preparing the University of Portsmouth’s choirs for a concert called Songs of Pride, Freedom and Resistance: Decolonising Choral Culture but I was not at all prepared for the protracted and important debate about racism and white privilege that it would ignite amongst our choir.

Coronavirus and the lockdown of the university put paid to the concert but, to my mind, the discussion provoked by the programming is one that everyone involved in choral music should be having and one that has become all the more urgent with the death of George Floyd and the emergence of antiracist campaigns like Black Lives Matter. I want to share some of that debate with you in the spirit of encouraging an anti-racist choral culture in Portsmouth and beyond. First, I should set the scene.

I am a 44-year-old white-European male conductor and academic who became interested in connections between music and concepts of race during my postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the early 2000s. My PhD (2010) was about figures in jazz culture, like Duke Ellington, who led famous bands and wrote music for those ensembles that represented black history and experience as an act of race pride.

I went on to write a book, The Recordings of Andy Kirk and His Clouds of Joy (2019), which aimed to show how Kirk’s band defied expectations of what an all-black ensemble should sound like and thereby challenged the racism that prevailed in recording and dance-hall cultures of the interwar period. So, it was perhaps inevitable that I would bring such academic interests into my choral direction work but, as we will see, my own identity makes such an enterprise problematic in itself.

The programme I devised for the aborted concert was founded on the Choral Ballads by the black-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912), who is best known in choral circles for his trilogy of works that includes Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast (1898). Coleridge-Taylor composed a set of three Choral Ballads for his 1904 trip to the US to conduct the Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society of Washington DC. Later, he expanded that set to five for the 1905 Norwich Festival and also reworked one of the original movements for female voices and baritone soloist.

All of this music is very well written for choir, with orchestra and soloist. Unlike much of Coleridge Taylor’s other choral writing, which tends to be mostly homophonic, it makes really good use of counterpoint but is nonetheless tuneful and accessible. In many ways, it is a fantastic choice for any mixed-ability choir like ours and a great opportunity to introduce them and an audience to a great black-British composer.

The Choral Ballads are all settings of anti-slavery poetry written 1842 by the white-American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). Despite their noble intentions, however, the ballads are not without their problems: the lyrics include words used to describe black figures that are now considered highly problematic, albeit archaic, and the exoticism in the musical language is as much rooted in the colonial past. However, it was the words of the Choral Ballads that sparked the debate about whether and how we should perform these works and others in the programme. Here, for reasons of clarity, is a quotation of Longfellow’s text from the opening bars of the third ballad:

Loud he sang the Psalm of David!
He, a Negro, and enslavèd,
Sang of Israel’s victory,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.

To some extent, I had anticipated the debate about the text as I had prepared a presentation about the Choral Ballads which put the language issues in the context of their time and I offered a number of options for the choir to consider. These included, not performing the work at all, acknowledging the historical context and keeping the language as it is, or changing the language as a political act of decolonisation. What I hadn’t anticipated was the way that these options split the choir into factions that each felt very strongly that we should or should not change the language or else not perform the pieces at all.

I tried, as best I could, to please everyone by suggesting in a follow-up presentation that we could overlay words in a glorious and performative cacophony so that singers could make their own decisions but, in retrospect, I can see why that proved unacceptable for some, especially coming from me. On hearing my suggestion, one of our black students stated that if we used the problematic words at all she would leave the rehearsal in offense.

Another was clearly tearful as she explained that she felt she was being told what to do by yet another white figure of power, when her life was full of that sort of experience. That depth of feeling shocked me and I suddenly became aware of my own white privilege and the impossibility of me, in my situation of power, leading us to an agreeable solution on my own. I needed help to get a decision and that lay in much better dialogue both with and between our singers about these issues.

As I realised that I could and should not just impose my will over the choir, we had several meetings in which we discussed the programme and the issues of racial representation that were bound up with its performance. Several of our white singers were of the view that we, as a majority white choir, had no business in performing this repertoire but our black students spoke very passionately about the importance of engaging with such music and pointed to the prevailing problem of white fragility (DiAngelo, 2018) when it comes to addressing such issues.

I also felt that not to perform the work would make us complicit in a long history of effectively, if unconsciously, whitewashing the choral repertoire. There were those that argued that history, however distasteful, cannot be changed and thus the original words of the Choral Ballads should remain but, in the end, we agreed that changing the text marked an important act of de-colonialism and anti-racism. Thus, the passage above became:

Loud he sang the Psalm of David!
He, a brother but enslavèd,
Sang of Israel’s victory,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.

It was an often-difficult and time-consuming discussion but it was one of paramount importance because it caused us all to reflect on how choral-society culture is essentially racist in the way it tends to avoid such matters by effectively excluding black repertoire (apart from the odd token such as Hiawatha) and those who would identify with it. There were some within our choir who despaired that we ‘wasted’ time on this discussion, when there was music to learn, and they urged me to use my power put a stop to it.

That conception of white privilege is, however, a part of the problem and if we are to embrace the challenges set by the Black Lives Matter campaign and dismantle racist structures in choirs as much as in every other part of society, then we need to be brave and have these difficult conversations around such problematic repertoire as a matter of course.

Embracing works like the Choral Ballads and the sorts of discussions about racism that they motivate is but the beginning of a much longer and more difficult journey that will surely challenge many of the established basic principles of ‘good’ choral practice. Such principles include treating the conductor (as much as the composer) as some sort of power-wielding white male god, considering musical rehearsal as more valuable than the discussion of deep ethical issues, and valuing history and traditions of practice and rigour as more important than the rights and feelings of those who are negatively affected by the exercising of white privilege and power. If choirs everywhere took time to reflect on such things and took steps to address them, we would quickly establish a much more inclusive and anti-racist culture.

Dr George Burrows is Reader in Performing Arts and Faculty Research Degrees Coordinator at the University of Portsmouth.

Chichester Music Society Autumn Programme

I am delighted to announce that CMS is proposing to run our Autumn Season as planned, including an additional event on Tuesday 29th September. The University recently informed us that the Chapel, our usual performance space, would be available and that the University is intending to live-stream all events. The Chapel lends itself to social distancing so we are hoping that by the Autumn there will be an audience present. In any event, we intend to go ahead with or without an audience, depending on Government guidelines. Further details will be made available in due course.

This is an excellent outcome for CMS as it means that members and friends who felt anxious could watch from home, or everyone could if only small audiences were allowed in the performance space at first.

In my last CMS Update I announced that we had re-arrange the lecture/recital with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars to Tuesday 29th September. Unfortunately due to changes in their tour planning the duo are not able to come on that occasion and we will be seeing them next year. However, I am delighted to be able to confirm that Erin Alexander who was due to give our Summer Buffet Concert on 10th June will now be performing on that date. Further details of our first two Autumn events are shown below.

Finally, do take a look at our updated website! We are in the process of making the site consistent with our new CMS image and at the same time introducing new areas which we hope will be of interest to old and new members alike. Please let me have your views and suggestions.

Do look after yourselves over the coming months and try to avoid any unnecessary risks!

Next event 9th September

Pavlos Carvalho, Bach Cello Suites

Pavlos Carvalho is probably best known to CMS members as the cellist with Ensemble Reza. However, he is a distinguished soloist and his recitals of the Bach Cello Suites have become something of a special feature of the Festival of Chichester. Anyone fortunate enough to attend the concerts at St John’s Chapel will need no encouragement to come and hear him at the University.

In addition to fine musicianship, when talking about these wonderful pieces he is able to add many insights which bring them to life. In an interview with Phil Hewitt which appeared in the Mid Sussex Times a few years ago, he noted that “You get into the mind frame if you play Bach. There is perhaps a difficulty particularly with the awareness of period performance, but for me, whether consciously or unconsciously, it is all about the clarity of the voicing. Even when he is writing for the cello, he is writing for different voices, and the challenge is to make the voicing clear. If you look at the score, you are faced with a barrage of notes. You have to find out which ones are of primary importance, which ones of secondary importance. The idea is to put in that hard work so the end result appears simple. But you will always see new things. You can spend your entire life trying to find out the definitive version, but you won’t. That’s both the joy and the frustration!”

This is a great opportunity to hear him in this remarkable music.

Tuesday 29th September, Erin Alexander: “On a High Note”

This concert, postponed from 10th June, will be a special event, with the return of Chichester University graduate and Award-winning soprano Erin Alexander, and pianist Nick Miller, presenting “On a High Note”, the story of soprano Graziella Sciutti. The singer was a contemporary of Maria Callas, and helped pioneer the movement of opera singers becoming actors. Erin will sing the arias by Mozart, Verdi, and Rossini which made Sciutti’s career.

Erin Alexander has recently finished studying on a full scholarship at the Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini. Whilst there she performed the roles of Despina (Cosi fan Tutte) and Rosina (Il Barbiere di Seviglia).

Tune in to BSO@Home

Join the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from the comfort of your home for a weekly series of artist-led magazine programmes. These regular discussions feature some of the Orchestra’s favourite guest soloists and conductors in conversation as they chat about their musical highlights and appearances with the BSO.

Click the link at the bottom of this page for further info.

You can donate on this page also. We believe that music has the power to transform lives and should be accessible to everyone. Every donation helps to spread the gift of music. Thank you!

Next time: Wednesday 22 July, 7.30pm
2019/20 Artist-in-Residence Gabriela Montero talks to Dougie Scarfe this week: they discuss the communicative power of live performance, her incredible journey into music, and her work in providing a platform for her fellow Venezuelans. Music includes Rachmaninov, Mozart and improvisations by Montero.

Previous episodes

Wednesday 15 July
Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor shares his thoughts, discussing performing both with orchestras and smaller chamber groups as well as his passion for playing Mendelssohn, Chopin and Liszt.

Wednesday 8 July
Clarinettist Andreas Ottensamer catches up with Heather Duncan and chats about his desire to showcase music digitally and how the safe return of live music-making is so important.

Wednesday 1 July
Andrew Burn raids the BSO archive and shares his choices of footage from the past.

Wednesday 24 June
BSO Associate Guest Conductor David Hill talks about life in lockdown and the music that has taken him on a journey through it.

Wednesday 17 June
Kirill Karabits meets up with superstar violinist Nemanja Radulović for an entertaining catch-up chat about life, music and introduces us to an eclectic selection of musical choices.

Wednesday 10 June
Michael Chance talks about his role as Artistic Director of Grange Festival, and the digital projects online including the streaming of the BSO’s Grange concert performance of Bernstein’s sparkling and witty operetta Candide from 2018.

Wednesday 3 June
Marin Alsop talks leadership, how she hopes she can offer opportunties through her Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship and how she took the BSO’s Rusty Musicians project to Baltimore.

Wednesday 27 May
Cellist Johannes Moser, talks about his memories of the great Mstislav Rostropovich, how he feels he is able to give back something to the community and his creative freedom under lockdown.

Wednesday 20 May
Dougie Scarfe gives an update on BSO plans and introduces some digital content from around the internet produced by some well-loved BSO visiting artists.

Wednesday 13 May
Prior to the broadcast of an archive concert from our 2017/18 season on BBC Radio 3 featuring Kirill and Simon Trpčeski performing Elgar, Tchaikovsky and Walton, Kirill reminisces on the occasion.

Wednesday 6 May
Kirill and Dougie discuss the series of recordings of former Soviet Union composers that the BSO is undertaking with Chandos called Voices from the East.

Wednesday 29 April
Kirill and Dougie are joined by pianist Sunwook Kim and talk about all things Beethoven and Sunwook’s help in choosing the BSO’s new Steinway piano.

Wednesday 22 April
Kirill Karabits talks with Dougie Scarfe about his BSO journey to date, from his first foray with British repertoire to releasing a critically acclaimed recording of Walton and finding musical joy.

Shaking off the Lockdown Lethargy

Former violin techniques teacher at the Royal Academy of Music, London, Julia Bishop is to share her considerable experience of playing and performing in an on-line seminar this month. Julia will give helpful advice on approaching a musical work for the first time, what to do if you hit a snag and how to rehearse immediately prior to appearing on stage.

Once a founder member of the celebrated Baroque ensemble, Red Priest, Julia has played as a soloist or leader with top notch orchestras all over the world. The Hanover Band, the English Consort, the Gabrieli Consort, the Brandenburg Consort are just a few.

Some amateur musicians may have been a bit dormant during the months of lockdown. If so, then this seminar is aimed at those in particular. As many of us know, it’s all too easy to slacken off your personal practice when there are no rehearsals or gig deadlines looming. Julia plans to sound a wakeup call for people to get practising in earnest for the time when quartets, orchestras or bands finally reconvene. In short, Julia’s ready to help shake off those lockdown blues.

Although Julia is a strings specialist, her seminar will be of great benefit to all musicians irrespective of which instrument they play and at what level of ability they have attained.

Julia’s seminar will be via Zoom at 11.00am on Thursday 30 July 2020. It will last for about an hour with time for questions. The cost is a paltry £8 per head which can be paid directly to Julia via BACs transfer.

Participants should apply to Julia by email ( giving their names and the instruments they play. Nearer the time Julia will send out invitations and joining instructions to those involved. Don’t delay as this is a golden opportunity to rekindle your enthusiasm.

How can we bring back music groups?

#BringBackMyChoir and #BringBackMyBand campaign has been set up by Making Music UK.

The UK government guidance on reopening the performing arts published on 9 July has caused widespread disappointment, so we are now giving you the tools to make your views heard.

The guidance prohibits amateur groups or groups with amateur participants – unlike professionals – to play or sing together, except in the numbers of people currently allowed to meet in public.

It goes further to say that singing and playing wind and brass instruments isn’t even allowed in those numbers.

Read more at the link below.

Research on virtual rehearsals

I am doing some research on virtual rehearsals on behalf of vocal and instrumental groups in my area. If you already rehearse virtually or have plans to do so, your input would be most gratefully received.

Please email me at or via the contact form, or fill in the form at Please come back to me by Saturday 25 July.

The findings will be published (without mentioning names) on the Noticeboard, for the benefit of all singers and instrumental musicians.

Thank you.

Read the conclusions of the research.

1. What is your group size?
2. Which channel(s) will/do you use (Zoom, Facebook Live, a combination, etc.)?
3. What is the reason for your choice of channel(s)?
4. Do you/will you rehearse in sections or as a whole group?
5. What are the numbers of people that you (will) rehearse with in one session? Have you encountered limitations on the maximum number of people? Please explain why, if you like.

The remainder of the questions assumes that you already have experience of such sessions.
6. How often do you meet for virtual rehearsals?
7. How long do the sessions last?
8. How much time do you allow for breaks, if at all?
9. Do you combine singing/playing sessions with social sessions?
10. What % take-up of your total group have you experienced?
11. What have been the barriers to people getting involved that you have encountered? Access to PCs, etc? The “fear factor”? The limitations of the technology?
12. What do you feel works to keep people “onside”?
13. Are the sessions led by the MD, by another key individual or by individuals working with each other as colleagues, or a mix of these?
14. Do you record the sessions? What do you do with the recordings?
15. Broadly, what works and what (if anything) doesn’t?
16. In these sessions, do you work specifically on vocal or instrumental technique?
17. What else do you focus on?
18. Are you working towards producing performances of complete works as the result of doing virtual rehearsals?
19. Will these be made for public consumption?
20. If so, are you going to use video or just audio?

Please add any other relevant comments or questions. Thank you!

Help with research into safe choir return

Researchers need your input into a survey about safety and risk management for choirs

A team of academics and choir leaders at Brighton and Sussex Medical School is conducting research into helping choirs get back into their regular activities, following coronavirus lockdown.

As well as filling out the survey, the team is also inviting choir members to join them as researchers. If you’re interested, you can fill in your email address at the top of the survey and they will contact you. Or you can leave those fields blank if you’d prefer not to, and you can stay anonymous.

You can also keep up with the research by joining the team’s Facebook group which is automatically open to anyone who has been on Facebook for more than three months.

Click on the link below to complete the survey.

Support the Public Campaign for the Arts!

Something extraordinary just happened.

Against expectations, the government has announced an extensive rescue package for our arts and cultural organisations.

This follows an unprecedented groundswell of public pressure, including 150,000 signatures in support of the Public Campaign for the Arts.

Thanks to the package announced tonight by the government – including £880 million of grants and £270 million of loans in England, plus an extra £97 million, £59 million and £33 million for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively – the cultural sector can begin its journey back to generating £32.3 billion a year for our economy. The arts can help to drive a creative recovery for the UK. And most importantly, they can continue to enrich our communities and all of our lives.

Please see the link below for further info and to read how you can support this initiative.

David Bowerman RIP

Sussex is remembering a “passionate and committed lover” of the arts who created huge opportunities for young and established musicians and artists.

David Bowerman, who has died, was High Sheriff of West Sussex from 1990 to 1991.

He was also the creator of the Music Room at Champs Hill at Coldwaltham – a venue which continues to attract classical musicians from all over the world to the heart of West Sussex. Read about Champs Hill Records.

Read more at the link below.

Open letter: Singing Network UK to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport

An open letter to Oliver Dowden MP, outlining the concerns of the 27 organisations in the Singing Network UK about the return to singing for the 40,000 choirs and their 2.2m participants in the UK.

Read more at the link below.

#SussexTogether – major new arts festival will unite Sussex East and West

A major new Sussex-wide arts festival will capture the spirit of togetherness which is seeing us through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

The new festival will testify to the “talent, strength, endurance and hopes of the people of Sussex in a difficult year,” organisers say.

The festival has been jointly organised by Festival of Chichester committee member The Reverend Canon Dr Dan Inman and Festival Chairman Dr Phil Hewitt.

Read more at the link below.

Accompanist/Assistant Musical Director for the Solent Male Voice Choir

Solent Male Voice Choir has a vacancy for an Accompanist/Assistant Musical Director as from 1st September 2020.

Working closely with our new Musical Director, Huw Thomas, who takes over from Geoff Porter on 1st September, you will accompany practices and concerts. There is an opportunity as Assistant Musical Director to train the Choir in some songs and to conduct a smaller Choir at some private events.

We offer a small remuneration, to cover travelling expenses, for practices and additional payments concerts.

The Choir meets every Tuesday evening between 7.30pm and 9.30pm in Havant. If you are interested in becoming part of a friendly and sociable group who enjoy their singing please send a brief CV to

Giving voice – writing to our MPs to ask the government to stand up for the arts

Making Music Chief Executive, Barbara Eifler, outlines what we can ask MPs to support us with as we return to music-making.

Many of our members picked up on the article by Richard Morrison in last week’s The Times, asking why the government was not standing up for choirs and helping them re-open as the coronavirus lockdown eases. And many got in touch with Making Music about this, intending to write to MPs and other contacts, to try and get the government to focus on the problems facing music groups planning to meet again.

Barbara continues – read more at the link at the bottom of this page.

What can you do?

Now is the moment to write to your MP and ask them for help with these issues. There was a time when leisure-time music may not have been a suitable topic to raise, when the nation’s thoughts were focussed on daily deaths and overstretched keyworkers, but it’s now time to act.

Now that things are improving, those of us who have lived experience of the enormous benefits singing and playing together bring us have a duty, almost, to make sure that groups are able to come together again soon, to heal the souls of our members – and of the nation which has been joining virtual choirs and learning the ukulele while confined to their homes.

Not sure where to start with your letter? Download a brief summary of our submission to the parliamentary inquiry for inspiration: Summary of MM submission to DCMS.

Read a letter that Simon O’Hea (editor of Music in Portsmouth) has written to his MP: Letter to Alan Mak MP about music-making and lockdown
Here is the associated technical paper: The relative risks of inhaling virus-laden air for singers and players

How to get the most out of singing online – a guide for singers

Given that it will be just you singing at a screen, what can you do to get the most out of an online singing session?

It can be scary singing by yourself, especially if you normally sing in a choir. Suddenly you find yourself at home staring at a screen without much feedback and without hearing the other singers.

Read more at the link below.

The Organ Project at St Mary’s Portsea appoints Nicholson & Co. Ltd to restore Victorian heritage

The Organ Project Committee is pleased to announce the appointment of Nicholson & Co. Ltd to deliver its capital works programme to restore awe-inspiring Victorian heritage.

Following a competitive tender process involving four IBO (Institute of British Organ Building) accredited organ builders, a newly signed contract with Nicholson & Co. Ltd will see the dismantlement of the 1889 J.W. Walker & Sons organ at St Mary’s Portsea in November 2020, for restoration and re-dedication in late 2021 (this schedule may be subject to change).

Read more at the link below.

Peter Cropper’s A–Z of chamber music

In this article, first published at ChamberStudio in 2015, the late and much-missed first violinist of the Lindsay String Quartet pulled no punches with his views about music.


Martin Lovett – one of the best quartet players ever – said that it’s very easy to play chamber music. He explained that you sing the tune when you play the accompaniment and you sing the accompaniment when you play the tune. He said that by doing that he could make someone play exactly as he wanted them to. He’s absolutely right.

Read more at the link below.

Reproduced with permission of Elbow Music and ChamberStudio.

Chichester Music Society’s June newsletter

This month’s edition discusses:

• Our excellent start to the year with the Navarra Quartet opening the special season celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Their concert was too early to appear in our new Newsletter and the press review of their outstanding performance.
• The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on our programme. The CMS Committee held a virtual meeting on 4th May & discussed this and the effect on members subscriptions.
• This year’s Summer Buffet Concert which was to mark the launch of CMS will be postponed until June 2021.
• How we are helping to develop the musicians of the future through our bursary scheme, prizes and instrument library.

Intense Navarra!

The Navarra String Quartet opened the Funtington Music Group’s 2020 Programme with a concert at the University of Chichester on 15 January.

The concert opened with a performance of Andreas Romberg’s String Quartet Opus 59 No 2. Romberg was a contemporary of Beethoven, but his music is far from well-known, and is still based in the pre-Beethoven era. However, the piece was more than a suitable introduction to the programme which was commemorating the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and the audience certainly enjoyed the performance.

The Navarra, with Magnus Johnston [violin], Marije Johnston [violin], Sasha Botha [viola], and Brian O’Kane [cello], gave a highly polished interpretation, as the music rotated from the joyous introduction in the first two movements to a melancholic start of the third movement, before it moved into a more romantic phase, and concluded with the capricious finale of the fourth.

The second piece was Three Idylls by Frank Bridge. This English composer wrote the piece in 1906, as a gift to his future wife. Perhaps he was in a melancholy mood as the first two Idylls are rather dark, whereas the last is animated and lifts the entire work out of its moody introspection. The Navarra caught the spirit of the music absolutely and were particularly adept at portraying the transforming emotions from frost and winter in the first two movements, to the sun and summer of the third.

The climax of the evening was a stunning performance of Beethoven’s String Quartet in F, Opus 59, No 1 “Razumovsky”. This was a revolutionary work when first played. Passages of sublime beauty are often offset by rough hews, spectacular fiddling, tension-filled sections, and striking changes in colour and mood. The Navarra were excellent, playing with an energy and intensity where it was particularly noticeable how they listened to each other and responded effectively to the challenging development of the music.

The audience were extremely appreciative, particularly enjoying the final movement, which probably rates as one of Beethoven’s most celebrated. Chris Hough, Chairman of Funtington Music Group, said, “This was an outstanding concert and we are so grateful to the Navarra for their intense and committed playing, and particularly for commemorating Beethoven in such style and in such a memorable manner.”

Chris Linford, 16th January 2020

Chairman’s Blog

The Coronavirus continues to have a major impact on all social activities, especially the performing arts. We unfortunately had to cancel the Student Showcase Competition on 15th April and have made an award to all finalists due to appear. The recital by Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars has been postponed until 29th September. We are postponing our special CMS launch event due to take place on 10th June until 9th June 2021.

We are hopeful that our programme will resume after the summer break. If this is not possible we will try wherever we can to postpone and re-arrange events to the 2021season. Members will be offered full credit for any events not taking place to be used against next year’s subscription. Further details will be announced in due course.

These are very upsetting times for all of us. We are fortunate that CMS has a strong financial position and an excellent relationship with the University of Chichester which should help us to weather this unprecedented storm and continue our contribution to the musical life of the City.

Do take care and look after yourselves. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Charity and Bursary News

Last year seven students received bursary awards to help them pursue post-graduate musical studies and we are currently in the process of purchasing two natural trumpets for the University Chamber Orchestra.

Rachael Ford is a recent recipient of a CMS bursary. She thanks all Society members who contribute to the bursary scheme explaining that: “I am currently halfway through a two-year Masters in Instrumental Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire specialising on cornet. I am being taught under two of the finest cornet players, Richard Marshall, who is currently principal cornet of the world-famous Black Dyke Band, and Ian Porthouse, who is an award-winning cornet player and also professional conductor conducting one of the most successful bands, Tredegar Band.

“This postgraduate course has enabled me to receive specialist tuition from leading UK and internationally-renowned performers, including cornet soloist and principal trumpet of the London Symphonic Orchestra, Philip Cobb. Not only do I have frequent opportunities to perform, including performance classes and Brass Band concerts, but I also have chances to take modules which allow me to concentrate on aspects of becoming a professional musician. These include the ‘Career Development’ module, which allowed me to reflect ambitiously yet realistically on my professional aspirations, and, additional ‘Professional Development’ Options, including the ‘Self-promotion project’ and ‘Professional Music Criticism’.

“I am grateful for these generous bursary awards from the Chichester Music Society which have helped significantly to assist me through my Masters course. These bursary awards will significantly assist me to enrich my musical career aspirations of being a professional musician. It has given me the opportunity to work with top-level musicians, with the exposure to professional views through individual tuition and masterclasses with distinguished visiting guest musicians.”

The newsletter’s must-reads, recommended listens, local musical events

Local events continue to be severely disrupted by Covid19. This year’s Summer Buffet Concert on 10th June marking the launch of CMS has had to be cancelled. Next year’s Summer Buffet Concert on 9th June will be a special event providing an opportunity to celebrate the launch of CMS, so put it in your diary! We hope to present Erin Alexander and Nick Miller in their special show during the year.

Autumn Season

We are hoping to run our Autumn season as planned. Our first event on 9th September features Pavlos Carvalho discussing and playing Bach’s Cello suites (details below).

As previously announced, the programme by Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars, due to take place on 13th May, has been postponed until Tuesday 29th September 2020. This concert will feature duets performed on three types of instrument: the Baroque guitar, the Early Romantic guitar, and the modern classical guitar.

In October, Angela Zanders will be continuing our Beethoven theme with an examination of his life and place in the history of Western music. This year’s Christmas Special on 9th December with David Owen Norris discussing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata should also be firmly in everyone’s diary!

As noted above, if we are not able to present our events as planned, wherever possible they will be postponed until next year.

Next event: 9th September – Pavlos Carvalho, Bach Cello Suites

Pavlos Carvalho is probably best known to CMS members as the cellist with Ensemble Reza. However, he is a distinguished soloist and his recitals of the Bach Cello Suites have become something of a special feature of the Festival of Chichester. Anyone fortunate enough to attend the concerts at St John’s Chapel will need no encouragement to come and hear him at the University.

In addition to fine musicianship, when talking about these wonderful pieces he is able to add many insights which bring them to life. In an interview with Phil Hewitt which appeared in the Mid Sussex Times a few years ago, he noted that “You get into the mind frame if you play Bach. There is perhaps a difficulty particularly with the awareness of period performance, but for me, whether consciously or unconsciously, it is all about the clarity of the voicing. Even when he is writing for the cello, he is writing for different voices, and the challenge is to make the voicing clear. If you look at the score, you are faced with a barrage of notes. You have to find out which ones are of primary importance, which ones of secondary importance. The idea is to put in that hard work so the end result appears simple. But you will always see new things. You can spend your entire life trying to find out the definitive version, but you won’t. That’s both the joy and the frustration!”

This is a great opportunity to hear him in this remarkable music.

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BSO@Home: a weekly series of artist-led discussions on music, memories and the BSO

Join the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra from the comfort of your home for a weekly series of artist-led magazine programmes. These regular discussions feature some of the Orchestra’s favourite guest soloists and conductors in conversation as they chat about their musical highlights and appearances with the BSO.

Click the link below for further info.

Why coronavirus crisis offers musicians a chance for life-changing reflection

Haywards Heath-based cellist Pavlos Carvalho would have been – as he always is – one of the busiest contributors to this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Sadly, though, the Festival, along with everything else the length and breadth of the country, has been cancelled. Overnight the diaries of musicians everywhere suddenly emptied. However, now the shock has subsided, Pavlos is relishing a chance to rethink and to reassess.

Read more at the link below.

The great bond of friendship between Cathedral and Festival of Chichester

Chichester Cathedral Chancellor Daniel Inman joined the Festival of Chichester committee – for a festival which was forced off the calendar, along with countless other arts, sporting and community events when the coronavirus crisis hit.

The Festival of Chichester quickly vowed to be back again next year, all the stronger, and Zoom meetings are already underway as the festival committee starts to ponder 2021.

Here Daniel shares his thoughts about the festival that never was; looks forward to happier times next year; and reflects on the close bond which has always existed between the Festival and the Cathedral.

Read more at the link below.

Unsung Heroes – let’s applaud amateur musicians!

In these fraught times, let’s have a round of applause for all those amateur musicians who, in their professional lives, are also helping to combat the lethal virus gripping the country.

As written about before on Music in Portsmouth, nearly every local orchestra has a sprinkling of medical people in its ranks. Several are already in the NHS but others have stepped up to the plate and volunteered to help. To save their blushes, their names have been omitted whilst giving a glimpse of their activities. These are just some of the unsung heroes and heroines of today.

A community nurse who plays the ‘cello is doing her bit by working on the district. This means visiting people in their homes and in care homes. Many are elderly and, sadly, some are receiving end of life care. It’s a risky business. Rightly, she describes her area of work as the new front line.

A violin playing doctor, who is a specialist dermatologist was redeployed onto the wards of a busy hospital as a medical registrar. She is now back in her own area of work trying to catch up on cancer referrals.

Non-cancer patients are now being seen through a virtual clinic. This is a complete change of working routine for her but it keeps as many people at home as possible while dealing with their dermatological needs.

Another violinist, a surgeon, is studying for her PhD. Despite this she has worked occasionally at her hospital filling in for colleagues who are off sick.

One viola player, a former GP in his 70’s, retired eleven years ago. Realistically, he feels that he has little to offer but takes his hat off to all those who’ve put themselves forward to help. Even so, he is helping to save lives by self-isolating.

A paediatrician who is equally at home on viola or violin is now retired. She has had her licence to practice reinstated. She has volunteered to help in a non-frontline role because the NHS is not putting anyone over 60 in that situation. So far, she has not been called forward to help. However, her main contribution is to continue to work for the Tribunal Service. All the hearings are on conference calls now.

It’s a similar story with a retired doctor who is a clarinet player. The General Medical Council wrote to him, giving him back full registration. He filled in the forms but has not heard anything more. His son, who is a violinist, filled in the forms to volunteer to help at a local hospital. Again, no response. As John Milton put it, “They also serve who stand and wait.”

Poignant new song becomes NHS fund-raiser in Sussex

A beautiful new song by University of Chichester head of voice Susan Legg salutes the NHS in these difficult times.

The whole experience – as Susan says – was a happy whirlwind, everything falling into place quickly and easily, from the moment of inspiration right through to the moment of release.

Voice tutor Susan is now using the song, entitled Hold On Tight, to raise as much money as she possibly can for the NHS.

Hear it here:

Donate here.

Susan says:

I’ve written a song and want us all to make as much money together for the NHS as we can. Let’s do this!

I woke up early one day during Lockdown with a tune in my head. I thought I’d better get up and write it down.

My background: I’m a trained opera singer and vocal tutor at the University of Chichester where we are supporting our wonderful students during Lockdown.

If you watched Endeavour Series 7 you may have seen me as the tragic opera heroine – I’m not really that dramatic in real life!

I was lucky that our great friend and neighbour, the legend Guy Fletcher (Dire Straits) agreed to play the guitar, produce and mix the track. How lucky was that!!

I wrote the melody, lyrics, piano and string parts. When Guy recorded guitar on the track I was so excited to hear what he had done! When I heard it, I realised that his playing had completely dictated the direction the song would take.

It has been an incredible experience to have enlisted the support of extraordinary musicians in the recording of this song. Andy Brown (viola soloist and Director of London Metropolitan Orchestra) and celebrated cellist Caroline Dale both contributed fantastic performances. Composer and our dear friend Matthew Slater gave invaluable help in overseeing and producing the remote recordings.

I also have a great debt of gratitude to my husband, Film, TV and Games composer Stephen Baysted, who recorded my song and worked hard with Anne Miller and Frankie Videtta of Accorder Music our publishers to get it out on all digital platforms as quickly as possible to support our wonderful NHS.

We will beat this virus and save lives.

Please donate generously and I hope you find the song uplifting. I really do!

See also

Scala Radio’s Unfinished Symphony

Scala Radio, the self-styled “classical music station for modern life” has come up with a great idea to lighten the mood of the music lovers during lockdown. It’s a feature called Unfinished Symphony. It’s on their morning show just after nine o’clock. The whole concept is to encourage listeners to fashion an entirely new piece of music together from their own homes.

Every Monday morning there is a “starter track” to provide some inspiration for their own compositions. It’s only a few bars, about five seconds. Scala will then play the track every morning to see what new and exciting compositions listeners have created.

The idea is beautifully simple. Tune into Scala Radio online after nine in the morning and follow the instructions for Unfinished Symphony. There’s a link to help budding composers hear what others have created so far. The links are:

You can also get in touch with Charles Nove, who selects soothing and vibrant music, via

It really is fun. Don’t forget that sometimes simple things can snowball and lead to unforeseen major achievements. Your new creation could become a great success. It could end up being played at the Albert Hall with you conducting a vast orchestra. So, if you fancy yourself as Portsmouth’s answer to Puccini or Southampton’s answer to Sebelius, why not have a go?

Charles Nove selects a blend of vibrant and soothing music for your morning with a light look at the day’s news. Search Scala Radio on Facebook and @scalaradiouk on Twitter and Instagram.

News from the Solent Male Voice Choir


Solent Male Voice Choir have a vacancy for an Accompanist/Assistant Musical Director as from 1st September 2020.

Working closely with our new Musical Director, Huw Thomas, who takes over from Geoff Porter on 1st September, you will accompany practices and concerts. There is an opportunity as Assistant Musical Director to train the Choir in some songs and to conduct a smaller Choir at some private events.

We offer a small remuneration, to cover travelling expenses, for practices and additional payments for concerts. The Choir meets every Tuesday evening between 7.30pm and 9.30pm in Havant.

If you are interested in becoming part of a friendly and sociable group who enjoy their singing please send a brief CV to

New beginnings

Any day now the directors of the area’s amateur stage and music groups will be getting their actors, singers and musicians to lend a hand removing the dust covers from the project marked Spring 2020 to see what can be salvaged from the debris of lockdown.

With collaboration arrangements already postponed to the autumn or next year and some concerts and performances reluctantly abandoned group leaders must shrug off the disappointment and re-energise the troops with new initiatives and plans.

Spare a thought then for groups trying to rescue their programmes while welcoming new leaders at the same time so that they are fit and ready when rehearsals resume. Two choirs in the Solent area face this challenge with new faces wielding the baton.

Geoff Porter is moving from his post as musical director of Havant-based Solent Male Voice Choir to join Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir, who rehearse at Sarisbury Green. And stepping up at Havant is his former deputy Huw Thomas.

Geoff says that, while he is sad to be leaving, “I am excited about the prospect of conducting a large choir and directing them in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choir Festival next year. I am delighted that Huw Thomas is taking over SMVC and l know the choir is in safe hands”.

Solent chairman Dave McVittie says that among many memories of Geoff Porter’s stint as MD, the choir will never forget the way he navigated them through the 2016 Welsh Festival of Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall when seven songs on the programme had to be sung in Welsh by the 13 choirs involved.

“We thank him for the way he has extended the choir’s repertoire during his tenure and wish him continuing success. We are all excited to have such a talented replacement for Geoff as Huw. He will bring a new direction to the SMVC.”

Born in Llanelli in South Wales, Huw studied music at the local grammar school, where he played piano, organ and trumpet. An honours graduate in music from Bath University, he gained his diploma as Associate of the Royal College of Music after moving to London. He now lives in Southbourne with his wife Anne-Marie and family.


Chichester Singers keep singing together during the lockdown

Many performing groups feel like a family, and their members will be missing their weekly meet-ups and often various additional social occasions, too. Furthermore, their loyal audience will be missing their regular dose of live music whilst lockdown is on.

To combat this, the Chichester Singers has recently released a video of 68 of their choir members singing Mozart’s short choral motet Ave verum corpus in isolation.

Jonathan Willcocks explains. “I asked our accompanist Sue Graham Smith to make a selfie-video playing the accompaniment. I then asked all our singers, while listening to the accompaniment through headphones, to sing their own soprano, alto, tenor or bass part while filming themselves on their phones, and to send the video to me. We had 68 videos back, and my son Charlie then undertook the Herculean task of mixing them all into a single video.

“You can see the result at

“I think it has been a great deal of fun for everyone involved, even though quite a few said that they found the experience of singing alone to a camera terrifying and humbling! I was even accused by some of subjecting them to a form of covert cyber-re-audition, and some who didn’t send me a video have admitted that they did film themselves singing but were too horrified by what they saw and heard to send the video to me!

“As with all amateur choirs, there are some singers who are much more able than others, but the result is living proof of the miracle of large-choir choral singing – that the whole is so much more than the sum of the individual parts.”

Alone but together beautiful, soul-enriching singing. Thank you” – Louise Goldsmith

Editing and mixing the Chichester Singers’ Ave verum corpus video – by Charlie Willcocks

The first stage was for the choir’s accompanist Sue Graham Smith to record a video of the piano accompaniment to the piece, which was circulated via a YouTube link amongst the choir, ‘locked down’ in their own homes. The singers were invited to record their own video, singing their own part of the piece, whilst listening to the accompaniment in earphones. This ensures that all singers are kept in time, but that each individual video features their voice alone, which can then be combined with all the singers’ videos to produce a performance as a unified choir.

Once all videos were received, there were two quite separate jobs which run in parallel. The sound from each video was stripped away to create an audio file for each singer – all the resulting audio files were imported into Apple’s Logic Pro X specialist audio editing software which gives you fine control over the sound. All files are “lined up” and synchronised with the accompaniment, then the sound of a choir can be created firstly by balancing the volume of each singer against everyone else, also using panning to scatter the singers around the left-to-right stereo spectrum, adding reverberation to create the feeling of a “space” the singers are in, and automating various parameters like volume, to create an overall blend.

Meanwhile, all the video files are imported into Apple’s Final Cut Pro X video editing software which allows you to line up and synchronise all videos so they are in time with each other, then to trim and resize each video to give them all a roughly uniform perspective (i.e. head-and-shoulders shot), and then to arrange them in any way you want on the screen, cutting and rotating between videos that are visible and those that aren’t at any one time. Then further automation can be used to have videos moving around the screen, while at the same time zooming each video out, to allow all faces to be visible on the same screen by the end, enabling you to gradually to build a collage of faces. When you get to the end, everyone’s individual video will finish at a different moment, depending on when they happened to press the stop button on their video recording at home. These could all be trimmed to finish at the same time, but I chose to let them all finish naturally, similar to lights being turned out one by one in a building. The software also enables you to put short video transitions, such as fade-ins and fade-outs, on the start and end of each video clip, which takes away any abruptness from changes in clips.

The final audio is then exported as a stereo mix from Logic, and this resultant master sound file is imported to the Final Cut session, lined up with the existing video, and replacing the sound from the individual videos.


Enjoy the London Mozart Players at home during the coronavirus crisis

Jess Gillam and the London Mozart Players were to have been one of the highlights of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

But with the Festival cancelled and gigs everywhere pulled amid the coronavirus crisis, the London Mozart Players have come up with an innovative way of making sure you can still enjoy them. LMP have gone virtual, launching At Home with LMP in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

As spokeswoman Jo Carpenter explains, the new online video feed will keep audiences across the globe connected with their music.

Donations made to the At Home with LMP campaign will be used to help compensate LMP musicians who now have no income due to concert cancellations – the orchestra has no core funding. See the At Home with LMP page.

Access the LMP’s YouTube channel.

Read more at the link below.

Weekly live-streaming from Ensemble Reza is proving a musical hit

Mid-Sussex-based Ensemble Reza is seeing a great response to its weekly lockdown streaming initiative.

Midday Music – the Tuesday Series offers a live-streamed lunchtime concert every week, and numbers are growing nicely.

Ensemble Reza managing director Hannah Carter said: “In just over three weeks we have had over 2.5k viewers and over 300 subscribers to our YouTube channel. During the concert I am able to communicate with our audience through our live chat and know people of all ages including children are listening all over the country from Cornwall to Scotland and as far as France! We have had some lovely feedback and know our welcoming and friendly series is brightening up people’s lives.”

Read more at the links below.

Link to Ensemble Reza’s YouTube channel.

Link to article in the Chichester Observer.

How to Set Up for Online Music Lessons

Whether you like it or not, in order to keep busy and still have a music tuition business after this Corona crisis has settled, you might be forced to do online lessons for some time.

If you’ve never done it before and you’re used to regular face-to-face lessons, the thought of this can be scary. This crisis came so suddenly, out of the blue, and caught us all off guard. We’ve had to adapt super quickly.

I’ve been doing online lessons for a while and have discovered what works and doesn’t work for a range of instruments. In this short guide, I will introduce you to the webcam angles and setups that you will most likely need. If you are playing an instrument that I’m not mentioning, you can easily translate one of these setups to suit your own instrument. The piano has the most advanced setup, so that gets most of my attention.

In my opinion, the setup is one of the most important factors for a successful online lesson. That’s why I have chosen to dedicate a whole post just for this topic. If you’ve got the setup right, the rest will be a walk in the park. Or perhaps more appropriately nowadays – a walk in the garden…


This article originally appeared on Frances Wilson’s A Piano Teacher Writes…thoughts on piano teaching and beyond website.

Sindre graduated from Rose Bruford College with a degree in Actor-Musicianship in 2015. He is a multi-instrumentalist and has been a private music teacher for 4 years. In 2018, he co-founded Beyond Music in order to provide a supportive and rewarding platform for music tutors to advertise their tuition services.

Innovative ways of staying musically connected during the coronavirus crisis are springing up online

While recitals, events and concerts are being postponed and cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there are still ways to stay musically connected at a time when many of us will feel isolated.

Click on the link below for up to date information and new virtual initiatives for choral and/or organ enthusiasts, courtesy of Rhinegold Publishing.

National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain to spread joy of music

Bognor Regis cellist James Dew will be among the musicians taking part in a national live performance celebrating the joy of music.

On Friday, April 17 at 5pm, we’re calling on every musician in the UK to join in a national live performance from their doorsteps, on their balconies or out their windows, playing as a socially distanced orchestra.

An NYO spokesman said: “We believe in the unlimited potential of teenagers, and as the future of orchestral music, our musicians are powerful advocates. By harnessing the power of peer inspiration, we target those with the greatest musical commitment and cultural need.”

Read the story by clicking the link below.

The Funtington Music Group becomes Chichester Music Society

The Funtington Music Group has been formally re-launched as Chichester Music Society.

​In October 2019, the FMG Committee proposed that we should change the group’s name to the Chichester Music Society. We have a real affection for our current name but strongly believe that changing to Chichester Music Society is much more relevant in relation to where we meet and the majority of members live, and will assist us to increase our membership by appealing to a wider audience from across the Chichester area. A motion to formally change our name was put to the membership at this year’s AGM on 11 March 2020 and overwhelmingly supported by members.

The aim and traditions of the group remain unchanged – to provide members with excellent musical performance and the opportunity to extend their musical knowledge and understanding, and to support the musical careers of students at the University. Since 2004 a total of £90,000 has been awarded in prizes, musical instruments and bursaries.

The Funtington Music Group takes its name from the West Sussex village where Robert Headley, its founder, lived. Robert retired there in the 1980’s and established the music group which met in the music room of his house, Funtington Lodge. From an informal group of friends getting together to listen to recorded music and having a discussion over a cup of coffee, the group developed into having live music with artists talking about the instrument and the music played.

In 1992 the group formally became The Funtington Music Group, holding regular lecture-recitals at Funtington Lodge and following Robert’s death in 2003 the group accepted the generous invitation of Ben Hall, Head of Music, to meet in the (then) College Chapel. The group has continued to offer an annual programme of excellent lecture/recitals for its members and guests and support the musical development of students at the university through the Robert Headley Fund, our registered charity.

Music appreciation course with Angela Zanders: “Classical Masterpieces Composed in Troubled Times”

These are trying and difficult times for all of us and I have devised a course which, I hope, will bring distraction, entertainment, and inspiration during this time of isolation from other people and the activities we would normally be taking part in.

The theme, ‘Classical Masterpieces Composed in Troubled Times’ will focus on ten great, inspirational and, in many cases, joyful and uplifting works composed in times of crisis. I shall be using PowerPoint slides, recordings and videos to help illustrate the historical background to the works, the personal circumstances of each composer which gave rise to the works and, of course, the significance of the music itself, together with what to listen out for to enhance enjoyment and appreciation.

I shall be using ZOOM to run the course. This is easy to find on Google, download onto your computer or tablet and register free of charge. Once you have registered, I will be arranging a trial session before the course begins for everyone who has signed up, and of course I am happy to help and answer any questions you may have in the meantime.

The 90- minute sessions will take place on: MONDAYS 2pm – 3.30 (April 20th, 27th; May 4th, 11th, 18th; June 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th). WEDNESDAYS 10am – 11.30 (April 22nd, 29th; May 6th, 13th, 20th; June 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th; July 1st)

Course fee: £100 (online payment preferred; cheques if online payment not available.)

For more information please contact me:
Tel: 07582 537123

Read a profile of Angela.

Making Music on staying connected

Making Music has written a great article on how to stay connected during the coronavirus crisis.

We know how important music groups are to the people in them. It goes beyond the music, and is as much about social connections, wellbeing and shared creativity – all of which have been hit hard by coronavirus (COVID-19). However, a positive factor that has come out of this is the fantastically creative ways people are finding to stay in touch and keep making music.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the great ways to connect musically that we have come across, which you could share with your group. There will probably be some ideas out there that we have not heard yet, so please let us know about them and we will add them to the list.

Read more at the link below.

Petworth Festival 2020 will now run in the autumn

We very much regret to announce that major changes have been forced on us as a result of the current health crisis. All events in July have been either postponed or cancelled, but, in what we hope will look like a shaft of sunlight in the otherwise grey skies, we are delighted to announce that we will additionally present a sequence of the absolute highlights of this planned Summer Festival in a special week of events that will precede the 2020 literary week.

The new AUTUMN FESTIVAL will now run between Friday 16 October – Sunday 1 November with a week of music and performance followed by the 10th Anniversary Literary Week.

We have already been overwhelmed by the support we have received from many of our Friends and Supporters, but the Festival will still need all the help we can get to enable us to overcome the many challenges the Covid-19 crisis has forced on us. As such we appeal to everyone who loves the Petworth Festival to help us survive into 2021 and beyond by making a donation, however small.

In the meantime, our overriding concerns remain for the wellbeing of our audiences, our supporters and our Festival team, many of whom are volunteers, not to mention the musicians and performers who bring so much to our lives.

We hope each of you stays well and we look forward to seeing you and to bringing you the unparalleled joys of music, words and performance later in the year.

Article: Making practice perfect

The dreaded Coronavirus is causing gigs to be cancelled or postponed, and orchestras to go into recess. Virtually all amateur and professional musicians are in lockdown at home. But all is not lost. The situation offers a golden opportunity for some really productive personal practice.

With this in mind, I sought the observations of several local musicians and teachers on the subject. The views of Peter Best and Ed Mc Dermott (both ex-Royal Marines musicians), Spencer Bundy (ex RAF musician, ex cruise liner multi-instrumentalist and university tutor) and Lorraine Masson (formerly an orchestral violinist and viola player in Spain and Portugal) are reflected in this piece. These are pearls of wisdom from prominent musicians and experienced musical directors.

Why practice at all? Unless you are a naturally-talented musician like Fritz Krysler, whose wife used to scold him for not practising, players are unlikely to improve without practising. Time spent honing up your technique is never wasted. It’s a chance to improve what you know already by playing simple, uncomplicated things over and over again. Single notes can be repeated until a pleasing, sonorous tone is fostered. Also, muscle memory can also be established this way.

When is the best time to practice? Most people agree that playing when your energy levels are highest is the most beneficial. For many, this is in the morning. Obviously, this depends on whether you are an early bird or a night owl. Practising when tired can be counterproductive.

Where to practice? Any quiet place with enough elbow room will do. A music stand, pencil and rubber are useful accessories. The metronome is an essential tool to cultivate an even tempo and correct rhythmic playing. So is a mirror which enables players to correct their stance and posture. For many modern musicians, access to YouTube is a real advantage, enabling them to see and hear virtuosi playing the pieces they are learning.

How to practice? Standing up is best as this makes the core muscles and diaphragm work as they should. Although this is particularly important for wind players, it applies to upper string players too. For those, like ‘cellists, who must sit to play, a business-like, upright chair fits the bill.

What to practice? Scales, played slowly with careful attention to tuning, are absolutely vital for they are the building blocks of music. Any book of scales will probably do. However, Hrimaly’s book of studies for violin is excellent. It starts very simply but soon leads the player to very challenging two- and three-octave scales and arpeggios in all keys. Slow and steady playing is vital to avoid embedding bad habits or sloppy playing.

Next come exercises. Etudes composed by Playel, Kayser, Kreutzer, Wohlfahrt and many others are superbly beneficial for taking musicians through every key as well as the upper and lower registers of the instrument. Mazas studies are well regarded too because they are both tuneful and testing. Sevcik’s School of Violin Techniques Opus 1, 2 and 3 are so comprehensive that they probably take a lifetime to master fully. They should be practised in manageable bites. The best advice is to tackle the material which is hard work first rather than put it off till the end. This removes the temptation to postpone it until the next day.

Finally, there are pieces which, once mastered, are enjoyable to play. These are particularly useful to round off the practice session with pleasure and a feeling of achievement.

Havant Music Festival postponed

To bring some cheer to us all we are rearranging the 4th Havant Music Festival which is now scheduled to take place between the 8th and 18th October 2020 by which time we hope the Government restrictions will have eased.

We plan to run a similar programme of concerts in October to what we had in mind for April, and a revised programme will be posted on this website and social media by the end of March.

We’ll decide by the beginning of July whether the Festival will run in October and aim to have a new brochure and online ticket sales available from the middle of July.

If the Government restrictions are not lifted in time for the October Festival then we will hold the next Festival in April 2021.

The 2020 Portsmouth Festivities have been cancelled owing to the Coronavirus

In the light of Government recommendations, it is with deep regret that the Festival Board has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 Portsmouth Festivities due to take place June 2020.

Ensuring the safety of our artists, audience members and staff is our priority. 2020 would have been our 21st Festival and we had a remarkable line-up for you, and we hope it will be possible to stage some events at a later point.

As a Festival we have always been committed to our community and education outreach, and we will be stepping up our efforts in this area as we look to 2021. Please keep an eye on our website for updates on our future plans.

During this challenging time we send our supporters, audiences and colleagues our encouragement, support and best wishes for their health and well-being.

Goodbye Petersfield Musical Festival 2020

A personal message from the Festival Chairman, Philip Young

A hundred years ago, the singers and instrumentalists involved in the Petersfield Musical Festival were making final preparations for the 1920 Festival – the fifteenth Festival, and the first to be held since its concerts were suspended during World War I. In the century since 1920, the Festival has continued without interruption, even running a reduced programme through the years of World War 2.

Not this year, however. The coronavirus pandemic finally brought the Festival to a standstill. It was a close-run thing. Through the first two weeks of March, preparations were still in full swing, with choirs, orchestras and schools putting the finishing touches to their performances, programmes being printed, and the choir seating, lighting and audio systems being put in place on the Festival Hall stage. Tickets for the Youth Concerts and the Petersfield Orchestra had long since sold out, and the other concerts were filling up, though a slow-down in sales suggested that audiences were waiting to see what would happen.

The Festival’s first weekend continued as planned with three very successful events. Not everyone who had booked chose to come, but those who did were thoroughly entertained. ZRI, though sadly missing a player who couldn’t come from Athens, opened the Festival on Friday 13th in spectacularly entertaining style – with a racy soundtrack to Charlie Chaplin’s The Adventurer interspersed with traditional East European gypsy music and popular songs.

On Saturday local choral singers, including Petersfield and Rogate Choral Societies and Midhurst Music Society, joined forces with Southern Pro Musica, Highfield Chapel Choir and soloists Catriona Hewitson and Morgan Pearse, all under the inspiring leadership of conductor Paul Spicer. Richard Blackford’s Mirror of Perfection and Andrew Carter’s Benedicite – two upbeat choral works celebrating the natural world – came over with tremendous energy and impact and Dag Wiren’s popular Serenade for Strings completed a programme that was much enjoyed both by the performers and the audience.

Then on Sunday a very different audience of families with young children shared the Family Concert by Basingstoke Chamber Orchestra, in a whistle-stop tour of every means of transport from horse-drawn buggy to space ship. Narrator Sarah Scotchmer even arrived in the auditorium on a scooter!

By Monday, however, things were changing. Schools were putting in place restrictions on out of school activities, and the Youth Concerts had to be cancelled – but not before four junior school choirs had faithfully turned up for the morning rehearsal. The children took to the stage, imagined the packed audience they might have had, and filled the empty hall with Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.

Later that day, the new social distancing guidance came into force, and by Tuesday the Town Hall and Festival Hall had been closed to the public. We never heard the Petersfield Orchestra’s programme of Brahms, Beethoven and Mendelssohn, which had promised so much audience appeal, not the two recitals at St Peter’s Church that were also part of the Festival’s tribute to Beethoven in his 250th year. We didn’t see the enterprising Merry Opera Company in their contemporary take on Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and singers from Petersfield and Fernhurst Choral Societies lost their chance to present exuberant music by Vivaldi and Haydn alongside the local string players of SouthDowns Camerata and Petersfield’s own young virtuoso trumpeter, Lucy Humphris.

The Festival would like to thank all the musicians, both amateur and professional, who have been preparing for the concerts, and the committee, technical team and front of house staff who remained so positive and supportive and continued to see that everything was in place for the performers and audiences up to the very last minute.

With amateur groups now in abeyance and professional engagements cancelled across the country, live music-making is sadly on hold. We can only hope the current measures will be successful and that all will be up and running again in time for the 2021 Festival – plans are already in place!

See: Petersfield Musical Festival: 2020 open choral workshop: Mozart – Mass in C minor – on 26 September

Support for musicians and the musical community

As the Coronavirus crisis deepens, I would like to offer what support I can via the Noticeboard to the local musical community, who are going to find the next few months very challenging indeed.

It’s not been possible to update each entry on the Music in Portsmouth website to show that it’s been cancelled. I’ve only updated those events where I’ve been able to find out that this is the case. It would be best to assume that all events are on hold until the Government alters its guidance.

I can only hope that the majority of listed concerts can be rescheduled at a later date.

In the meantime, I would like to:

• Write profiles of local musicians – whether they be composers, conductors or performers*
• Share videos and audio clips, including video-casts and live-streamed concerts – the concert venues are closed but the music goes on
• Share articles and other resources which may be of interest.

If you hear of anything you’d like me to share, or if you would like me to write a profile of you, please contact me or message me via Twitter to submit material for inclusion.

Meanwhile, stay well everyone and let’s keep in touch.

* Read about:
Nik Knight
Andrew Cleary
Steve Venn
Cathy Mathews
David Price
William Waine
Stella Scott
David Russell
Peter Gambie
Lynden Cranham
Ben Lathbury
Valentina Seferinova
Ann Pinhey
Geoff Porter
Tim Fisher
Terry Barfoot
Angela Zanders
Peter Best
Colin Jagger
Ian Schofield
Matthew Coleridge
Nicola Benedetti
Beryl Francis
Alex Poulton
David Gostick
Stuart Reed
Lucy Armstrong
Roy Theaker
Julia Bishop
Anne White
Wayne Mayor
Stefano Boccacci
Ben Lathbury
Jake Barlow
Penny Gordon
Antonia Kent
John Elder
Simon Wilkins

Coronavirus: Festival of Chichester 2020 cancelled

The 2020 Festival of Chichester has been cancelled as the worsening coronavirus outbreak continues to wipe out the arts across the country.

Organisers were confident they had their best-ever line-up for this year’s eighth Festival of Chichester, running from mid-June to mid-July.

But it was clear the entire festival had to be pulled. Instead, the festival will come back stronger for 2021.

Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “It’s been the hardest possible decision, but in some ways the easiest. We had no choice: with the heaviest hearts we are cancelling this year’s Festival of Chichester.

“It has been an absolutely awful few weeks, and there is every indication it is going to get worse. The health and safety of everyone has to be our paramount consideration. It always has been.

“A festival this summer wouldn’t just be impossible; it would also be inappropriate.

“2020 would have been our eighth Festival and we had a remarkable line-up for you – a wonderful programme that will now never see the light of day, and that is a tragedy. The wider picture in the world is utterly miserable at the moment, and of course, we absolutely must take the wider perspective, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still feel very sad indeed that 2020 will be the year Chichester doesn’t have a summer festival.

“Fortunately, we are in a sound position financially; we have always been careful and it seems we might well see the benefits of that. It means that we can look forward to the 2021 festival with a degree of confidence. We are going to make it happen. Rest assured of that.

But at the same time, bringing this year’s festival to this point has still incurred significant costs.

“We would therefore ask our event organisers if they could possibly consider the voluntary contribution they made to this year’s festival as a donation to the far bigger cause of ensuring our survival. We would be immeasurably grateful – and you could be helping us hugely bring you an even better festival in happier times next year.

“Let’s all look after each other in the meantime; let’s all get each other through this; let’s fix the 2021 Festival of Chichester on our collective horizons as a ray of hope the other side of the tough, tough months we are all going to go through.

“We will be sending our event organisers much fuller details of what this cancellation means in due course.”

The Festival of Chichester is a platform for events organised by third parties.

Phil added: “You won’t be able to go ahead with your events as part of the Festival of Chichester, but if things improve and it is safe for you to go ahead with your event on your own, then please contact me in my day job as arts editor at the Chichester Observer and its sister titles, and the papers will support you fully.”

Festival co-ordinator Barry Smith added: “The cancellation of the festival is a terrible blow not just to Chichester audiences but also to those who would have visited our city to enjoy the cultural feast on offer. Of course, given the unfolding medical emergency, we have had to put people’s health and safety first and so, with great regret, we have had to pull the plug on the 2020 festival.

“Over the eight years of its existence the festival has gone from strength to strength. Starting from nothing except goodwill and the support of key organisations like the City Council and the Chichester Observer, our voluntary committee has been able to put together a remarkable and unique offering spanning a month of glorious entertainment each summer.

“Grounded in the community, the festival presents the best of local talents alongside the visiting stars. This year would have been no exception – in fact, it was shaping up to be our biggest and best yet. We shall miss the wonderful concerts, the orchestras and choirs, the jazz musicians, the authors, the poets, the films, the walks, tours, gigs and exhibitions. But we are determined that even though this year’s hard work has come to nought, we will build again, with the support of the city, another festival to be proud of next year.”

Don’t diss audiences – they’re doing their best

“….the quality and general culture of audiences have diminished in equal measure……The average listener of today has hardly the faintest idea about what he is hearing. He neither knows anything about new music, nor can he differentiate between outstanding, moderately good and poor performances.”

Sir András Schiff, The Telegraph, 8 March

It’s not the first time I’ve found myself bridling at criticism of “the audience”. There have been a few occasions, mostly in music reviews, where the audience and its behaviour have been commented upon in less-than-complimentary terms. I feel offended because as a regular concert-goer I am part of “the audience”, and I will nearly always rush to defend it.

And why? Because there’s a very simple equation here: without an audience, the musician/s does not have a concert, nor a fee. He/she/they may be performing to a handful of people or a full house at Carnegie Hall, but the audience is a crucial part of the concert experience. Without an audience, you are just playing into the void (sadly, some musicians are finding this is a necessity as concert halls close due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that’s another story).

András Schiff’s comments revive – yet again! – that tedious old chestnut that you need specialist knowledge or a certain level of education to enjoy, or better still appreciate classical music. The truth is, you don’t. All you need are your ears and a willingness and curiosity to submit to the sounds, to the experience, the flow of the music and the emotions it provokes. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy the experience, and there’s no test at the end of the concert to see if you “understood it”, no exam in musical analysis to check you know what Sonata Form is or the meaning of Allegro Amabile (“smile as you quickly play”). The majority of audience members are there not to show off their specialist knowledge, but because they enjoy the experience of live music. And in fact, contrary to what Schiff says, many audience members are highly discerning and really can spot whether a performance is truly inspiring or mediocre: they may not be able to express this in high falutin language but they can certainly sense it.

Performers like Schiff would do well to remember who is paying for the tickets to their concerts, for without those ticket buyers, those valuable (but, it would appear, not always valued) “bums on seats”, The Audience, there wouldn’t be the same opportunities to perform. This is especially true for less well-known musicians who are trying to make a living playing for local music societies and regional arts organisations, where the ability to pay the artist a fee is predicated almost entirely on ticket sales.

Patronising, arrogant attitudes towards audiences, and potential audiences, don’t really help an art form which is constantly trying to attract as wide an audience demographic as possible, and serve to reinforce the notion that classical music is “elitist”. If I was a newbie concert-goer reading Schiff’s comments, I think I might be tempted to head straight out of the concert hall, never to return.

Let’s stop behaving as if classical music is for the few, not the many; that it’s some kind of precious crystal that only a select minority can see and engage with. Instead, let’s endeavour to make everyone feel welcome, regardless of their credentials or knowledge.

Read Jon Jacob’s thoughts on this issue here.

Article credit: Frances Wilson, who blogs on classical music as The Cross-Eyed Pianist

Events launch for the City’s longest-running Arts Festival


Portsmouth Festivities launches its annual festival starting on Friday June 12th.

What a better way to kick start the programme than an opening concert featuring young performers from schools across the city guided by the award-winning Multi-Story Orchestra in a City Centre multi-storey car park?

This year’s line-up sees the likes of folk duo O`Hooley and Tidow, who were catapulted to folk stardom after their single Gentleman Jack featured as the theme for a BBC drama of the same name, Histories of the Unexpected, a rip-roaring romp through the very unexpected things such as how the history of the smile is linked to Charles Darwin and electrocution. We also welcome Mercury-nominated jazz group Dinosaur headed by trumpeter Laura Jurd, a UK exclusive viewing of the Très Court Film Festival, beloved children’s author Michael Rosen, and Glaswegian folk quartet GNOSS on their album tour.

With the support of the Heritage Lottery and in partnerships with the Mary Rose Museum and Portsmouth Young Carers, this year the festival presents Submerged, an exhibition of film and audio that focuses on the 475th anniversary of the sinking of the Mary Rose. This exhibition will run for the entirety of the festival.

Portsmouth Festivities is in its 21st year of delivering a multi-arts and cultural festival. The charity is dedicated to providing a wide range of events across the city as well as educational experiences and family-friendly events for all.

“Every year the aim of the festival is to increase creativity and offer opportunities for civic pride, this year shows an array of diverse events and we look forward to welcoming you, whether it be in a multi-storey car park or at Hilsea Lido.” The Festival’s Director, Erica Smith

To close the ten days of events, the festival is inviting singers and musicians to take part in Portsmouth Calling which will be a mass jam featuring some of the most iconic rock songs of the 20th and 21st Century in the Guildhall Square. This musical extravaganza is set to be one of our largest performance collectives in years.

Other highlights of the festival include a concert celebrating the 70th Anniversary of our City’s twinning with Duisburg, and a top theatre companies Gecko, Wardrobe Ensemble and Pif-Paf Theatre.

Portsmouth Festivities 2020 will run between Friday 12 and Sunday 21 June. Tickets will be on sale from Monday 16 March.

Discover more about events taking place during Portsmouth Festivities 2020 at

St Thomas à Becket church joins national events to mark the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket

Welcome to the celebration of Becket 850 at Warblington!

This year marks the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Thomas a Becket, to whom St Thomas à Becket church in Warblington is dedicated.

Plans are afoot to bring the church further into the consciousness of the community so that it can be recognised as an example of faith down the ages, a jewel of history and architecture, and as a place of worship, peace and contemplation.

See for the full list of events, which includes:

Sun 26 April 3:00pm – Harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry performs as part of the Havant Music Festival
Fri 15 May 7:00pm – Portsmouth Cathedral Choir sing English choral music
Wed 17 June 7:00pm – The Nightingales Singers: songs from the 1920s and onwards
Sun 21 June 3:00pm – Songs of Praise followed by cream teas
Sat 18 July 3:00pm – An al Fresco musical performance to accompany Churchyard teas
Sun 2 August 5:00pm – The Edwards Family Close-Harmony Gospel Singers
9-11 October 7:00pm – Illustrated History of the Church and the Man, with sound, light & music
Sat 7 November 7:00pm – Chichester Voices Classical chamber choir

“Becket2020” will see venues in London, Canterbury and beyond host a range of events across the year to commemorate his murder – a moment which changed the course of history. This programme includes performances, pageants, talks, film screenings and religious services, and culminates in the first-ever major UK exhibition to explore Becket’s life, death and legacy which will open at the British Museum in October. See

300th-anniversary celebrations for the Historic ‘Handel’ organ at Holy Trinity Church, Gosport

As part of our celebrations for the 300th anniversary of our Historic ‘Handel’ organ at Holy Trinity Church, Gosport, we are pleased to announce a March full of music!

Make sure to join us for ‘Nigel Willoughby and Teresa Foster’, violin and piano, at 3.30pm on Sunday 1st March. Peter King, organist emeritus Bath Abbey, at 1pm on Monday 16th March, Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir at 7.30pm on Saturday 21st for their 80th-anniversary concert and finally Botley Choral Society at 7.30pm on Saturday 28th!

Lunchtime Concerts at St Faith’s Havant in 2020

To musicians, friends and performers around the area…

It’s that time of year, again…when we begin to plan our Tuesday lunchtime concerts programme. For the uninitiated, this is a fantastic opportunity to perform in the historic and acoustically-excellent church of St Faith’s, Havant. We have an appreciative audience of (usually) between 50 and 60 people (although more than 100 have been known to come for the right performers!). For those who require them, we have an excellent, recently refurbished two manual ‘Hunter’ organ, and a beautiful well-tuned ‘Weinstein’ grand piano. A good sound system is also available to those who perform to background tracks, or who require a microphone.

Expenses are offered to all ‘acts’ (up to £40) and any funds left over are donated to St Faith’s ‘Big Build Campaign’ (to carry on improving the building for the benefit of all local people, and especially as a concert venue).

The diary is OPEN – from Tuesday 21st April, currently up to the 29th of September. Soloists, ensembles, choirs, organists and pianists, classical or contemporary…all are welcome!

I would love to hear from you about when YOU (or your choir/ensemble) would like to perform! Please email me as soon as possible, with your preferred dates. First come, first served!

Please also share this notice (and the attached general poster) to any of your musical friends who might like a chance to take part in this year’s programme.


BASh Choir (Beer and Shanties choir) to Sing for ‘CALM’ charity

Local choir director Rosa Malone will be leading a unique six-week singing project in preparation for a performance at the end of March in support of ‘CALM’ Campaign Against Living Miserably. CALM is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of eighteen deaths a day.

Rosa, who was raised in Petersfield and studied at Trinity College of Music, has been directing choirs, in Greece, including the Lefkas Shanty Men, for six years. She specialises in making choral singing fun, inspirational and open to all people, regardless of their experience. In addition to regular choir practices, Rosa runs singing retreats in the Greek Islands, holds online singing tutorials and regular workshops.

Rosa is putting together the BASh Choir – Beer and Shanties choir – for blokes. The aim is to get guys together once a week for a couple of drinks and a few hearty songs. All of the music can be learned by ear, meaning that the group will be open to anyone, regardless of experience.

She said, “I love sea shanties. It’s very evocative music but the songs are also so accessible and easy to pick up. There is such a rich maritime tradition in the area, with so many people having links to the Navy or sailing, that it seemed like the perfect place to set up a one-off sea shanty choir. I hope that as a unique, short-term project without a long-term commitment, this will be something a little bit different that guys could do with their mates, brothers or dads. It’ll be a great way to meet lots of like-minded people, sharing the community experience, whilst improving your voice with a pint in hand!”

The six-week course will be held at Portchester Yacht Club, every Thursday, 7:30-9pm. Rosa will also be running a free taster session for people to come and see what it’s all about on 20/2/20. The fee for the whole project will be £40.

Information for booking and further details can be found at

Also see and @VocalLibre on Facebook and Instagram.

Other related articles:
Your Chance to Sing World Music
Women to Sing for ‘Refuge’

Organ Recital Series to raise funds for historic Walker Organ at St Mary’s


The St Mary’s Music Foundation holds concerts to raise money for music education work with local children, and also supports which seeks to preserve the famous 125-year-old Walker organ in St Mary’s Church, Portsea, for the local community and future generations.

An Organ Recital Series is being held to support this project. Recitals will usually start at 7.30pm on the first Thursday of each month (unless otherwise stated), free entry, enjoy a glass of wine, donations gratefully received in aid of The Organ Project.

The recitalist in the organ loft is instantaneously projected onto a large screen, which makes for gripping viewing!

There will be regular organ recitals at St Mary’s Church during 2020, as follows:

Thu, 13 Feb 7:30pm David Oldfield
Thu, 12 Mar 7:30pm Philip Drew and David Hansell (Organ Duets)
Thu, 2 Apr 7:30pm Gary Sieling
Fri, 8 May 10:00am Brian Moles and Matt Dixon
Thu, 3 Sep 7:30pm George Richford
Thu, 1 Oct 7:30pm John Sharples

Further details will be made available closer to these dates.

Read an earlier post about this project.

Petersfield Musical Festival: Festival of Young Composers 2019-2020

An ambitious piece for string quartet and piano by Laurence Horwood won first place at this year’s biennial Festival of Young Composers on February 1st in Petersfield’s United Reformed Church.

Adjudicator Jonathan Willcocks (President of Petersfield Music Festival) praised the composition – called ‘the Island’ – for its idiomatic string writing, rhythmic vitality and varied textures. Laurence, who played the cello in the quartet, received a prize of £100 and thrilled the audience with his sophisticated musical imagination.

The runner up, William Hammond, won £50 for his atmospheric piano solo, ‘Lasting Memory’. Dr Jill Jarman, of Chichester University, said the composition showed beautiful harmonic language and was expressive and moving.

The other contestants, Joseph Slinn and Sebastian Clark played their own works for solo piano and violin respectively. Joseph chose a rag-time theme and Sebastian an illustrative piece about getting up in the morning to his alarm clock and going to school, titled ‘Monday Morning.’

Unusually this year, all the composers were under 14 years old. They were all in the fourteen and under category.

Petersfield Musical Festival Chairman Philip Young complimented all the competitors for their dedication and creativity. Writing – and finishing – a complete piece of music is, in itself, a significant achievement, he said. The variety of the pieces was noted, each composer mastering their chosen idiom and instrument.

The three adjudicators had studied the scores before the performances and gave useful tips on musical notation, use of relevant software and how to develop ideas contained in the pieces further.

Image: Jonathan Willcocks, Dr Jill Jarman and Philip Young with the contestants

The Hanover Band and Chichester Conservatoire: the Beethoven 250 project


For the past three years, music students at the University of Chichester have been able to perform with mentors from The Hanover Band who have led intensive 3-day orchestral courses exploring a variety of repertoire.

The Hanover Band includes some of the best period instrument specialists in the UK. They are considered to be some of the best in their field. Their performances and recordings have been described as ‘revelatory, luscious, outstanding and illuminating’. The group have gained an enviable niche for themselves within the early music movement as one of the UK’s finest period instrument orchestras and the Band is committed to education work and passing on their enthusiasm and knowledge to the next generation of music lovers.

Their project ‘Nurturing the Next Generation’ has led to the appointment of the Hanover Band as Orchestra in Residence at the University of Chichester Conservatoire in April 2019, leading the way to an exciting and innovative new collaboration entitled ‘Basically Beethoven’. This new project is designed to celebrate two important anniversaries taking place in 2020 – the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven and the 40th anniversary of the founding of The Hanover Band.

‘Basically Beethoven’ comprises a set of credit-bearing modules in historic performance which can be engaged with at any level of study. The three-year programme, which will explore each Beethoven symphony, started in September 2019. These modules are designed to work across theory and practice, encouraging students to combine analytical and historical research of Beethoven’s music with their own practical orchestral experiences.

These modules will also allow students to choose areas of study which prove to be of particular interest to them, developing their own independent research skills and applying them to their performance and assessments.

The modules will offer students invaluable opportunities to engage with the orchestral works of Beethoven under the experienced guidance of Hanover Band mentors. Through intensive orchestral courses students will be introduced to original 18th and 19th-century instruments or modern replicas, the playing techniques associated with these instruments and current research and thinking in Classical and Romantic performance practice. Each intensive orchestral course will culminate in a concert in which students will perform a symphony and other orchestral works alongside their Hanover Band mentors, allowing them to put into practice the research and practical experiences engaged with over the three-day intensive courses.

Module co-ordinator Dr Catherine Crisp said “The first intensive orchestral course as part of the new ‘Basically Beethoven’ collaboration took place from 28th-30th October. During these three days, 30 enthusiastic students prepared performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, Overture to Egmont and Romanze in F, alongside 11 Hanover Band mentors and led by conductor Steve Threlfall.

“Students were able to experiment with different approaches to historical performance practice, see, hear and, in some cases, perform on earlier forms of their own instruments and become increasingly aware of the performance techniques associated with them. Students were also able to gain inspiration and ideas from their mentors to aid them in choosing a focus and preparing their assessments for the ‘Basically Beethoven’ modules.”

For more information about the Hanover Band’s ‘Beethoven 250’ project which includes ‘Basically Beethoven’ please visit

“Basically Beethoven” concert on 19 February
“Basically Beethoven” concert on 17 April

Havant Orchestras – An education in music – an interview with Robin Browning


Ahead of Havant Chamber Orchestra’s concert on 8th February, Stella Scott invited Robin Browning to share his thoughts on music education.
(With apologies from Stella – the ‘Clock’ Symphony is actually on the GCSE syllabus, not A-Level, but Robin’s comments are relevant nonetheless!)

SS: We chose Haydn’s ‘Clock’ Symphony because it’s on a current A-level syllabus. However, a study reported (in May 2019) that the numbers taking this exam have fallen by 35% across the country. As a passionate educator yourself, do you have any magic solution to offer to the current crisis in music education?

RB: Well, that’s a tough one. Ultimately, arts subjects such as music are increasingly marginalised within the curriculum, so there’s inevitably far less uptake by the time students reach A level. Studies show time and time again that music brings incredible value to a youngster’s education, yet there’s less and less encouragement to work on it as a subject. I see it all over the place, whether with youth orchestra members, teenage instrumental learners, and even at university level: a huge thirst for understanding what they’re playing, yet no clear way of quenching it, and insufficient opportunity for rigorous study of it as a subject. My experience of working with undergraduate conductors is that, progressively over the years, their depth of musical knowledge has become more and more shallow. I have to fill in more blanks than ever, things which were once covered during their pre-university study.

And if youngsters aren’t pursuing it at GCSE, then obviously, by sixth form, there will be less impetus to continue. It’s all very well restricting curriculum to core elements, and hoping we’ll produce world-leading doctors and lawyers, but we also need artists, poets and musicians. I could say a lot about this, as I feel very strongly and I’m the first to agree that, yes, it is a crisis, but now is not the place to get too political!

SS: What were your own early music education experiences like? Did all your family play or were you unusual?

RB: My father read a bit and sang in local choral societies. Mum was a meandering pianist. But both were music-lovers and I’m indebted to them for exposing me to Scarlatti and Sinatra from a very early age. I started very late: only well into secondary school did I begin violin lessons, at age 12. But I moved fast (leaving half my technique behind) and got beyond grade 8 by 15. I was writing songs and playing in dodgy 80’s pop bands, too. I was lucky in that, despite being at a relatively isolated rural comprehensive in Yorkshire, I had some inspirational music teachers who opened a vast array of doors in my mind. But I guess I am a little unusual in that there’s no family line of artists or musicians. I’m the only one I know, apart from a cousin who’s a minor rock star in Canada.

SS: Have any particular teachers inspired you?

RB: So many. My school head of music, as mentioned above, started me on the path to conducting. I learned violin with Herbert Whone who was a bit of a legend, encouraging me to think about art, poetry, even Buddhism and really instilling some core technique when I was a sixth-former. Subsequently, people like Paavo Jarvi, Ben Zander and Sir Charles Mackerras have given me so much guidance and advice over the years. I wouldn’t be the musician I am without them, not even close.

SS: We’re performing this next concert in a church again, but a rather different sort of building to the last one. What’s the best concert hall you’ve ever conducted in?

RB: I’ve played in many across the world, but two stand out. Firstly, the Dvorak Hall at the Rudolfinum in Prague: it has an intimate feel yet incredible acoustic. You can hear so much detail yet the sound is always so refined, never strained. And the other is Snape Maltings: again, partly for its kind acoustics, but mainly just because of how it feels and where it is. Being able to look out of a dressing room window across miles of marshes, at Henry Moore sculptures, before walking onto a stage bathed in warm orangey light to conduct Britten is one of the great memories of my career.

Portsmouth Choral Union on BBC Radio 3

Tune in to BBC Radio 3 on Friday 7 February between 12 noon and 1 p.m. when you can hear two excerpts from a 2017 recording made by Portsmouth Choral Union of “Confitebor Tibi, Domine” by Samuel Wesley. David Gostick was conductor and the PCU was joined by Southern Pro Musica.

Wesley is Composer of the Week all through next week.

It is rare for amateur choirs to feature on programmes such as this, and this broadcast is testament to the high standards achieved by PCU in their performance of this work.

Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum with chorus
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus with Claire Seaton, soprano and chorus

Visit the BBC page.

Find out more about this recording in an earlier Noticeboard post.

A CD is available from the PCU website, price £12.50.

The Guide Awards: Who won what at this year’s celebration of the Portsmouth region’s arts and culture

The winners were announced in a special gala ceremony in front of a packed house at the Kings Theatre in Southsea last night.

The awards were set up to celebrate the best in arts and culture from across our region. And readers voted in their thousands throughout December for their favourites in the 13 different categories, representing music, theatre, art, comedy and film-making.

Read more at the links below.


Winner: Portsmouth Baroque Choir

Runner-up: Portsmouth Choral Union

Read about the background to the awards.

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