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

PCU are singing!

During ‘lockdown’ Portsmouth Choral Union continued to rehearse and keep in touch with one another in a variety of different ways. Zoom rehearsals were enlivened by, amongst other events, quiz nights and online wine tasting. There was a brief return to near-normal rehearsals during lockdowns one and two, and latterly outdoor practices in an open-sided barn on Hayling Island.

Now, with enthusiasm undiminished, we are delighted to be returning to full practices. We have held three practices so far, with attendance increasing each time, and we have also been very pleased to welcome several new members. Our rehearsals are currently being held in St Mary’s Church, though we hope to return to our regular rehearsal venue of The Portsmouth Academy in the New Year.

Our programme for the remainder of 2021 will include a November concert featuring Faure’s Requiem alongside works for string orchestra and this will be followed by a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in December. Further details of both concerts, to be held in St Mary’s Church, will be available shortly on the Choir’s website,

Mark Dancer takes up the directorship of the Portsmouth Festival Choir

Mark Dancer took up the Directorship of the Portsmouth Festival Choir in the spring of 2021 during the choral shutdown caused by Covid-19, having been for some years Assistant Director. He is also currently Director of Music and Organist of St Peter’s Church, Petersfield and Conductor of the Petersfield Choral Society, continuing his long career of choral conducting.

He read music at Durham University and was Organ Scholar of the College of St Hilda and St Bede, studying the organ with Alan Thurlow and David Hill. He holds the Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO) and the Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music (LRAM) in organ performance.

An accomplished singer, Mark’s love of choral music stems from his time as a chorister at Ewell Parish Church (Surrey) and he studied singing with renowned operatic bass Hervey Alan. He joined his first choral society whilst in the sixth form and has been involved with at least one ever since.

As an organist, Mark has performed in St Paul’s Cathedral, Birmingham Cathedral and Town Hall, Portsmouth Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, All Saints, Ryde, etc., as well as for the Petersfield Musical Festival and Portsmouth Festivities. In 2000 he inaugurated a Summer Organ Recital Series at Petersfield Parish Church. After the already-mentioned Covid interruption, he has started the new concert season at the church with a recital of popular classics.

Playing with “sparkle, imagination and a wide dynamic palette”, Mark Dancer is described as a “fine musician and sensitive accompanist” by Ann Pinhey in the Petersfield Post.

He is very much in demand as a choral accompanist and répétiteur by both instrumentalists and singers. Recent performances have included as organist with the Renaissance Choir for their performance of Mozart’s Vespers K339 and Michael Haydn’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah with The Portsmouth Festival Choir and a live-streamed organ recital from St Mary’s, Portsea in May.

2022 will see him perform with piano duet partner Emilie Capulet in the Petersfield Musical Festival, playing works by Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (arranged by Hugo Ulrich).

His YouTube channel, Mark Dancer – Anacrusis Music, set up in 2020, now contains nearly one hundred video recordings of organ works.

Chichester Chamber Concerts return this autumn

Chichester Chamber Concerts have announced a full programme for this autumn and winter, with tickets on sale from Chichester Festival Theatre.

Concerts will be in at the Assembly Room, Chichester, with the 17th season running from October 2021 to March 2022.

Coming up are Thursday, October 7, Barbican Quartet; Thursday, November 4; Northern Chords Ensemble; Thursday, December 2, Le Consort; Thursday, January 27, Van Baerle Trio; Thursday, February 24, Chiaroscuro Quartet; and Thursday, March 10, Matthew Hunt clarinet, Alec Frank Gemmill horn, Chiaroscuro Quartet and Friends. See CCC concerts page.

Tickets for six concerts £84; four concerts £58; single concert £18.

Read more at the link below.

The Portsmouth Chamber Music Series is launched for the 2021-22 season

In 2021 the Portsmouth Chamber Music Series is in its eighteenth season, bringing world-class musicians to the city. In partnership with Music in the Round and the Guildhall Trust, we present the finest music in informal surroundings where you are never more than a few metres from the performers.

Our programme includes a wide variety of music by a wide variety of composers from the 18th century to the present day. A 20% discount is available to those who book the whole series.

Download: Portsmouth Chamber Music 21-22 (1 MB).

We feature six concerts which I hope you will enjoy. The dates are all on Mondays at 7.30 pm:
11 Oct, 1 Nov, 31 Jan, 21 Feb, 21 March, 9 May.

Tickets are now on sale. Ticketmaster is no longer operating a phone ‘service’, but you are encouraged to purchase tickets online where possible (see link below). It is a bit clunky and for example doesn’t allow you to purchase a season ticket together with single tickets in a single transaction. It also separates out the various fees, but if you add them up, the end result is as per our advertised prices which have remained the same for three years now (£18/£16 conc, with a 20% discount if you book a season ticket), with the addition of a £1.75 handling fee. Postage is only charged if you don’t want an e-ticket or to pick up from the box office on the night.

Those who still wish to book by phone can do so Mon-Thur 10am-3pm via the Guildhall Box Office on 023 9387 0200, and of course personal callers are also welcome.

New series of musical events at St Peter’s Church, Petersfield

Please visit the St Peter’s performer’s page to find out more.

Chichester Music Society’s August 2021 Newsletter

This month’s edition discusses:

• Our next event with The Champagne Quartet will be going ahead as planned on 15th September. A wonderful way to celebrate the start of our Autumn season!
• The additional event with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars will be going ahead on 22nd September.
The Autumn programme is confirmed. The subscription for this series is £40, for members re-joining and new members. See the CMS website for full details.

Chairman’s Blog

Our Autumn season gets off to a strong start on 15th September with The Champagne Quartet and on 22nd September with the postponed lecture/recital from Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars. Non-members can subscribe for these and the October and November concerts at a special rate of £40. As was the case last year, members will receive full credit for any cancelled events against the cost of next year’s renewal.

The AGM was held on 9th June, preceding the concert with Tanya Ursova and Anna Gorbachyova. The Report and Accounts for 2020 were distributed to members during April. The accounts have now been examined by the Society’s Independent Examiner and some small changes made, the deficit has been reduced by £211 to £9504 for the year. A copy of the final accounts is available here.

Whilst we hope to be back to normal in the autumn with a full audience and interval refreshments, given the ongoing situation our programme may be subject to disruption and we will continue to live stream all our events.

This has been a very difficult year for our Society but fortunately, due to the support of members and generosity of donors, our financial position is secure. The Committee has developed an excellent programme for 2022 including some new faces as well as established friends. Full details will be published soon.

I look forward to seeing you all again on 15th September!

Touring, new commissions and further livestreams: the BSO announces ambitious autumn season

The BSO announces its new Autumn Season and will once again be touring in person, bringing live symphonic music to communities across the South West.
The new, ambitious season includes many notable moments including a triptych of new works written by women, including Carmen Ho, Elizabeth Ogonek and Franghiz Al-Zadeh as well as horn player Felix Klieser beginning his tenure as the Orchestra’s Artist-in Residence, in what will be his UK concerto debut. Chief Conductor, Kirill Karabits, opens the season, returning with four programmes this autumn.

Concerts in Portsmouth Guildhall:

Beethoven with Sunwook – 21 October
Wigglesworth conducts Mahler, Shostakovich and Sibelius – 11 November

Read more at the link below.

Image: BSO Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits (c)Mark Allan

PCU – “Farmyard Hullaballoo”

On the eve of their much anticipated first live practice for many months, Portsmouth Choral Union fell foul of the sudden change to government guidelines concerning choirs, singing and rehearsal numbers.

With enthusiasm undiminished, it was decided that the weekly ‘Zoom’ rehearsal schedule would continue, with singers being encouraged to get together in groups of six wherever possible. However, several members of the ever-resourceful PCU committee soon came up with an alternative solution to the live rehearsal issue, whilst still remaining within the Covid restrictions.

A large ‘open sided’ barn, that allowed an appropriately socially distanced live rehearsal, was made available for the choir’s use. And so for the final three practices of the summer, surrounded by bales of hay and a cornucopia of farmyard animals, conductor David Gostick shepherded his singers through choruses from Haydn’s Creation and a selection of familiar and unfamiliar anthems by, amongst others, Mozart, Bruckner, Rossini and Rachmaninoff – though with cattle ‘lowing’ in the distance, not performing ‘Away in a Manger’ was possibly a missed opportunity.

Members of the choir are now looking forward to being able to resume regular, full practices in September.

Petworth Festival hoping for the best, but ready to take a hit

Organisers of the 2021 Petworth Festival are pinning their hopes on the lifting of all restrictions on July 19.

The festival will go ahead either way, but without full lifting, it will certainly take a hit.

Stewart Collins, Petworth Festival’s artistic director, has put together an exciting programme on a scale similar to the programme he would have been offering in a normal year.

The problem, of course, is that this is not a normal year.

Read more at the link below.

Events will run between July 14 and 31.

The wide-ranging line-up of leading musicians and performers includes:

· Classical star-of-the-moment, saxophonist Jess Gillam, who appears with her new ensemble as part of their debut tour

· Multi-million selling author, comedian and former NHS doctor Adam Kay who brings his West End hit show This is Going to Hurt

· Living legends on the blues circuit, The Blues Band, fronted by Paul Jones who perform in the atmospheric Stable Yard of Petworth House

· Theatre-cabaret show Radio Live! a romp through 50 years of BBC Radio with Alistair McGowan, The Rev Richard Coles, Garry (‘here’s Garry with the sport’) Richardson, Charlotte Green and special guest Joe Stilgoe

· The Petworth Festival Summer Weekend, two days of free family theatre, hands-on participatory workshops, street acts and live music staged in the Pleasure Garden of Petworth House by permission of the National Trust

The box office is online 24/7 at or on 01798 344576 Tues-Sat, 10am-1pm.


The Renaissance Choir is looking to develop the musicians of the future through a bursary scheme

We love choral singing. We want future generations to enjoy it too. For this reason, we run an annual bursary scheme for young singers.

Our choral bursary scheme is ideal for aspiring young singers wishing to develop their choral singing within a small, highly accomplished chamber choir.

Two bursaries are awarded each September and last for one year, although an application can be renewed for one consecutive year. Auditions are held in July and August.

These bursaries are open to people aged from 18 to 25 who live within a 25-mile radius of Emsworth, Hampshire.

Read more at the link below.

‘Boissier: Two Piano Concertos and a Sonata’ CD by Valentina Seferinova

Hello people – at long last my latest CD – number 14 ! – the one I made in Lviv, Ukraine, with the Ukrainian Festival Orchestra under Grammy-winning conductor John McLaughlin Williams, and in a recording studio in Paris – just over 2 years ago, has finally been released.

It’s delay has been caused by Covid issues along the way – but has now received its first international review.

Its title is ‘Boissier; Two Piano Concertos and a Sonata’.

The first in-depth and fantastic review has appeared online at Music Web International. The review is mostly an analysis of the music; and of the composer himself.

Here are some edited extracts relevant to the actual recordings.

“I clicked on the first of the available samples out of interest, but literally couldn’t believe my ears. The start was exactly like hearing the ‘Warsaw Concerto’ all over again, and as I then avidly played through the remaining samples, I quickly realised that the musical content of the disc was something quite different from what I’d initially imagined it to be.… ”.

“The highly-committed performances from the Ukrainian Festival Orchestra are very much at one with the composer’s intentions, with inspired American conductor, John McLaughlin Williams, constantly keeping them on their toes, and extracting the maximum pizazz from each section.”

“In Bulgarian pianist Valentina Seferinova, Boissier has a fine exponent to deal with the powerful style of writing, which frequently leans more towards the massive chordal writing in Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto, ………”

“The absolutely first-rate recordings are most vivid and additionally add to the Boissier’s total credibility and overall appeal of his works.”

“You could become instantly smitten by what you hear ….”—Philip R Buttall, MusicWeb International

Elsewhere it’s apparently receiving plenty of airtime in the USA and across Europe (where someone says “just luxuriate in it!”)

Suggest you seek out samples of each track – widely available across the internet – including on the ‘Latest News’ page of my website then make up your own mind! before making your final decision.

Read an earlier Noticeboard item.

Read more about Valentina.

Review: Chichester Music Society: Tanya Ursova (piano) & Anna Gorbachyova (soprano)

See associated Noticeboard item.

The Chichester Music Society had their first 2021 Concert that finally had a live audience, and as usual the Society met at the University of Chichester, where 30 members and guests attended on 9 June. The artists were Anna Gorbachyova-Ogilvie [soprano – right in photo] and Tanya Ursova [piano].

The programme was a fascinating mixture of Russian, German and French songs, involving music by well-known composers such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov, Richard Strauss and Poulenc. Interestingly they also included music by other lesser-known composers such as Henri Duparc, and Anna chose his Chanson Triste to open this concert. Immediately the audience was captivated by her confident and dramatic conviction, her volume, which, when needed, was impressive, and her ability to temper this appropriately according to the demands of the music.

Another particularly interesting choice was In the Autumn, a piece which was written by Georgy Sviridov who only died in 1998. Much of his career had been spent working in the Soviet era, but this piece was part of the New Folk Wave, and Anna and Tanya together created a memorable performance which demanded both sensitivity and emotional musical scene painting.

Anna sang throughout with both technical fluidity and produced some highly polished singing with a voice full of emotional intensity, which was particularly noticeable in her rendition of Richard Strauss’ Three Songs of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet Opus 67.

Tanya Ursova’s accompaniment was fluid and at times fiery, at times breathtakingly haunting, always anticipating the mood of each piece, and she was a perfect instrumental companion. She also played a piano solo by Rachmaninov that was well chosen to demonstrate her ability to articulate both poignant, moving music, as well as light-hearted crescendos and more melodic themes.

The concert programme ended with a sensitive performance of Poulenc’s Fiancailles pour Rire where much of the music was anxious and wistful. The Duo ended the concert with an encore by Gershwin that certainly lightened the mood.

This concert was a prime example of what the Chichester Music Society does best, which is to introduce our members to new music, as well as reminding them of old favourites. Chairman, Chris Hough, thanked the two musicians “for giving the Society a wonderful evening of marvellous music”, also thanking Tanya Ursova for her valuable work on the detailed programme notes and translations which greatly added to the audiences understanding & enjoyment of the music.

Full Petworth Festival classical listings available on this site

Please see the listings here.

Read a summary here.

Holy Trinity Church, Gosport: Concert and Recital programme going forward

Considering the awful year or so we have all experienced, I am in the enviable position of needing to book musicians for our recital and concert programmes for 2022; also, owing to last minute changes, for our August recital on Monday 16th August 2021 and tea-time concert on Sunday 5th September.

Do please let me know if you are interested in taking part in our concert or recital programme and if you are available for dates this year or next.

Chichester Music Press: Phos Hilaron

Two terrific new pieces for you this time.

Phos Hilaron – A song of the light – Robert Fielding (pictured)

This is a setting of O gladdening light for unaccompanied SSATB, as sung by the RSCM Millennium Youth Choir and broadcast on the BBC’s Choral Evensong programme from Romsey Abbey. The text is the oldest hymn still in use, and was considered ‘old’ by St Basil the Great, who himself died in 379AD.

This whirlwind of a piece has a wonderfully exciting rhythmical drive, and harmonic colours derived from the text.

View the score and have a listen at

I say unto you which hear – Martyn Noble
For SATB and organ.

Text from St Luke’s Gospel, containing the vivid passage “And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again”. The music contrasts the distinction between good and evil by varying tempo, volume and dissonance.

View the score and have a listen at

A summer of live music: the BSO welcomes audiences back to the concert hall

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) continues its pioneering livestream broadcasts with a further series of five concerts from Lighthouse, Poole. The series of popular classics runs from Thursday 10 June to Saturday 12 August, featuring everything from Tchaikovsky and Mozart to Hollywood favourites.

For full details and tickets visit To find out what’s on go to

Read more at the link below.

Please can the government stand up for non-professional choral singing?

Please read the letter that I am sending to my MP today.

Making Music has just published details of its own campaign, and parliamentary question with notes.

Sign the petition at – Let Choirs Start Singing Again: Singing Will Rebuild National Well-Being


You may be aware of the Stage 3 guidance issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) this week concerning the specific restrictions on non-professional choral singing. I feel that such activity has been singled out for harsh treatment.

All the industry organisations (for example Making Music) had been briefed by DCMS that the restrictions would be the same as they were from July to November 2020, namely that non-professional choral singing would be permitted, within constraints such as bubbles.

Accordingly, just about every choir in the country made arrangements to resume in-person singing this week in subgroups of 30 or so. Please note that there are over 2,000,000 choral singers in the UK.

Instead, we have suddenly been informed by DCMS that non-professional singing is only allowed for up to six people, irrespective of the size or nature of the space, the arrangements in place or the demographic involved. The choir I sing with had elaborate safety plans and risk assessments all ready to go. This has all been for nothing.

Since the initial scapegoating of singing as the villain of the Covid disaster, there has been solid research carried out under the auspices of Public Health England about the risks and how they can be managed. Singing groups have responded to this research wholeheartedly.

For the restrictions to be more stringent than they were last November does not make sense. Case numbers have fallen, asymptomatic testing is well established, and given the demographic of the vast majority of UK choirs, where membership is predominantly in the 50+ age range, only a very small minority remains unvaccinated.

There’s no logic to all this. It’s legal to sing in a crowd at football matches. You can go to a pub and sing. Anyone can sing in the street – but not if you’re in a choir. It is not logical for choral singing, in a well ventilated, controlled space with 2m social distancing, to be considered to be riskier than going to the pub or a gym. Brass bands can get together but amateur singers can’t. And Public Health England hasn’t stated that singing should be banned.

I would be obliged if you could take my concerns to the relevant minister (Caroline Dinenage) directly, and also consider asking a parliamentary question. It would be great if you could let me know whether you can support me in this respect.


Parliamentary question: see Making Music’s briefing on this
Caroline Dinenage is the Minister of State for Digital and Culture


Petworth Festival – Back Live!

Having made the best of 2020 when presenting a part live, part streamed ‘special edition’ festival last October/November, the momentum behind the ever-ambitious Petworth Festival looks set to continue this coming summer. Read the Petworth-Festival-Brochure-Summer-2021-Lo-Res.

Events will run between Wednesday 14 and Saturday 31 July, the wide-ranging line-up of leading musicians and performers includes:

  • Classical star-of-the-moment, saxophonist Jess Gillam, who appears with her exciting new ensemble as part of their debut tour
  • Multi-million selling author, comedian and former NHS doctor Adam Kay who brings his West End hit show This is Going to Hurt
  • Living legends on the blues circuit, The Blues Band fronted as ever by the great Paul Jones who perform in the atmospheric Stable Yard of Petworth House
  • Five-star theatre-cabaret show Radio Live! – a romp through 50 years of BBC Radio with the all-star cast of Alistair McGowan, The Rev’d Richard Coles, Garry (‘here’s Garry with the Sport’) Richardson, Charlotte Green and special guest Joe Stilgoe
  • The Petworth Festival Summer Weekend, two days of free family theatre, hands on participatory workshops, ‘street’ acts and live music staged in the Pleasure Garden of Petworth House by kind permission of the National Trust.

Read At-A-Glance-2021 which lists all events.

Acknowledging and being sensitive to the realities of emerging from the pandemic, a series of measures will be introduced to ensure the maximum audience comfort and safety:

  • Thorough cleaning of all festival venues will be the rule
  • Indoor venue capacities will be capped initially at 50% rising to 75% as conditions allow
  • Performing fees are not being reduced – the artists have suffered enough!
  • A 10% ticket surcharge will apply for this festival only to help mitigate the above

Other names to conjure with in the line-up include top drawer classical artists Emma Johnson and Adrian Brendel, pianists Imogen Cooper and Isata Kanneh-Mason, leading British singers Mark Padmore and Susan Bullock and an ensemble from the UK’s first majority-Black and ethnically diverse orchestra Chineke!

Jazz comes in the shape of Si Cranstoun and the Dynamo Quartet, both of whom star in the annual Jazz in the Stables extravaganza; powerhouse chanteuse Liane Carroll and her Trio will also feature as will The Dominic Alldis Trio who present their tribute to the great French jazz innovator, Jacques Loussier.

The third Petworth House Stables event sees a two-part celebration of The Music of Paul Simon, the songs of Simon & Garfunkel being performed by the duo Bookends, and the seminal Graceland album performed by Gary Stewart and his exciting seven-piece ensemble.

The festival celebrates a sixth year in association with London’s Royal Academy of Music, with specially selected musicians appearing as part of an extensive lunchtime and morning Coffee Concert series.

‘There’s no doubt that the lack of live performance has been one of the huge downsides of the last 18 months’ says Stewart Collins, the Petworth Festival’s Artistic Director, ‘but I’m proud to say that we’ve held our nerve and come up with a programme that really should both inspire and entertain come July given its quality, variety and novelty. Every effort will be made to ensure that our audiences feel comfortable back in our venues, but otherwise it is not just ‘business as usual’ – more like ‘business unusual!’ Our aim is always to prove just how powerful and life-affirming live performance can be, and with our series of highly contrasting events I really think our audiences will realise immediately what we have all been missing’.

The Petworth Festival gratefully acknowledges the support of the many private and corporate sponsors of the festival who helped the organisation survive 2020 and who have come back strongly in 2021.

The Box Office opens on Tuesday 15 June (priority booking period for Sponsors, Patrons and Friends from 18 May). From 15 June Book Online 24/7 at or from 15 June call the Box Office on 01798 344576 Tues – Sat, 10am – 1pm.

Havant Music Festival returns for a June weekend

The Havant Music Festival is returning for a 4th season this June, hosting a 3-day event for music aficionados who want to experience live music once again after a challenging year in lockdown.

Its 2021 line-up this year, all being well with the government’s roadmap, will feature a series of Acoustic Jazz and Classical Music concerts performed at venues across the Borough of Havant and a Live Stream Music Concert for local artists, singers, and musicians to promote and share their music with a wider audience.

Further information about the events and ticketing will be available on the HMF website soon.

June 2021 line-up

• Friday 25 June from 7-9pm – Live Facebook Music Concert for local artists across the Borough’s music scene to showcase their talents in collaboration with ChartHouse Music Studio and Websitesforyou Group.
• Saturday 26 June from 3:15-5pm – Classical concert with Peter Rogers (guitar) & Beryl Francis (piano) at St James Church in Emsworth.
• Saturday 26 June from 7:30-9:15pm – An evening of Acoustic Jazz with Astrid M Music at The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre in Havant.
• Sunday 27 June at 3:15-5pm – The Lost Harp Music of Victorian England by Elizabeth-Jane Baldry at St James Church in Emsworth.
• Sunday 27 June evening concert still to be announced.

Faith Ponsonby, Festival Chairperson said: “Many of us are desperate for live music & performing arts to return to the stage and really chase away the blues of COVID. So, Havant Music Festival is back at last after over 2 years of waiting, to give you a taster of much more to come in the future.

“This June, we will be live streaming some short performances of some talented local people on Friday evening, 25th June, and putting on two concerts on Saturday 26th June, there will be live performances of a classical music recital on piano and guitar from Beryl and Peter, and a performance from Astrid M Music, with Astrid’s unique repertoire of soulful acoustic jazz and pop to entertain you in the evening.

“On Sunday 27th June, Elizabeth-Jane Baldry will delight us once again with her magical harp, and then we hope our own Urban Vocal Group, who were the inspiration for the Festival nearly 5 years ago, will end the mini-series of concerts on Sunday 27th June with uplifting songs that will utterly amaze you. So come and enjoy real music once again at the end of June and watch this space for our exciting plans for this Autumn and Spring 2022.”

Chantry Quire: sing with us!

The Chantry Quire is a small Chamber Choir of 24 voices, based in Sussex and directed by Peter Allwood. We perform a wide repertoire, from early music to contemporary works. You can find out more about us on our website.

We are very much looking forward to singing live again this summer. We are currently seeking to recruit two basses to join us for this new season, in time for our summer concert on 3rd July in St Mary’s Church, Horsham. Ideally you will have experience in singing in a small choir environment, and will either have good sight-reading skills or be a quick learner. Applications from other voices are, of course, always welcome.

If you are interested in joining us, then follow this link: You will be invited by our musical director to submit an online audition. We normally rehearse at the Cathedral Centre in Arundel at 7.30 pm on Tuesdays; the postcode is BN18 9AY.

The Solent Male Voice Choir seeks an accompanist!

The Solent Male Voice Choir seeks an accompanist for regular Tuesday evening practices and six to eight concerts per year.

We are a choir of around 24 voices singing a wide repertoire of music for male voice choirs.

Working closely with our Music Director Huw Thomas, as well as accompanying the choir, there will be opportunities to lead the choir.

There is a small remuneration for practices and for concerts. We practice in The Pallant Centre, Havant Tuesday evenings, 7.30pm to 9.30pm.

More information about the SMVC is available on our website

Please contact David McVittie,

CD released featuring music by Corentin Boissier and played by Valentina Seferinova

Finally, my 14th CD has at long last been released for worldwide distribution – itself having been delayed by the Covid pandemic. It’s the one I recorded in Lviv, Ukraine and Paris – some 2 years ago. Today, finally, CDs have arrived from Naxos in Germany!!

The gorgeous Corentin Boissier’s Piano Concertos were recorded with the wonderful Ukrainian Festival Orchestra conducted by the brilliant and most amazing John Mclaughlin Williams. The dramatic and passionate Piano Sonata Appassionata – CD, released on the Toccata label…

Absolutely thrilled – holding it in my hands! Now proudly taking space on one of the shelves in my music room.

Available in multi formats (CD, MP3, FLAC, HD WAV) on the ToccataClassics label.

You can hear a sample of every track if you go to my website ‘Latest News’ page – a scroll down a little bit.

It is already attracting very encouraging comments, with the owner of another record company saying, “I have just listened to the excerpt – sent shivers down my spine – gorgeous playing as always.”

The original Recording Engineer’s comments on the post-recording processing and mastering – “the sound has a vinyl-like quality” (a high compliment!.)

Read a later Noticeboard item about this CD.

Read more about Valentina.

Festival of Chichester 2021 line-up unveiled

A fantastic range of events will go sale on Saturday 8 May as the Festival of Chichester opens its box office for business.

Dame Penelope Keith, Kate Mosse and Loyd Grossman, the Castalian Quartet, pianist Young-Choon Park, guitarists Linda Kelsall-Barnett and Rob Johnson, the Charlotte Glasson Jazz Trio, the Rude Mechanical Theatre Company, a virtual Summer Feel Good Show from CAOS, poet Vicki Feaver and Chichester Art Society will all be taking part.

The 2021 festival will run from Saturday, June 12 to Sunday, July 11.

The virtual box office launch will be from 1830 to 1900 on Friday, May 7. This event will be held on Zoom. Anyone wishing to attend should contact

Read more at the link below.

Chantry Quire raises more than £1,000

Our Passiontide video was viewed 775 times during the month it was online. There were lots of lovely comments, and over £1000 was raised for the Aldingbourne Trust. Thanks to all our generous donors. While the full video is no longer publicly available (due to contractual commitments to our soloists), the four motets are all still available on our YouTube channel.

Making a video from our own homes was a new experience, and quite challenging; however, we were all delighted with the results. But we are eagerly awaiting getting back to live singing, and we have several concerts planned:

• 3rd July, St Mary’s Church, Horsham: ‘There is Sweet Music’ – a programme of madrigals, motets and partsongs
• 27th November, St Mary’s Church, Petworth: Brahms’ German Requiem (performed in memory of all those who have died in the pandemic)
• 8th January, St Mary’s Church, Slindon: A programme for Epiphany.

We hope to see you there!

Chichester Music Society: University of Chichester Student Showcase Concert cancelled

It is with real regret that I have to inform you that we are not able to proceed with our Student Showcase concert on Tuesday 20th May. Unfortunately, the committee has had a very low number of candidates and we do not feel that it is possible to proceed with the competition this year.

The continuing Covid crisis has made life very difficult for students at the university. Students are finding that it is difficult to rehearse with accompanists and prepare for their concerts and additionally the university has had to work remotely with its students for many weeks. Whilst we have had a number of auditions using video, there are simply not enough of them to make a proper event.

This is very disappointing news for all of us, especially as the situation created by the pandemic is at last improving for many of us in the UK and the rules relating to indoor public performance are being relaxed (although is was unlikely that we would be able to have a live audience for this event in any case). My apologies to all members and friends.

Concerts at St. Peters are returning!

Dear Concert Supporters,

A year after the first coronavirus lockdown, the people at St Peter’s Church are preparing plans to re-start the much-loved concert programme in the church.

Many of you will have heard the sad news of the death of David Francombe in 2020, to whom we owe a massive debt of gratitude for setting up the concert series and working tirelessly over the years to bring so much music to the town. A new team, led by Brenda James, is starting work on the continuation of his marvellous project.

You will be delighted to know that Mark Dancer has agreed to perform a special organ recital on Tuesday 17th July 2021 at 2.30pm. His programme will include a mixture of old favourites and feature music by two important composers with significant anniversaries this year: Sweelinck, a baroque virtuoso who died in 1621 and Saint-Saens, he of Carnival of the Animals and the Organ Symphony fame, who died a hundred years ago in 1921. A truly wonderful way to kickstart our concert programme. This is currently allowed under the Church of England’s Covid regulations.

In anticipation of the lifting of coronavirus restrictions in the summer, we are working on plans for a number of concerts in the autumn, and a full programme for 2022 and we would like to keep you informed about what’s coming up.

We look forward to offering you lots more musical delights in the near future!

Would you like to sing with the Renaissance Choir?

The Renaissance Choir is currently on the lookout for new members in all voice parts.

If you’re looking to join an accomplished chamber choir that performs in beautiful venues across the UK and Europe, then the Renaissance Choir could be for you!

We are a friendly and enthusiastic chamber choir that seeks to achieve high standards. New members are always welcome, so if you can read music, hold your own musical line, and would be prepared to sing the occasional solo or sing in a semi-chorus, please do get in touch to find out more.

We aim to perform around five concerts a year as a choir. We rehearse on the day of the concert (generally a Saturday) and on Fridays for around seven or eight weeks before the performance. Rehearsals run from 7.30 to 9.30 pm at Emsworth Community Association, PO10 7DF, a two-minute walk from Emsworth train station and on the 700 bus route. We often round off rehearsals with a few drinks at a nearby pub.

Find out more.

Portsmouth Choral Union welcomes singers!

Do you enjoy singing classical music? Are you looking for a friendly group to share your love of singing? Ever thought about joining PCU? If the answer is yes, then read on!

If you have some experience of singing in a group and reading music, then you are welcome.

At the moment we are continuing to meet each Tuesday evening via a Zoom video link at 7.30 p.m. for about 1 hour or so.

No need to worry about other people hearing you, as singers are muted during the sessions!

The evening includes a fun vocal warm-up; a chance to enjoy singing well known classical music repertoire works e.g., Verdi’s Requiem, and even some time to work on identifying and pitching musical intervals, finding notes in chords and other elements of music to help with sight-reading.

Feeling daunted? Relax, the PCU registrar is here to help. She is happy to answer all your questions and ensure you feel very welcome. Email:

Hanover Band – Chichester University Orchestra streams Beethoven

The Hanover Band writes:

We are also delighted to be back at the University of Chichester this week. After having to cancel our course in February, it has been great to be working with the students again. We’ve been working hard on Beethoven’s 6th Symphony and you can click the link above to watch.

This course is particularly exciting as the whole brass section will be playing on authentic instruments! Jess, 1st horn, was inspired by our course with Gavin in her first year and is now in her masters year and performing part of her final performance on hand horn! The trumpets have been getting to grips with the natural trumpets that were gifted to the university by the Chichester Music Society last year and thanks to Adrian France, our bass trombone player, we have been able to borrow some classical trombones for the trombone students to experience playing.

This is the second year of our collaborative module with the university and the students will be working hard on planning their end of year assessments and picking our musicians brains. Indeed, in this past lockdown, our clarinettist Margaret Archibald has been busy working with the clarinet students online, let’s hope all their hard work pays off this week.

Click the link below to view.

What musicians get up to in lockdown, part 2

Havant Symphony Orchestra’s viola player Vincent Iyengar practised slightly more than he usually does during lockdown. “It gave me a chance to revise playing solo viola works that I’d studied at college. I also tried my hand at the ‘cello for a few months”, he says.

Gerda Wilcox has a flute and piano music studio in North Baddesley. She is also principal flute with the Havant Symphony Orchestra. “My practising went well during lockdown, possibly out of boredom. By way of Facebook’s Flute Etude of the Week community, I discovered a great book of studies by Sarpay Ozcagatay. It’s incorporated a little jazz into my practise diet.” she confides.

“I also learned a bit of videography too and started a YouTube channel which gave me a goal to focus on”, says Gerda enthusiastically.  I took a look at Gerda’s channel. She performs a beautiful rendition of that plaintive Northern Irish air Carrickfergus while harmonising with herself on flute.  As they say in the Emerald Isle, it’s enough to bring tears to a glass eye.

Cath Hutchins, one of the HSO’s first violins, has had little time to practise because she’s been heavily involved with the Cosham Community Larder. The Larder was set up and run by volunteers from St Philip’s Church.

“It’s a food store in a renovated bowling club in Cosham Park. For a £1 registration fee, members from Cosham, Wymering and Paulsgrove can choose ten food items for £3.” Cath says.

“We buy supplies from FareShare who collect surplus goods from supermarkets which are coming up to their ‘best before’ date.  Even with sensible social distancing in force, some mornings are very busy. The shelves are depleted by the afternoon,” explains Cath.

“We are also very grateful to the Highbury Champions for their help in distributing food and those members who offer vegetables directly from their gardens” public-spirited Cath says.

Peter Best, violinist with the Four Strings Quartet, bought a dog during lockdown.  “Affectionately known as ‘the pandemic pup’ Monty is a lovely Border terrier,” says Peter. “It really makes sense to have a companion on my daily exercise walks.”

“I’ve taken him to puppy and junior training sessions and he’s done really well. Some bits are online; others are face-to-face but Monty’s passed with flying colours.”

“The Four Strings Quartet is really popular for weddings and other special occasions but our last gig was in March 2020. Before that our diary was full.  None the less people are booking us for future dates when lockdown is lifted”, Pete says.

Read Part 1.

Sophia Rahman and Catherine Martin on the plight of musicians

The UK government must act now to put arrangements in place to enable musicians and other performing artists and their support teams to travel within the EU without crippling costs and excessive paperwork. Pianist Sophia Rahman, with violinist Catherine Martin, explains what this means in practical terms.

‘A glance through my own accounts for the year ending April 2020 shows that well over two-thirds of my income was either earned within the EU (Austria, Estonia, etc.) or within the UK but with one or more collaborators from the EU. As well as producing foreign earnings, UK musicians touring abroad are a showcase for our country’s rich cultural heritage. When foreign musicians come to the UK to collaborate with us, they are not ‘taking work away’ from British musicians but generating an exchange of ideas which stimulates both sides and offers a chance for unique work to be created. Artistic standards are driven up by such interaction as each party benefits from the opportunity to learn from and inspire the other. The government apparently refused to agree a visa-waiver scheme offered by the EU as it was regarded as opening the door to free movement. Touring is emphatically NOT an immigration issue, as we all wish to return to our home bases after creative interaction; it is an issue of healing and well-being and has huge cultural and economic value.

Because of Covid travel restrictions I have given only two live performances within the EU since March 2020. I am extremely concerned that when these restrictions are eventually lifted the practical difficulties (red tape and associated costs) of touring post-Brexit will spell the permanent loss of a significant part of my income. The performing arts are now struggling with the absence of workable post-Brexit arrangements. When, as directed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, I go on and ask a Brexit-related work question I get a Covid answer. Despite considerable media attention, there is still no sign of any government initiative to solve the potentially much longer-lasting problems that the absence of a visa waiver agreement creates for artists and their touring support network.

As things stand the (non)deal for artists would render my formerly viable performing career unsustainable. The same goes for many other musicians. As the violinist Catherine Martin explains:

“I’ve been doing some maths with regard to what I earned, and where, in the year March 2019 to March 2020. I spent just over a third of my time (37%) rehearsing in the EU for concerts abroad. This includes my teaching abroad and reflects the work that I did for groups based in the EU. I spent just over a third of my time (35%) rehearsing in the UK for concerts in the UK. This includes my teaching in the UK. I spent the rest of the time (28%) doing concerts in the EU but rehearsing in the UK. So, this is the time I spend with UK groups who perform abroad. If I were to lose my work in the EU I’d probably lose half of my income. I am established and successful. I shudder to think how anyone is going to be able to earn a decent income who is just starting out.”

The situation is even more disastrous when you consider the double-whammy that has already hit performers. Work at home has been so limited during the past year due to Covid restrictions, with still no prospect of a return to anything like normal service in the foreseeable future. Moreover, the streaming which the public has relied upon to comfort and ease them through successive lockdowns is not adequately remunerated. To put this last point into perspective, violinist Tasmin Little speaking recently on BBC Radio 5 stated that a year ago from her (then) 700,000 listeners she had garnered a total of £12.34 over a six-month period.

Performing artists and their support crews have been incredibly hard hit by the Covid restrictions. Many of us have not benefited at all from the cultural recovery fund, and many have been excluded from government assistance, though those who have benefited are grateful. Now we urgently need the government to return to the negotiating table and forge a solution to the pressing problem of being denied work in the EU through a Brexit deal that utterly failed to acknowledge the needs of our industry. We have to be able to travel in order to simply do our jobs, to start on a level playing field with our fellow players within the EU and with our co-workers from all fields at home.

Whichever way readers may have voted in the Referendum they certainly would not have intended Britain’s creative industry, the second fastest growing sector of the economy pre-lockdown, to wither in this way. Nobody likes to see businesses go to the wall but imagine if the delicate ecosystem of the arts world, which provided so much solace to people during the extreme times of the pandemic, were to collapse through political mismanagement. If you value access to the performing arts, if you value creativity and the vast support network that sustains it and helps to make life worth living, then support us in the fight for a solution.’

Sophia Rahman

Sophia Rahman made the first UK recording of Florence Price’s piano concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, broadcast on BBC Radio 3. She has recorded Shostakovich’s piano concerto Op. 35 with the Scottish Ensemble for Linn Records and over thirty chamber music discs for a host of international labels including (German) CPO, (Swiss) Guild, Resonus, Dutton/Epoch, Naxos, ASV and Champs Hill. Sophia teaches on the String Masters programme run by the Irish Chamber Orchestra at the University of Limerick’s Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and has also coached at the University of Malta, junior chamber music at the Sibelius Academy, Finland and Lilla Akademien, Sweden, and on a course she designed at the Arvo Pärt Centre, Estonia, especially for young Estonian chamber musicians. She is Artistic Director of the annual Whittington International Chamber Music Festival which brings together distinguished artists from across the globe to play chamber music together in rural Shropshire. After early schooling in the Chichester area, she attended the Yehudi Menuhin School where both student and staff membership was truly international. This created a unique environment for the highest artistic standards to flourish, which developed into a career founded on international exchange of ideas and freedom of artistic expression across borders.

Catherine Martin has been leader of the Gabrieli Consort and Players since 2005, appearing on many award-winning recordings. From 2010 to 2020, Catherine also led Die Kölner Akademie in Germany. From the inception of the Valletta Baroque Festival in 2003, Catherine has had a continual relationship with the Valletta International Baroque Ensemble, going to Malta three times a year to direct concerts with Maltese musicians and give masterclasses. She is a frequent guest leader of Barokkanerne, a baroque orchestra based in Oslo. Catherine has previously taught at the Norwegian Academy of Music, and currently teaches historical violin at the Royal College of Music.

Read their stories at:


What musicians get up to in lockdown, part 1

What diverse and interesting people we musicians are. Hobbled and restrained by lockdown, stopped from playing together, there seems to be no end of things we have turned our hands to.

The Meon Valley Orchestra’s bass clarinettist John Elder grew tired of learning for the sake of learning by Zoom. “I kept up my weekly clarinet lessons on Zoom but I got interested in Jazz. I also recorded harmonising multi-tracks of myself playing Grundman’s Caprice for Clarinets”.

“I’m a keen walker too and I wore out three pairs of trainers covering nearly 2,000 miles over the period,” says John.  An enthusiastic astronomer, John has also taken some amazing photographs of nebulae in the night sky.

“My real salvation has been working part-time in a brewery,” explains John. “I also enrolled for the General Certificate of Brewing and I’m studying for the exam which I will sit in May”, he adds.

MVO flautist, Jaqueline Cope, says that she disciplined herself to practice for an hour every day, extending her ability by tackling works by French composers like Fauré, Poulenc, Saint-Saëns and Meunier.

“During the pandemic I also finished writing a book entitled “Drifting Away”, says Jaqueline. “It narrates my epic, seven-year voyage on an old Nicholson yacht across the Atlantic, through the Caribbean and the South Pacific to far flung-islands like Tonga, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands and the Marquesas. It’s now on sale via Amazon for £5.99 for the Kindle or it’s available as a paperback,” she states.

Havant Symphony Orchestra’s percussionist Sarah Woods has been busy too. She’s been playing more piano, accompanying her Baritone-singing husband and uploading material on YouTube.

“During Advent, with my husband, Kevin we uploaded a carol every day. We’ve also provided pre-recorded music for online worship at our church,” explains Sarah.

Lockdown has not deterred Carla Goodyear, the leader of the HSO’s second violins and an accomplished pianist. “I’ve had the luxury of playing chamber music with friends from all over Europe twice a week using Jamulus, which is free from the latency problems of Zoom or Skype. The group has included various string combinations, oboes and even harpsichord”, she enthuses.

“I’m a former school teacher, so I’ve given my granddaughter Maths lessons. I’ve practised daily Yoga and Pilates, been hiking, gardening and growing Tromboncino courgettes and pumpkins. I’ve also been brushing up my Dutch, the first language of my mother,” relates Carla.

“Having supposedly retired but working one day per week working as a consultant at Queen Alexandra Hospital, I was asked to increase my hours,” says MVO baritone sax player Penny Jordan.  “Now working four days per week I’ve taken on the leadership of the non-Covid department specialising in breast cancer.”

“I’ve been doing Skype lessons with my teacher Ric Woods. He’s also organised sax quartets on Zoom.

“Ric uses software to mix the two sopranos and alto with me on bari.  It’s great fun.” she confides.

Former Royal Marines bandsman and musical director of the Portsmouth Light Orchestra, Ed McDermott, can’t wait to get back to conducting again. “I’ve been practicing my flute for two and a half hours per day and revising music that I haven’t seen for ages. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with new music” he says.

Ed is also a valued member of the Meon Valley Orchestra.

Saxophonist, founder member of the MVO and former GP, Annabel Armstrong is now busy doing anti-Covid vaccinations. Even so, she has kept up playing on her second instrument, the violin.

“Laura Riley, who lives next door, has been giving me lessons. I’ve got to about Grade 4 so I feel that definite progress has been made,” Annabel says.

Initially well-motivated, Lorna Allery, an MVO violinist, lost the impetus and got bored with playing the same things over without anything to work towards.

“Fortunately, because the piano is my first instrument, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of going back to old pieces and working on them,” she says. “I also recorded a violin part for my church which, when added to other parts and singers for Sunday Service, produced lots of favourable comments,” adds Lorna. “I also knitted Teddy nurses for the NHS and jumpers for the grandchildren,” she says proudly.

Alan Fitch, a violinist from the Charity Symphony Orchestra, continues to do computer work from home but he still found time to build a portable pipe organ. He bought it in kit form from the Early Music Shop in 2014.

“I shied away from starting such a complicated Medieval instrument. Its proper name is a portative organ and it’s got leather bellows. I finally plucked up courage in 2020 to build it. I just did it bit by bit during my lunch hours. I assembled a knee harp from a kit as well,” he says.

Another CSO violinist, Mary Hyde, was out on a limb when the school at which she taught closed. “I decided to become semi-retired and got another post as a teaching assistant at a primary school,” she explains.  “I was also given responsibility for a special needs pupil. I’m really enjoying it and I still find time to play with other musicians at safe distances in my garden,” says Mary.

My own lockdown story is rather different. After months of purposeful, daily violin practice I found my driving force ebbing away. Struggling with repetitive, hard graft etudes and scales by Sevcvik and Hrimaly gave me no pleasure at all. My sixth position playing on the G-string sounded more like Banshee wailing than actual music. I found myself putting off my practice periods till later in the day.

Something had to be done. So I bought a book of Kayser’s intermediate and progressive studies which I remembered playing as a teenager sixty six years ago. Coupled with playing old favourite etudes like those of Kreutzer, Wohlfahrt and Mazas, that did the trick. I also discovered material by Jakob Dont; challenging, but not too much so. Hopefully, I’m now back on track.

Ending on a completely different note, during lockdown I got hooked on woodwork on YouTube. From my little, newly-created, joiner’s shop in my house, all manner of useful items are emerging, like garden seats, display shelving for the kitchen, upholstered footstools, storage boxes with dovetail joints, music stands for desks, wooden mallets, frame saws and so forth. I love it and it keeps me busy but it’s still not as good as ensemble playing.

Stuart Reed in his workshop

Read Part  2.

Solent Male Voice Choir: “We are hoping to get back singing soon”

“We are all very anxious to get back to singing”, says SMVC chairman David McVittie. “We have been meeting on Zoom, singing along to tracks played by our MD. but it is not so effective when you cannot actually hear your fellow choristers”.

Solent Male Voice Choir is hoping to resume practices in late June at the Pallant Centre, Havant on Tuesday evenings. It will be great to get back together – singing does so much to lift the spirits and assures us of good mental health.

We are hoping to increase the size of the choir from its present twenty members and newcomers can be sure of receiving a warm welcome. Further information can be gained by contacting our secretary through our website.

Autumn/winter concerts have been arranged for October 30 (St Georges Church, Waterlooville), November 27 (Portchester Methodist Church) and December 14 (the Pallant Centre, Havant).

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 8: recollecting 2019

This is the last of our 2011-2019 retrospectives. We hope you’ve enjoyed revisiting some of the Festival’s activities over the past decade.

Thank you for your interest and support and we look forward to welcoming you to Festival events in the future.

All being well, we shall be announcing a choral workshop for Saturday 25 September and a full-scale Festival in March 2022.

Click on the year below to open our last email of the series with articles, anecdotes, reviews, photographs and links to websites about the Festival’s music and performers.

In this issue:

Plastikes Karekles

George Dyson: The Canterbury Pilgrims

Brahms: Requiem

Claire Martin and Ray Gelato with the Dave Newton Trio

Trumpeter Jonathan Mitra, pianist Rosie Sheppard and saxophonist Victoria Puttock

Petersfield Brass

Petersfield Orchestra: Rachmaninov’s Symphony no. 2.

Youth Concerts

Family Concert

Choral workshop with Ben Parry & Mark Dancer

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 7: recollecting 2016

AChoired Taste / Hampshire Guitar Orchestra

The Rio Grande and Carmina Burana

Mark Dancer

Family Concert

Festival of Young Composers

2015-16 saw the fourth biennial Festival of Young Composers, run in conjunction with the Festival’s Michael Hurd Memorial Fund.

Composers are invited to submit scores, which they perform to a panel of three adjudicators and other listeners. The adjudicating panel in January 2016 comprised Festival president, Jonathan Willcocks, the noted composer Roxanna Panufnik and Festival chairman, Philip Young.

A cross between a celebration and a competition, the event has three age classes, with prizes for the winners and runners-up to spend on furthering their musical development. The outstanding compositions of the year were played again at the Youth Concerts in March: ‘Stormy Seas’ by Shoshana Yugin-Power, aged only nine, ‘Love Passing By’, by singer and guitarist Bethany Magennis-Prior, and ’See You Soon’ by Joel Knee, an A level student who brought an eight-piece jazz band to play his complex and beautifully scored piece.

Shoshana returned to the Youth Concerts in 2019 with her piece ’Three Little Pigs’, for narrator and ensemble. In October last year, she was one of 15 young composers to win the BBC ’30- second Composition Challenge’ as part of the ‘Proms at Home’ season.

Trombonist Joel went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music and to become a member of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

The theme for the choral items in the Youth Concerts 2016 was Shakespeare’s quatercentenary – interpreted broadly enough to include sixteenth-century songs, conducted by Ben Harlan, choruses from West Side Story conducted by Hamish Newport, and 60s rock and roll from Return to the Forbidden Planet! conducted by Edward Williamson with an instrumental ensemble led by Darren Reeves.

Lunchtime Recital with Sara Deborah and Richard Pearce

Mendelssohn, Schubert and Weber

If the Festival’s first choral concert shook things up, the second brought us back to the familiar home territory of the early Romantics.

A workshop a couple of years earlier had introduced the choirs to Mendelssohn’s beautiful Verleih’ uns Frieden and reminded them that his ‘Hear my Prayer’ is more than ‘O for the wings of a Dove’ – beautifully sung in the concert, as in the workshop, by the young soprano and Petersfield resident Olivia Brett.

Weber’s Mass in E flat is not often performed, and ‘one can perhaps see why’, wrote David Francombe, confessing himself ‘strangely underwhelmed’ as a whole, in spite of some excellent choral singing by Fernhurst and Petersfield choral societies and Midhurst Music Society.

The heart of the programme, as it turned out, was Schubert’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony, in which Paul Spicer relished the opportunity to work with the musicians of Southern Pro Musica. His meticulous direction, wrote David, ‘lovingly shaped and crafted this much-loved piece’.

Weber’s penchant for operatic drama and instrumental brilliance were on show – rather more than they were in the Mass – in his Concertino for Clarinet in E flat, played by Keir Rowe with every nuance from magical pianissimo to brilliant virtuosity.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 6: recollecting 2013

Froxfield Choir – African Sanctus

Under their founding director, Elizabeth Gotto (who retired from the Festival Committee last year after many years as Soloists’ Secretary) Froxfield Choir took part in the Festival’s choral concerts between 1997 and 2004.

Conducted by Elizabeth’s successor, Richard Smith, the choir gave a series of ambitious and memorable concerts in High Cross and Privett, including a spectacular performance of David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus in Privett Church in 2011. The Festival invited the choir to bring its performance to the Festival Hall to open the 2013 Festival. Joined by Churcher’s College Junior Chamber Choir, accompanied by the brilliant Backbeat Percussion Quartet, and with technical support from Jane Fanshawe, the choir gave its packed audience an evening of unforgettable colour and excitement, enhanced by the lighting effects of Simon Auty and the Green “A” Team.

Benjamin Britten’s Centenary – Britten: St Nicholas

Both of the 2013 Festival’s Saturday concerts commemorated the centenary of Britten’s birth on St Cecilia’s Day, 22 November 1913.

On the first Saturday, the choirs coupled Britten’s St Nicolas with the Ode on St Cecilia’s Day (1692) by Britten’s great forbear and inspiration, Henry Purcell. Britten achieved in St Nicolas a combination of accessibility and expressive power that is rare among twentieth-century choral works and which has made it a lasting favourite of choral societies.

The performance under Paul Spicer’s direction in 2013 was the third in Petersfield; the Festival performed it first in 1973 under Richard Seal and again in 1987 with Mark Deller conducting.

Britten: Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes

Basingstoke Symphony Orchestra’s association with the Festival began with an all-Beethoven concert in 2008, followed by Mozart’s Requiem in 2009 and Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony in 2011. Alongside the choral music, the programmes have included a variety of orchestral works conducted by the orchestra’s permanent conductor, Stephen Scotchmer – including Stephen’s own Fantasy for Orchestra.

Petersfield Orchestra

What a programme! Petersfield Orchestra‘s Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto no. 2 was of course enough to fill the hall with devotees who had heard it many times. But Piers Burton-Page’s programme note reminded us to listen to it afresh, quoting Hans Keller’s dictum that ‘there are no such things as hackneyed works, but only tired ears’.

The concert opened with a beautiful but less familiar work, the warmly coloured Symphonic Variations by Dvořák.

Young Musicians – Youth and Lunchtime concerts

The 2013 Youth Concerts opened with a selection from Jonathan Willcocks’ Musical Pie. The children enjoyed these snappy songs with their sound effects and question and answer exchanges. However, a group of songs from the very popular show Wicked proved unexpectedly challenging to learn. TPS and Churcher’s College filled the stage with their combined wind band and swing band, and the concert ended with Churcher’s College orchestra playing the Finale of SaintSaëns Organ Symphony and (enthusiastically joined by the choir) Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

John Tams and Barry Coope

The Festival has not often programmed a full evening of folk music, but in booking John Tams and Barry Coope in 2013 they went straight to the top!

John Tams’ work has spanned five decades in every performance medium. He is a recognised authority on vernacular music and a seven-times winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. At the National Theatre he has worked as an actor and musical director/composer on over 30 productions including Lark Rise to Candleford.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 6: recollecting 2018

Rock choir

Bach: St John Passion

Mozart Requiem with Hampshire County Youth Chamber Orchestra

Kit and McConnel

Angela Zanders

Youth Concerts

Tim Ravalde

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Lee Choral Society: keeping the singing going

Richard, Andrew, Angie and Carolyn have all worked extremely hard over the past year to keep the singing going and ensure that we have choirs to go back to eventually. It’s a sad fact that many choirs have folded, some never to return. While we can all appreciate the hard work they do, do any of us really realise exactly what the work of an MD entails, and how it has changed during lockdown?

A friend – ex-journalist and now MD of several choirs up in the Liverpool area – wrote an account of her lockdown choir experience which she has very kindly allowed me to share with you. I think it will make you appreciate our “gang of four” even more! I don’t think it’s very far removed from Richard and Andrew’s experiences at least, for sure!

“Live, full-length concert: prepare score thoroughly, plan rehearsals, rehearse lots, practice on own, perform, enjoy the subsequent adrenaline rush and audience and choir reaction. Relax with a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

Recorded three-minute piece for a virtual choir performance: prepare score thoroughly, record every part (multiple times, with cutting and pasting to correct any bits that are incorrect as you’re not used to singing tenor), record soprano again as levels need tweaking, transpose bass and tenor down an octave, set volume so one part is prominent and export to create rehearsal track, repeat for all other parts, record video of you conducting the piece (multiple takes until you get it spot on, because conducting to an invisible choir is harder), transfer all files to location accessible by whole choir, plan rehearsal, set up all audiovisual equipment, send Zoom link, do rehearsal with all choir on mute, write comprehensive instructions on how to record, watch YouTube tutorials on new video editing software, learn how to use software, receive tracks and videos from choir members, edit together audio, edit together video, make it look pretty, wait three centuries for it to render, wait another three centuries for it to upload to the cloud, then set about making sure the person who needs it has it. Collapse on floor with exhaustion. Tea gone cold due to neglect.

I mean, I’ve learnt lots of new skills, but I will be a happy chappy when I can go back to conducting singers in person..!“

Several members of LCSVirtual belong to the national choral charity organisation Sing for Pleasure. In “normal life” SfP run singing courses and events, plus conductor training, in different parts of the country throughout the year, including a very successful and popular summer school at Keele University in Staffordshire over the course of a week each August. Over the past 12 months they have made the shift to the online world and have run a succession of short series of webinars on a wide range of subjects, in addition to a Virtual Summer School last August. They are now beginning to gear up again for real live events and will soon have some dates on their calendar.


Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 5: recollecting 2012


Organ recital with Carlo Curley

Petersfield Orchestra

Petersfield Orchestra seized the chance of using the Allen organ to programme Saint-Saëns glorious ‘Organ Symphony’, with Richard Barnes as the organ soloist and Hiroko Banks and David Groves playing the piano duet.

Reviewing the concert, Elizabeth Gotto wrote that the orchestra ‘launched into the first item (Dvořák’s overture Carnival) with strength and enthusiasm, giving the concert a rousing start, led by their leader, Helen Purchase’.

In Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake suite, Elizabeth noted that the young Lucy Humphris (now a fine professional trumpeter) ’played with confidence and panache in the ‘Neapolitan Dance’’. ‘Strong strings, wind, brass and percussion’, Elizabeth wrote, ‘all joined together to make the Saint-Saëns symphony an unforgettable experience. The Adagio, with its organ part, gave a feeling of spiritual peace and serenity’.

Supporting young players and composers Petersfield Orchestra welcomes talented young players into its ranks, providing invaluable experience of the excitement and discipline of rehearsing and performing with a full orchestra.

As well as Lucy Humphris, several other young musicians over the past decade have benefited from having this opportunity on their doorstep, including composer George Venner, who has been a regular attender at rehearsals.

Some years ago, recalls conductor Robin Browning, the orchestra ran two workshop rehearsals with some of George’s early orchestrations. Between the rehearsals, George revised his score in the light of the issues the first session had brought to light, and on the second occasion ‘we were adeptly able to turn it into orchestral sound right off the bat’.

George’s Three Paronomasias for two clarinets and piano four hands were recorded last year by Rob Blanken (principal clarinet of Petersfield Orchestra) and Emma Alexandra, with pianists Nic Saunders and Matthew Cooke.

Helen Purchase has been leader of Petersfield Orchestra since 2002.

Helen studied at Colchester Institute and Middlesex university before taking up a post at Churcher’s College, initially as a teacher in charge of strings.

She became Director of Music there in 2012, and Head of Performing Arts in 2016. Festival week is always a busy time for Helen, since as well as leading the orchestra in its Thursday concert she coordinates the College’s contribution to the Youth Concerts and conducts the combined jazz bands of Churcher’s and TPS in the two performances.

Outside music, as the orchestra’s website tells us, Helen keeps fit with climbing (Mont Blanc), long distance running, skiing and more.

Mass for Chorus, Brass and Organ for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with Petersfield Chamber Choir

Ann Pinhey (read a 2020 profile of her on Music in Portsmouth)

Cabaret Evening with Michael Mates and William Godfree

Verdi Requiem – open workshop day led by conductor Paul Spicer

Youth Concerts celebrated the Olympics

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 4: recollecting 2015

Jonathan Willcocks: A Great and Glorious Victory

In October 2012 Jonathan Willcocks led an inspiring Festival workshop on his choral work A Great and Glorious Victory, timed to coincide with preparations for singers from several UK choirs to join an international choir in Carnegie Hall, New York, in early 2013.

The Festival’s own performance of A Great and Glorious Victory, conducted by Paul Spicer with Peter Aisher as soloist, followed in 2015. The work both inspired and challenged the combined Fernhurst and Petersfield choral societies and Midhurst Music Society, with its complex rhythms, explosive depictions of battle and storm, and powerful emotional range from conflict to resolution.

Trafalgar was not the only battle being fought – David Francombe described the drama of the chorus ‘battling valiantly against a huge volume of sound from the orchestra’.

The work memorably involves the audience singing the great hymns ‘Eternal Father, strong to save‘ and, in conclusion, ‘The day Thou gavest, Lord is ended’. The closing bars, said David, with the offstage soloist singing the word ‘Victory!, Victory!’ were ‘pure magic!’

Also: Hampshire Police Male Voice Choir with Quintessential Brass

National celebrations of the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta – new short cantata with words and music by Philip Young

The Parnassian Ensemble – Their programme for the Festival, subtitled ‘Cross-currents’, included twentieth-century music by Bohuslav Martinù and Ryohei Hirose as well as one of their own commissions, Flourishes and Dances by Steve Marshall, who was in the audience. ‘I hope he was delighted with tonight’s engaging performance, full of jazz rhythms and occasional dissonances,’ wrote Ann Pinhey. Of the whole programme, Ann wrote, ‘Everything was elegant, polished and performed with virtuosity and assurance. Wonderful!’

Petersfield Orchestra – Beethoven’s ‘Egmont’ overture received ‘an impressive performance, full of warmth and drama’, wrote Ann Pinhey. In Bizet’s Symphony in C, ‘Robin Browning galvanised his players, giving a polished, energetic reading.

Gerald Finzi: Intimations of Immortality is a big and challenging work, so who better to prepare a performance than Paul Spicer, a trustee of the Finzi Society and foremost exponent of the British choral music of the period, who named his own chamber choir the Finzi Singers?

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Chichester Music Society’s March 2021 Newsletter

This month’s edition discusses:

• The Covid crisis continues to have a major impact on our programme schedule with The Student Showcase delayed until May. Further details below.

• Our event with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars has had to be postponed until an additional date in September. Hopefully by that time live audiences should be able to enjoy their programme! See full details of our revised programme below.

• The AGM will be delayed this year until 9th June. The Annual Report and Accounts will be emailed to members next month. See Chairman’s Blog.

The Student Showcase Competition, where six selected undergraduates compete for the £1500 Prize Fund (First prize £600) will now take place on Thursday 20th May in the University Chapel.

Auditions will be taking place during April and further details will be published in our next Newsletter.

Chairman’s Blog

Our programme for the beginning of the year continues to be badly affected by the continuing Covid crisis and lockdown, Performers are finding that it is impossible to rehearse in groups and prepare for their concerts and additionally in our case until recently the University has had to work remotely with its students with no visitors allowed on campus.

The Student Showcase has now been rescheduled to 20th May and the event with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars is being rearranged for later in September. As was the case last year, members will receive full credit for the postponed events against the cost of next year’s renewal. We are hoping that our summer concert will go ahead as planned on 9th June although we will probably not be able to provide the full interval buffet as usual.

Our AGM has been postponed until 9th June, preceding the concert with Tanya Ursova and Anna Gorbachyova. Members will receive the Report and Accounts for 2020 during April. This has been a very difficult year for our Society but fortunately due to the support of members and generosity of donors, our financial position is secure. The Committee has developed an excellent programme for 2022 including some new faces as well as established friends. Full details will be circulated soon.

The untimely death of our Treasurer, Chris Coote, last September was a real loss and we are currently seeking someone to replace him. If any member is able to help the Committee in this way, I should be delighted to hear from them.

The Committee would like to thank members for their support over this very difficult period. I know how much we all want to get back to normal and enjoy our live music and socialising once again. Do take care and look after yourselves. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Chris Hough

Programme for the year

Thursday 20th May University of Chichester Student Showcase Concert
Six selected undergraduates compete for the £1500 Prize Fund (First Prize £600)

9th June Summer Concert
Tanya Ursova (piano) & Anna Gorbachyova (soprano) perform a programme of Russian music for our summer event. Tanya last performed for the society in 2017 when she presented a lecture recital on the Muses behind the Russian composers. Tonight Tanya returns with her friend Anna Gorbachyova (soprano) with a programme songs for a summer evening. This event will be preceded by the AGM from 7.15pm.

15th September Erin Alexander & the Champagne Quartet
The Quartet will perform a reduced version of one of the great operas, small in scale but including all the best bits!

September (date tbc) Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars
The guitar duo present ‘A Shared Resonance’, a lecture/recital featuring duets performed on three types of instrument: the Baroque guitar, the Early Romantic guitar, and the modern classical guitar. Each of the guitars has it’s own distinctive sound, and original music that was written for it, or in this case for two guitars. The duo will perform music by some of the major guitarists and composers of the last three centuries to tell the story of how the guitar duet developed and changed, and is still changing

13th October Emma Abbate & the Sacconi Quartet
CMS are delighted to present the highly talented pianist Emma Abbate with the award-winning Sacconi Quartet. The Quartet are recognised for their integrated and compelling ensemble, consistently communicating with a fresh and imaginative approach. Performing with style and commitment and are known throughout the world for their creativity and integrity of interpretation. The Ensemble will play music for piano quintet including Shostakovitch’s brilliant Op. 57 Piano Quintet

10th November Martino Tirimo & Atsuko Kawakami
The brilliant duo return with a programme of music for two pianos

8th December CMS Bursary Holders Concert
This is a special benefit event for Christmas and features some of our recent bursary holders. A retiring collection will be made at the end of the concert and all proceeds will go to CMS charities for the benefit of future bursary award winners and the purchase of musical instruments.
Full programme details will be circulated nearer the time. Wine & mince pies will be served during the interval.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 3: recollecting 2017

Edward Thomas Centenary Concert

From time to time the Festival puts on a ‘Petersfield special’ – a unique concert relating to the music and community in this part of the world, such as the gala concert of Petersfield Musicians and Composers at the Festival’s centenary in 2001, the memorial concert for Michael Hurd in 2007 and the Rogate Choral Society centenary concert in 2008.

The latest in this series, and the broadest in scope, was the 2017 Edward Thomas Centenary Concert. In order to represent the nature of Thomas’s association with the area, and with Steep in particular, the Festival invited Petersfield Photographic Society to mount an exhibition of photographs inspired by the poetry. Petersfield Museum was also invited to put on a display drawing on the substantial collection of Edward Thomas material held there. The Museum’s trustees and staff, who include members of the Edward Thomas Fellowship, provided invaluable advice and support. The programme of choral and solo vocal and instrumental music was researched and devised by members of the Festival committee and performed by a variety of groups and individuals with local connections, to a capacity audience that included the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, and East Hampshire MP Damian Hinds.

The first half of the concert focused on Thomas’s family, friends and literary contacts, with music he wrote about and settings of poems by his contemporaries. The second half introduced settings of Thomas’s own poetry – many of them little known, but strongly evocative in the context of his life and work, described by Philip Young in a linking narrative.

Most of the choral works were sung by Vox Cantab, the professional chamber choir set up by former Churcher’s College student Louisa Denby, conducted by Jonathan Willcocks and accompanied by Richard Pearce.

A Romantic Choral Feast

Petersfield Orchestra

Johnny Mansfield’s Elftet

Sara Deborah Timossi

Sara Deborah Timossi first performed in Petersfield, as Sara Deborah Struntz, with Petersfield Orchestra in 2009, when she gave a memorable performance of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto. Her biography for that concert already hinted at her breadth of interests and sympathies: “Aware that every talent bears a responsibility, Sara Deborah strives to bring music’s message and beauty to life to reach her listeners’ hearts; therefore she also performs in hospitals, prisons and care homes.”

In October 2017, she won the First Prize and Audience Prize at the International Baroque Violin Competition Premio Bonporti in Rovereto, Italy, awarded for only the second time since 2003.

Since moving to Liss, Sara Deborah has combined her artistic career with family life and involvement as an environmental activist. She founded the string orchestra SouthDowns Camerata to promote classical music to wide audiences and to support young string players, and leads the Spirit of Music Festival in Liss and Petersfield.

With pianist Richard Pearce, Sara Deborah gave an acclaimed lunchtime recital at the 2016 Festival. She was due to return wearing two hats in 2020 – with SouthDowns Camerata in a concert of eighteenth century choral music, and with the SOS Choir, who were preparing to perform Dorry Macaulay’s song ’SOS from the Kids’ with the combined schools choir at the Youth Concerts. The SOS Choir went on to reach the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent in September last year.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 2: recollecting 2014 + David Francombe remembered

David Francombe remembered:

It was just a year ago, on the first Saturday of the 2020 Festival, during rehearsals for a concert that David Francombe was due to attend as reviewer, that we received the sad and sudden news that he had passed away.

David came to Petersfield with his first wife, Miriam, in 1965, and quickly established a place as a leading member of the town’s arts activities and the congregation at St Peter’s Church. His first involvement was with the Lion and Unicorn Players, but by 1976 he had started a five-year stint as conductor of Harting Choral Society, which brought him in contact with the Festival. He joined the Festival committee, serving on it until 1985 and then again as vice-chairman from 1998 to 2004.

Familiar with the technical side of Petersfield Festival Hall, David masterminded the Festival’s lighting for many years. Later, he showed his versatility and readiness to help by looking after the Festival Friends for two years, editing and designing the programmes for three Festivals, reviewing concerts, providing liaison with St Peter’s for the Festival’s lunchtime and evening recitals, and latterly managing the priority postal bookings.

All this time, the Festival benefited from his intimate knowledge of the town and his wisdom as an organiser. After Miriam’s premature death in 1976, David devoted himself to the work of a single dad, striking up a companionship with Jillie Booth at a Festival meeting in 1983; this further cemented his Festival connections, since Jillie’s mother, Kay McLeod was Festival secretary. David and Jillie married in 1997 and together they enjoyed twenty-three years of happy and exceptionally busy retirement.

In the reviews of the choral concerts that he wrote between 2012 and 2019, which we shall often be quoting in these recollections, David brought a wide knowledge of choral repertoire and a discriminating ear, together with an appreciation, born of experience, of all that is involved when amateur musicians embark on such big enterprises.

Please click on the link below to read more.

Background to this series.

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 1: Castaway’s Choice with Piers Burton-Page & Paul Spicer

Piers Burton-Page interviews composer, conductor and music writer Paul Spicer about his life, work and 8 favourite pieces of music. Produced by Phillip Young Edited by Chris Bartholomew-Fox

Please click on the link below.

Background to this series.

Ensemble Reza emerge confident from pandemic

Mid-Sussex based Ensemble Reza – regulars at the Festival of Chichester – are in a remarkably strong position.

They can confidently say their year of lockdown and pandemic has been a thoroughly good one.

“We have had an exciting year,” says Ensemble Reza managing director Hannah Carter, “and we have got an exciting future.”

In fact, on Tuesday, March 16, they will notch up their 50th virtual Ensemble Reza Midday Music Concert – a weekly commitment which has been a key way the ensemble has navigated all the challenges of 2020 and into 2021.

Read more at the link below.

Chichester Music Press: a new publication by Rosemary Field

Please see the linked page below for this new publication: Veni Creator Spiritus by Rosemary Field (formerly sub-organist at Portsmouth Cathedral). It’s a fusion of traditional plainsong and a George Herbert text from 1633. The piece was written for what was then the Parish Choir at Portsmouth Cathedral, about 20 years ago.

Rosemary Field is the outgoing Deputy Director for Education of the RSCM, having previously held appointments in the dioceses of Portsmouth and Lincoln. She is a very experienced organist and choir trainer. I have two newly-published pieces by her to tell you about.

Veni Creator Spiritus is a clever fusion of the plainsong hymn with a text by George Herbert (The Starre). The texts are complementary and contrasted. That contrast is mirrored in the music; there are moments of word-painting and a few harmonic surprises, mostly to colour particular syllables. There is one very short de-synchronised moment where recitative style in the tenor part is set between regular note-values. The overall effect is layered and rhapsodic.

Then O Emmanuel is based on the last Advent (Magnificat) Antiphon, O Emmanuel. It centres on an insistently-building chorus of “Veni” as fits the calendar moment, contrasted with solid chordal writing for the ‘King and lawgiver’ line, and framed by imitative reflections on the opening phrase of the plainsong. It would suit a late-Advent service, form a pivot-point between prophecies and a Gospel reading, or sit in the classic pre-Evensong slot, being a cappella.

Read about Neil Sands and Chichester Music Press.

Petersfield Musical Festival moves to online retrospectives in 2021

Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 1: Castaway’s Choice with Piers Burton-Page & Paul Spicer
Petersfield Musical Festival online retrospective 2: recollecting 2014 + David Francombe remembered

This time last year, preparations for the 2020 Festival’s ten concerts were in full swing and ticket sales were building by the day.

But the news was becoming threatening, and we were only three concerts into the Festival when the curtain suddenly had to come down.

Since then music-lovers have been sadly starved of live performances and musicians have struggled to make ends meet.

Donate to support musicians.

Festival online 12-20 March

Open a daily email to revisit the Festival’s mix of classical and popular music, old friends and new discoveries, inspirational professionals, dedicated local amateurs
and keen, talented youngsters.

PMF’s online retrospectives will feature many of the 73 Festival concerts presented in the Festival Hall and St Peter’s Church between 2011 and 2019.

These are not recordings of the concerts, but expect articles, anecdotes, reviews, photographs and links to websites where you can hear and see more about each year’s music and performers.

They won’t be in chronological order, so discover the featured year when you log in.

Join us from Friday 12 to Saturday 20 March for a daily reminder of the variety and excitement of nine different Festivals!

Donate to Petersfield Musical Festival

Portsmouth Chamber Music Series new dates

I confirm that our February and March concerts also will not go ahead as planned.

However the Guildhall is now hoping to reopen in April. On that basis I have two new dates for you. The Doric Quartet (originally on 22 Feb.) will now come on Wednesday 12 May, and Ensemble 360 (originally on 25 Jan.) will come on Monday 14 June. The Arcadia Quartet is more difficult because they are from Romania and March was going to be part of a UK tour, but I am in discussions with them as to whether we can find a summer date or have to postpone until next year.

Any tickets for the Jan. and Feb. concerts will automatically be valid on the new dates. I would be very grateful if those who have purchased tickets for the March concert or season tickets could hold on for now until the situation is more certain. If this is a problem, however, please let me know and I will sort out.

Festival of Chichester eyes up summer possibilities with major IT upgrade

The Festival of Chichester is planning confidently for the future with a major IT investment – thanks to generous grant support from Chichester District Council.

CDC is giving the festival a grant of £1,600 towards the cost of a new website and a new vastly-improved event registration system.

Festival chairman Phil Hewitt said: “This is brilliant news for the festival in such an uncertain year – and we are hugely grateful to the district council for recognising the importance of what we do, not just in Chichester but in the wider district. The new systems have been masterminded by our committee member Simon O’Hea who has done a wonderful job in envisaging just how much more efficient we really ought to be… and are now going to be!”

Read more at the link below.

Jess Gillam and Adam Kay to headline this year’s Petworth Festival

Classical saxophonist Jess Gillam and doctor-turned-author and comedian Adam Kay will be among the headline acts at this year’s Petworth Festival.

Festival artistic director Stewart Collins has confirmed a number of the acts heading to West Sussex this summer.

There is no confirmed box office opening date yet, but at the very least Stewart and the team are offering a statement of intent.

It remains to be seen precisely what format the festival will take, but Stewart is determined that the festival will happen in some shape or form this July, within whatever the prevailing Covid restrictions are.

Read more at the link below.

Welcome to Ports Fest

After 20 years of being Portsmouth Festivities, we are rebranding the cultural festival to Ports Fest. With the festival’s ever-evolving reputation in the city, we want to refresh our look and name to be on-trend and expand on our offering to the public. Ports Fest has been a well-known abbreviation for the festival for many years as our hashtag.

In the past we have been grateful to host hundreds of well-known artists, speakers, and authors, as well as involving thousands of local community residents, groups and school pupils. As well we have created fun thematic programmes to get the public involved with, such as Play Code City, The World’s Smallest Escape Room and 20 Love.

Although we had to cancel our festival in 2020 this has given us the chance to reflect on our work and think about ways to deliver an outdoor weekend festival in 2021 that will involve as many young people and as much of the Portsmouth community as possible.

The dates for this year’s festival will be July 2nd-4th and the theme for this year “Remember, Reimagine, Reset”.

We will be launching the programme for this year’s festival in May. Please be assured that the festival remains aware of the current restrictions and will always adhere to these forms of guidance locally and nationally, keeping everyone’s health and safety at the main core of this festival going ahead. “Our priority is to work around the stipulations in order to keep absolutely everyone safe. In light of this we are keeping positive that we will be able to deliver Ports Fest this summer. By then we will all need some live arts and cultural sustenance” Erica Smith, Festival Director.

In these unprecedented times, we want to bring to the community this Summer some fun-filled events for all to enjoy. Despite this, we are future planning and hopeful that our fuller programme will be back for 2022.

Head to our new website to find out more on what we do and will continue to provide to the community of Portsmouth and the surrounding areas.

The 2021 Petworth Festival previewed

We are doubtless far from being the first to wish you a happy new year, but a happy new year to you all the same from the Petworth Festival team. We really hope that 2021 will turn out to be a different year to 2020. I am sure we are all agreed on that!

But if 2020 was memorable for anything other than the pandemic I hope that most if not all of you will have taken something positive from the Petworth Festival Autumn Special, the fortnight of ‘almost live but definitely online’ events we ran towards the end of October. The response received at the time was overwhelmingly positive, and we came away feeling we had definitely done something to help fill the terrible void Covid-19 has brought to our lives. We also found out just how welcome was the opportunity for the performers and authors whose livelihoods have otherwise been so dramatically affected by the lockdown.

2021 is now upon us of course, and in the same way that we negotiated last year’s white-water ride, we are again looking to lay on a festival we can be proud of and one that continues to build on the momentum we have so happily gathered in the last few years. At the time of writing we can’t wholly guarantee that all our plans will all see the light of day, but in the sincere hope that they will, we invite you to join us at 7pm on Tuesday 2 February for an online event that will give you the first glimpse of what we are planning for July.

‘The 2021 Festival Previewed’ will run for roughly 35 minutes and will tell you where we are, what our plans are and, crucially, invite your continued support. As we said repeatedly at the time, the 2020 festival was only made possible by the support of our Sponsors, Patrons and Friends, and we hope that this event will both whet your appetite for our summer plans, and encourage you to continue or develop your support for what we are trying to achieve in and for Petworth. If you can’t join us on Tuesday, the video will be available on until 31 March.

So do join us to see some clips of ‘the best of 2020’ as well as to meet some of the performers chalked in for July.

Why live-streaming will never beat live performance…

Chichester Chamber Concerts should have been starting the New Year with a visit from The Bach Players on Thursday 28 January.

Inevitably, it’s not happening – which is hardly the best possible start to The Bach Players’ 25th anniversary year.

But leader Nicolette Moonen (violin) is looking on the bright side. The concert has been provisionally rescheduled to take place on 9 July.

Read more at the link below.

Lockdown organ recital live from St Mary’s Petworth

Matthew Cooke, organist at St Mary’s Petworth, is offering a fundraising live-streamed organ recital from the church.

Featuring French, German and English music, it will take place on Sunday, January 31 at 5pm and will be live streamed simultaneously on St Mary’s Petworth Facebook page and the church’s YouTube channel.

If you can’t listen at the time, you will be able to catch up with it after the event. Hopefully this event will go some way to helping to lift people’s spirits at this time of the pandemic. The programme will last around 35 minutes and is shown below.

The recital will be free to view – however, donations to church funds would be much appreciated at this time – these may be made via the link on St Mary’s website.

Coronation March (Le Prophete) Meyerbeer (transcribed by Bryan Hesford)
Chorale Prelude on ‘Abridge’ C S Lang
Violin Concerto in G: 1st movement (Allegro) Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe Weimar (transcribed by J S Bach)
Double Violin Concerto: 2nd movement (Largo ma non tanto) J S Bach (transcribed by Dom Gregory Murray)
Fanfare: ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’ Christopher Tambling
Le jardin suspendu Jehan Alain
Chanson d’amour Gabriel Faure (transcribed by Martin Setchell)
Litanies Jehan Alain

Read more at the link below.

Chichester Music Society’s February 2021 Newsletter

The Covid crisis continues to have a major impact on our programme schedule, with our February and March events postponed until next year. Further details are set out in the Chairman’s Blog, below.

Whilst our February event with Ensemble Reza cannot go ahead, we are pleased to present an update on the activities of one of our favourite groups below.

We are hoping that the Student Showcase can proceed as planned. Brief details of all our forthcoming events appear below.

Chris Hough, chair, writes:

It is with real regret that I have to inform you that we are not able to proceed with our concert on Wednesday 10th February. Due to the continuing Covid crisis and lockdown, CMS has had to postpone the event with Ensemble Reza until next year. This event has been re-scheduled to the 10th February 2022. Performers are finding that it is impossible to rehearse in groups and prepare for their concerts and additionally in our case, the University is working remotely with its students with no visitors allowed on campus until mid-February at the earliest.

For the same reasons, the March concert with the University Chamber Orchestra has also been postponed until next year. Our AGM has been postponed until the event with Ashworth & Rattenbury Guitars on 12th May. As was the case last year, members will receive full credit for the postponed events against the cost of next year’s renewal.

Your committee is working hard behind the scenes to ensure a full and rewarding programme of events in 2022. We are planning to include some new faces as well as established friends including the Rosamunde Trio and Margaret Fingerhut.

These are very difficult times and I know how much we all want to get back to normal and enjoy our live music and socialising once again. Do take care and look after yourselves. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Ensemble Reza are special friends of ours & we always look forward to their visits which deliver inspired and committed performances. It is very disappointing that we are unable to see them this year. They have an excellent website & members are advised to take a look and check out the many opportunities to hear them perform.

Hannah Carter, their Managing Director writes:

“As we pass yet another milestone of a missed sextet concert Pavlos reminded us all this weekend of a happier January, when we popped up to London to perform at St Thomas’s Hospital.  We are really looking forward to a time when we can get back together again and take our music out to audiences locally and further afield!

“Talking about further afield, this Tuesday our Midday Music concert will be streamed live from Spain as we are joined once more by the brilliant accordionist Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade.  This concert will feature music from across the world including Germany, Russia, Brazil and Argentina.

“This Sunday 31st January, we are very excited to launch our unique programme of rehearsals for our Community Orchestra.  We are keen to welcome both our regular members to the orchestra and any new players, so please help us to spread the word by forwarding our newsletter to your friends and family. Thank you!

Finally, we are always keen to support the local Haywards Heath Music Society.  Pavlos Carvalho and Louisa Lam will launch their 79th season of concerts with a pre-recorded programme of music to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on Saturday 6th February.  For more information and tickets visit the Society’s website.”

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