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

Preview: Chamber musicians’ inaugural concert at St Peter’s Church

A wonderful opportunity to hear local musicians and support a local charity on Saturday July 14 when the Solent Chamber Orchestra performs at St Peter’s Church to raise money for The Rosemary Foundation.

The chamber group are part of the well-established Solent Symphony Orchestra which, although based in Portsmouth, draws many of its players from the wealth of talented classical musicians based in Petersfield and the surrounding area.

Soloists for the evening are founder member and principal flautist Helen Walton from Liss, and clarinettist Robert Blanken, who is well known to local audiences as principal clarinettist of the Petersfield Orchestra, and most recently for his stunning performance of the Bruch concerto at the Festival Hall earlier this month.

The pair will perform the delightful Symphonie Concertante for Flute and Clarinet by Danzi with Handel’s Concerto Grosso Opus 3 opening the concert and the effervescent Symphony No 29 by Mozart bringing it to a close.

The Rosemary Foundation is a small, local charity that provides Hospice at Home care for people who are suffering from cancer and other life-limiting conditions, and who wish to spend their remaining days in their own homes. The Foundation is based in Petersfield and covers a radius of 15 miles and since its formation in 1997 has cared for over 3,000 patients and their families. The Foundation receives no statutory funding and relies on charitable giving, legacies and fundraising for its income. The orchestra is delighted to be supporting this excellent charity and is looking forward to performing at St Peter’s Church.

Starting at 7.30pm with a bar before and during the interval, the concert is free. There will be a retiring collection in aid of the Foundation.


Reclaiming lost masterpieces for the Festival of Chichester

There are plenty of masterpieces that have slipped through the net. Bogdan Vacarescu is determined to catch a few of them for this year’s Festival of Chichester. A regular at the festival, Bogdan is back this year with String Dimensions, a new London-based chamber ensemble of international soloists united by a passion for discovering and performing music rarely heard today.

As part of the Amici Concerts series within the festival, they will be performing on Monday, July 9 at 7.30pm at St Pancras Church, Eastgate Square, Chichester. They are promising a delightful, versatile programme of duos, trios and quartets by Corelli, Cherubini, Grieg, Enescu and Liszt.

Read more at the links below.


Preview: Chichester Chorale at the Festival of Chichester

13-year-old Rafi Bellamy Plaice, winner of the BBC Radio 2 Chorister of the Year 2017, will be the soloist for O For The Wings Of A Dove at this year’s Festival of Chichester concert from the Chichester Chorale.

Friday, July 6 at 7.30pm in Boxgrove Priory. Tel. 01243 816525 or 775888.

Read more at the links below.


Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia at the Festival of Chichester

Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia switch to St George’s Church, Cleveland Road, Whyke for their Festival of Chichester concert this year.

Their Festival of Chichester programme on Saturday, June 30 at 7.30pm will be The Azure Main, reflections on our sea-bound island heritage, featuring traditional and contemporary water music and words to inspire and delight, all as a festival fundraiser for St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester.

Read more at the external site link below.


Preview: The Consort of Twelve goes on a “Grand Tour”

The Consort of Twelve’s latest concert, to take place at 6:00 pm on Sunday, 1 July at St Paul’s Church, Chichester, has a programme of Baroque music, played on original instruments and entitled The Grand Tour. It features music from France, German and Italy, with some well-known pieces by Handel and Purcell, but also rarities such as the “Nightwatchman’s Serenade” by Biber and a violin concerto by Tartini. Led by renowned violinist Catherine Mackintosh, it features as soloists Sara Deborah Struntz (violin) and Sophie Middleditch (recorder).


Preview: St Richard Singers concert: “A Royal Summer”

The St Richard Singers’ summer concert, at St George’s, Chichester on 2 July at 1930, takes place as part of this year’s Festival of Chichester. With nearly 60 musicians on-stage, it is one of the biggest musical events of the festival’s calendar, and will feature the choir, their in-house professional chamber orchestra, the Noviomagus Ensemble, and hand-picked soloists.

Titled “A Royal Summer”, the theme of royal celebrations runs throughout opening with Hubert Parry’s “I Was Glad”. Perhaps most famously performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011, the piece was first composed for the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and it has been performed at every British coronation since.

Completing the first half is Purcell’s birthday Ode, “Come, Ye Sons of Art”. Composed for the birthday of Queen Mary in 1694, it is scored for choir, small chamber orchestra, and soloists, and is a celebration of the Queen’s virtues and her patronage. Nothing short of a musical masterpiece, it is the last and grandest of his Odes, and puts all of the performers through their paces.

The second half is made up of Handel’s ‘Coronation Anthems’. Composed in 1727 for the coronation of George II, the opening anthem, “Zadok the Priest” is by far the most famous, as it has been performed at every British Coronation since. It was also famously adapted in 1992, the result becoming the official anthem of the UEFA Champions League. The Coronation Anthems are an all-out celebration with all the fixings, and not to be missed!

As well as wonderful music, there will also be the chance to eat wonderful ice cream from Baileys Artisan Gelato (a local Chichester company) in the interval, which will be available for purchase.

Don’t miss your chance to get tickets!

Get them now at https://chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/shows/873586200


Preview: Portsmouth Baroque Choir Summer Concert

Portsmouth Baroque Choir’s summer concert, at St George’s Church, Waterlooville on Sat 30 Jun at 7.30pm, features two main works. The first half is themed around times and seasons, starting with some madrigals and a part-song, and featuring a work by Jonathan Dove, The Passing of the Year. It was written in 2000 for the London Symphony Chorus. Scored for double choir with piano accompaniment, it is a cycle of seven poems, all from past centuries, which evoke the different seasons in a way that recalls Britten’s Spring Symphony.

The second half features John Rutter’s cycle of folk-songs, The Sprig of Thyme. It is a collection of traditional folk songs from England, Scotland and Ireland, originally for choir and chamber orchestra. The piano accompaniment will be enhanced with the woodwind instrumentation from the original scoring of wind, strings and harp. The concert ends with a madrigal that invokes night, a big piece in rich six-part harmony, slow and elegiac in mood.

We are delighted to have Karen Kingsley accompanying us. Karen will also be playing some piano music by E J Moeran.


Preview: Havant Symphony Orchestra Summer Concert

The members of Havant Symphony Orchestra are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their soloist for their imminent concert. So far they have rehearsed Finzi’s ‘Cello Concerto on their own. The internationally renowned ‘cellist, Raphael Wallfisch, will play Gerald Finzi’s concerto for the instrument on the evening of Saturday 7 July at Oaklands School, Waterlooville. He is due to arrive for a practice with the full ensemble the evening before.

Keenest to meet Raphael are husband and wife team, musicians Pat and Liz Caines. When she was a girl violinist Liz played with Raphael’s father, Peter Wallfisch, in Leicester County Symphony Orchestra. Peter performed Mozart’s Piano concerto No 9 with this orchestra. Peter’s wife, Anita, was a brilliant ‘cellist and Auschwitz survivor, who went on to co-found the English Chamber Orchestra.

More recently, ‘cellist Pat Caines and Liz played under the baton of Simon Wallfish. This was with the London Charity Orchestra at St Giles, Cripplegate. Simon, who is a conductor and a ‘cellist, is the son of Raphael. Having met both his father and his son, Pat and Liz Caines are looking forward to meeting Raphael himself.

Raphael has recorded the Finzi and performed it many times. Sources close to the HSO conductor, Jonathan Butcher, reveal that Raphael knows the work inside out. Jonathan Butcher knows what he’s doing too. But the orchestral players will have to be on their toes to keep abreast of the constantly varying time signatures; that is to say the unpredictable numbers of notes to the bar which is a feature of the work.

Also on the repertoire for the evening is Borodin’s exciting Overture to the opera, Prince Igor. The plot is all about a turf war. It comes from an ancient Russian epic and centres around Prince Igor Svayatoslavich who fought the wild Polovtsian tribes invading his country many years ago.

Borodin died before he finished the work but it was edited and completed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov. Up and coming conductor Richard Miller will conduct the piece.

Tchaikovsky’s passionate Symphony No 4 is on the bill too. Jonathan Butcher will conduct this terrific item which is chock full of Russian fervour. The third movement is a brisk pizzicato scherzo which calls for the fiddle, viola, ‘cello and bass players to put down their bows and pluck the strings. This passage is marked “ostinato” which in Italian means stubborn but in musical terms merely means that key phrases are repeated several times.

A fiery, quick tempo finale rounds the whole great work off.

This evening promises to be a great show. Without doubt, concert-goers will be sorry when it’s over.

For tickets via TicketSource phone 03336 663366. For ticket enquiries phone 01489 877497, text 07855 972057 or email tickets.havantorchestras@gmail.com.


Ensemble Reza at the Festival of Chichester

Ensemble Reza have been one of the great West Sussex musical success stories in recent years. They are back again for the 2018 Festival of Chichester, offering two concerts on the same day.

On Saturday, June 23 from 2-3pm they offer their family concert Around The World With Music And Dance at St John’s Chapel, St John’s Street, Chichester, a chance for the whole family to join virtuoso musicians for jigs, reels, tangos and polkas from around the world. Adults £8; children and students under 18 £5; children aged three and under free.

And then, at 7pm, Ensemble Reza will be back for Romantic Gems, a programme of unknown but beautiful music, introduced by cellist Pavlos Carvalho. They are promising an unforgettable journey including Halversen – Passacaglia for Violin and Viola (after Handel); Beethoven – String Trio in C Minor; and Dohnanyi – String Sextet in B Flat major. Tickets £15; students and under 18s £5.

Read more at the link below.


News: Portsmouth Philharmonic concert raises almost £500 for Meningitis Now!

As part of the Portsmouth Festivities the Portsmouth Philharmonic combined forces with the Southsea Community choir to raise nearly £500 for Meningitis Now.

The programme, featuring music by Beethoven and Vivaldi, took place in the David Russell Theatre at Portsmouth Grammar School and was introduced by Alison Hull from the charity. She described how she had lost her son when he died of Meningitis, including the process of bereavement that her family has undergone.

Alison is now a campaigner for Meningitis Now which has raised countless millions for research into the disease and aims to raise awareness of the early symptoms with public and the medical profession alike.

The concert was introduced by Alan Glock, a ‘cellist in the orchestra, who talked about the pieces of music in the programme. The first piece was by Vivaldi for orchestra and two violins. Vivaldi was the prototype of the modern virtuoso. He wrote 230 concertos for the violin creating the most original and innovative music of the age.

The orchestra then played Beethoven’s third symphony also called ‘Eroica’. Beethoven had planned the symphony as a homage to Napoleon who he saw as a champion of liberty and freedom. Legend has it that when he heard that Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor, he scratched out the word ‘Bonaparte’ from the first page and replaced it with the one word ‘Eroica’.

Chair of the orchestra Anne White said: “This piece of music was one of the most ambitious pieces chosen by the orchestra and is a fantastic effort by all concerned.”

The second half of the programme was led by Janet Ayers and the Southsea Community Choir. They, like the orchestra, meet every week and perform for charities and like the orchestra, everyone is welcome. They sing unaccompanied four-part harmony folk songs from around the world for fun and enjoyment.

Over the years the choir has raised more than £15,000 for WaterAid. Picking up on the theme of ‘Freedom’ set by the festivities, they sang a variety of songs from around the world, including South Africa, a New Zealand Maori blessing and Black American cultures. One song was based on a poem written by Lemn Sissay. The audience was also invited to join in under Janet’s instruction.

Audience member Marie Costa said: “It was a great performance! The orchestra and choir did so well in mixing the classical with the ‘normal’ singing. It was a concert which had something for everyone.”

Portsmouth Philharmonic’s next concert is on Sunday December 9 at 3pm in the Church of the Resurrection at Drayton, Portsmouth in which a programme of music by Bizet and Tchaikovsky will be played.

To get involved with Southsea Community Choir, Janet can be contacted on 023 9281 8802 or 07541 470225
To get involved with the Portsmouth Philharmonic, Anne can be contacted on 023 9273 1122 or 07712 279199 or email enquiries@portsmouthphilharmonic.org


Preview: Tamzin Barnett offers recital of delights for Festival of Chichester

Tamzin Barnett (soprano), who sang so beautifully in April at the unveiling of this year’s Festival of Chichester programme, returns to the festival itself with her own recital.

She will offer Scheherazade: an Evening of Story-Telling Through Song at Christ Church, Old Market Avenue, Southgate, Chichester, PO19 1SW on Saturday, June 23, 7.30pm – a recital of art songs and arias to include Ravel’s Scheherazade, alongside works by Mozart and Wolf.

Read more at the link below.


Preview: the genius of Bach at the Festival of Chichester

Pavlos Carvalho dives into the inexhaustible genius of Bach for the Festival of Chichester.

“Bach can speak to us, all people, all of us, at so many different levels,” says Pavlos who will play the solo Bach Cello Suites 1 and 2 at St John’s Chapel, St John’s Street, Chichester on Tuesday, June 19, at 1pm.

Read more at the link below.


Festival of Chichester opens tomorrow!

The sixth Festival of Chichester opens this weekend, ushering in a fabulous four weeks of fine entertainment, bringing together all that makes Chichester such a great place.

To get you in the mood, the festival committee is offering its traditional first-day-of-the-festival curtain-raiser on the Cathedral Green on Saturday, from 2pm. Saturday, June 16 is, of course, Sussex Day. The festival will make sure it is also Chichester Day – and that Chichester Day will last an entire month. Dawn Gracie and All That Malarkey will be performing on the Cathedral Green, and the Mayor of Chichester will officially declare the festival open.

Tickets for this year’s Festival of Chichester are available online: www.thenovium.org/boxoffice; email: boxoffice@chichester.gov.uk; on 01243 816525 or 775888; or in person at The Novium, Tower Street.

Read more at the link below.


Innovative choral scholarships in Chichester

A Chichester choir is launching an innovative choral scholarship scheme – all part of a mission to dispel the myth that classical music is stuffy and dull.

Jake Barlow, who took over as director of music with the St Richard Singers last autumn, said: “I want to increase engagement, especially with the younger members of the community. There is a feeling that a lot of choirs are just older members. I want to have the younger singers coming through as well and to give them the experience of singing the big standards of the choral repertoire. It is very much something that young people should have the chance to do”.

Read more at the link below.


Festival of Chichester Amici Concert Series

This year will feature the fifth Amici concert series at the Festival of Chichester.

We will welcome back Romanian violinist Bogdan Vacarescu with String Dimensions to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Italian composer Antonio Bazzini; Chilean guitarist Jorge Bravo and Spanish percussionist Demi Garcia with their Trio Nova featuring UK Jazz bassist Alec Dankworth; and German – Egyptian singer-composer Merit Stephanos with her solo story-telling and music show. We will also be joined by Syrian oud virtuoso Rihab Azar and her Zamaan Trio performing classical and traditional music from across the Middle-East; Lynden Cranham and violinist Sara Timossi, Baroque musicians local to Chichester; Rebetiko ensemble Plastikes Karekles; and Rwandan singer-songwriter & peace activist Jean Paul Samputu, who represents the award-winning charity Music Action International.

Box office links:
String Dimensions:
https://chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/shows/873586593
Rihab Azar
https://chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/shows/873586265
Plastikes Karekles
https://chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/shows/873586595
Lynden Cranham and violinist Sara Timossi
https://chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/shows/873586359

About Amici Concerts

Founded in Chichester in 2014 and co-directed by two local professional musicians, Amanda Cook (guitar) and Meg Hamilton (violin/viola), Amici Concerts presents some of the world’s finest international musicians throughout the year from a range of classical, world, jazz and folk music traditions, with exciting new collaborations, local musicians and well established groups, focusing on an annual week of eclectic summer concerts during the final week of the Festival of Chichester, in the wonderful acoustic of St Pancras Church, Eastgate Square.

Amici Concerts are held throughout the year at a number of different venues in and around Chichester including St. Pancras Church, Chichester Inn, St. John’s Chapel and The Chapel of the Ascension at the University of Chichester, and Halnaker Park Cottage garden.

Pictured: Jean Paul Samputu – Rwandan genocide survivor, singer, songwriter, and peace activist Samputu brings traditional African singing, dancing, and drumming, and a message of hope, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love to Chichester on Sat 14 July at 1500.


Preview: Portsmouth Festivities – O Duo

O Duo is opening Portsmouth Festivities on Friday 15 June.

Oliver Cox and Owen Gunnell formed O Duo in 2000 while studying at the Royal College of Music. In 2002 they made their Edinburgh Fringe Festival debut with their show, ‘Bongo Fury’, which they played over 25 times to sell-out crowds and critical acclaim. This led to them returning to the Fringe for two more years, and also laid a platform for their future success in a number of competitions, including being selected by Young Concert Artists Trust for representation in 2005.

Since then, O Duo has gone from strength to strength, giving recitals all around the world, performing both chamber music and concertos in many of the country’s top concert halls, playing in Hyde Park for the Last Night of the Proms, as well as commissioning many new works and inspiring countless children (and adults!) around the world with their virtuosic performances, laid-back presentation and passion for both percussion and music in general.

O Duo’s repertoire spans more than 300 years and is an invigorating mix of popular classics and accessible contemporary music played on two marimbas, vibraphone and a huge array of percussion. They continue to be passionate about commissioning new work and expanding the percussion duo repertoire.

Read more about them at the link below.

Watch them play Chopin’s Minute Waltz: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMCtFxYNoVM&feature=youtu.be


Preview: “Never such innocence” narrative recital of words and music

Actor Christopher Kent and pianist Gamal Khamis bring NEVER SUCH INNOCENCE, their acclaimed narrative recital of words and music from the First World War, to the Festival of Chichester at The Oxmarket Gallery, St Andrew’s Court (off East Street) on Tuesday 3rd July at 7.30pm.

Video trailer: www.neversuchinnocence.co.uk

NEVER SUCH INNOCENCE was first performed as part of the Somme100 commemorations in 2016 and has since been touring nationally, including a sell-out performance in London’s West End and a recent appearance on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, when Katie Derham described it as “incredibly moving”.

One hundred years after the devastating events of the First World War, and with Europe again facing a time of uncertainty, NEVER SUCH INNOCENCE looks back at the writing and music that emerged from the period, juxtaposing the words of writers such as Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon and Vera Brittain with piano music by composers including Elgar, Ravel, Debussy, Schoenberg, and Ivor Gurney.

In a moving and thought-provoking sequence, Christopher Kent and Gamal Khamis trace a narrative from the early innocence and nostalgia of pre-war life, through initial patriotic optimism, to the growing realisation of what was happening at the front and the deep sadness and loss that followed across Europe. Alongside this they tell the individual story of nineteen-year-old conscript Private Percy O’Key through his real-life letters and diaries.

It is a compelling journey from innocence to loss, told with unflinching clarity and compassion.

Audience comments from previous performances:

“A very special, moving and immensely absorbing production”
“Beautifully nuanced show – tender, moving, angry”
“A spell-binding evening. So compelling to watch and listen to …I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house”
“One of the most moving and thought-provoking events I have ever attended.”


Preview: Jennifer Parker-Lummis at Holy Trinity, Gosport

Our very own Gosport opera diva, Jennifer Parker-Lummis, will once again delight and entertain us on Sunday 3rd June from 3.30pm; this time with her own take on the History of Song from Caccini to The Rolling Stones! A genuine top-favourite with our audience, Jennifer always charms us with the beauty and versatility of her voice, and in this concert brings us a real flavour of her wide repetoire.

This is definitely a concert to see, hear and enjoy so do join us on Sunday 3rd June at 3.30pm; FREE ENTRANCE for all with a retiring collection and refreshments to follow. I look forward to welcoming you!

Jennifer Parker-Lummis is Gosport born and bred and a graduate of the Royal Welsh college of Music and Drama. She is a prolific performer and has trained with singers such as Buddug Verona James and Fringe festival diva Carol Bishop. Jennifer has a very opened minded approach to opera and classical music. Her Idols are Victoria Wood, Kirsten Chenoweth and Delia Smith. Jennifer is a freelance singer and performs at weddings and garden parties. She also gave the first operatic performance at the top of the Spinnaker Tower and has performed for the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth’s Gala and in private chambers. Jennifer has also performed and supported the Mayors of Gosport in their charities.

Nick Inman started playing the piano aged 9 and achieved grade 8 at 15. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London and, whilst there, was organist at St Giles in the Barbican, which is now the centre of an organ school. He later moved into the world of IT and music had to take a back seat for a while. However, about 20 years ago he started playing again, mainly in churches, took part in various competitions and has continued to develop his love of music.


Preview: Mass of the Children is Maestro’s Portsmouth Swansong

Tom Neal’s final concert as conductor of Portsmouth Festival Choir will take place at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral on Saturday 2nd June. The talented young conductor and composer is leaving Portsmouth to take up the post of Head of Music at the prestigious choir school of New College, Oxford. New College Choir is internationally renowned for its award-winning performances of great choral works.

The Choir are impressed that Tom has been offered this wonderful opportunity, but very sorry to lose him after such a short time. “We cannot begrudge him this great career move, but wish he could have stayed with us longer” said a spokesman.

Tom’s final concert will be a performance of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children. This delightful piece has an integral role for a children’s choir alongside the adult mixed choir and two soloists. The children’s choir adds a further dimension to the traditional Latin Mass. The children sometimes sing in Latin, and sometimes sing well-known childhood melodies. The work ends with a fervent prayer for peace.

Portsmouth Festival Choir will be joined for this work by the choir of Castle Primary School Portchester. Under its director, Andrew Jackson, it has made a considerable name for itself working with other adult choirs and has recently appeared at the Royal Albert Hall. Both choirs will be performing works on their own as well as singing Mass of the Children together.

As well as appearing as baritone soloist in the Rutter Mass, Hugo Herman-Wilson will perform Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs with the Festival Choir.

Tickets for the concert, which starts at 7.30 p.m. on Saturday 2nd June at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral, are available online from www.ticketsource.co.uk or from the Cathedral bookshop at £12 and £10. Students and accompanied under 18’s free.


Preview: Chichester Voices Summer Concert: “Summer & the Sea”

Chichester Voices will be presenting their summer concert in Bosham this year, at Holy Trinity Church, on Sunday 17th June at 6.30pm.

This renowned local chamber choir is well known for the wide range of repertoire it performs, both sacred and secular, and particularly enjoys singing ‘a capella’ music. Some favourites will be featured, including Gershwin’s ‘Summertime‘, John Rutter’s ‘Sprig of Thyme‘, and arrangements of ‘A Drunken Sailor‘ & ‘Blow the Wind Southerly‘. The choir will be conducted by Andrew Naylor, accompanied by Richard Copeland, and will be raising money for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust. Wine & soft drinks will be available in the interval.

Tickets are £12 (OAP & children concessions £10) and are available from Chichester Voices on 07900 098197, online at www.chichestervoices.org.uk, in the church and on the door.


Preview: the gemini consort Summer Concert

The Summer Concert to be given by the gemini consort on 23 June in St Peter’s Church at 7.30pm contains a plethora of wonderful musical gems to lift the spirit and bring a smile to everyone’s face. Much of the music is of a pastoral nature celebrating our superb countryside, including delightful Schubert and Mozart songs, and vocal duets by Mendelssohn and Brahms. The choir are singing folksong arrangements by Vaughan Williams and Holst and two by the exciting contemporary composer, Cecilia McDowall, which are full of rhythmic vitality and wit. We are also including her lighthearted pastiche, Hornpipe, for clarinet.

There is a flute solo, Gershwin’s Summertime, and an invigorating duet for two treble recorders by Telemann. Lucy Humphris, our regular trumpeter, has arranged two of Frank Bridge’s Four Pieces for Cello for flugelhorn. Harry Rylance, the very talented piano student at the RAM, will play two Tangos by Piazzolla.


Preview: Buoyant Beethoven and Bruch – Petersfield Orchestra summer concert

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

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

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

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

Concert details below.


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

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

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

Read a review of this concert.


Preview: Mark Dancer’s Summer Organ Recitals

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Visit of Orchestra Allegro Moderato to the UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Read more at the link below.


Preview: Solent Male Voice Choir in hospice fundraiser

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

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


Preview: Spirit of Music Festival

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 28th April, 2018

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 29th April

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

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

Monday, 30th April

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

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

 


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

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

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

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


The Consort of Twelve open new season in Chichester

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


Festival of Chichester set to launch on 16 June 2018

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


‘Messiah’ like no other will be an inspirational evening

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

Read more at the link below.


British Double Reed Society Day – 14 April

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Here’s a selection of the music on offer:

Opening Gala Concert – O Duo

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

The Tallis Scholars

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

Carlos Bonell

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

 

 

 

 


Preview: Portsmouth Light Orchestra’s Spring Concert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Preview: Handel masterpiece for The Chichester Singers

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

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

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

Read more about the concert at the link below.


Portsmouth Festivities kicks off launch with shanties

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

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

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

Read more at the link below.


Preview: Making Waves: “Beyond Music” series

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

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

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

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

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

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


Preview: Petersfield Orchestra Festival concert 15 March 2018

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Preview: University of Portsmouth Choir Chichester Psalms Concert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Preview: Dutch Renaissance Masters concert

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

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

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

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

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

Read more about the concert at the link below.


Preview: Portsmouth Philharmonic Spring Charity Concert on 4 March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Preview: Music of mourning and tranquillity

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

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

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

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


Havant Music Festival set to return in March

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

Read more in The News at the link below.


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

University of Chichester

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

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

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


Chichester Symphony Orchestra welcomes new players

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Petersfield Music Festival tickets available online

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


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

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

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


The Renaissance Choir seeks a first and a second alto

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

Learn more about joining us!

Join us


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