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

Preview: “Wassail!” with the Portsmouth Choral Union

Lois Johnson writes:

Portsmouth Choral Union’s Christmas Concert on December 15th, at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral, will give audiences the opportunity to hear ‘Wassail’ by Alexander L”Estrange – one of this country’s foremost and most popular modern choral composers. Scored for recorder, piano/guitar, accordion, double-bass and percussion, Wassail is full of catchy, exciting and rhythmic arrangements of carols old and new. The Choral Union will be joined in this performance by the pupils from Castle Primary School, Portchester – one of the finest school choirs in the area. The composer himself will lead the instrumental ensemble – all under the direction of conductor David Gostick.

This concert, which promises to be an excellent start to the Festive season, will also include audience participation carols and individual items from both PCU and Castle Primary School.

The photo shows the composer leading a recent ‘Wassail!’ singing workshop day.

Visit the concert page.

Preview: Zoltan Takacs to perform at St John’s lunchtime recital series

Crispin Ward writes:

Violinist and chamber musician Zoltan Takacs will be visiting Chichester again this week as he performs in the lunchtime recital series in St John’s Chapel on Thursday 15th November at 12.00.

Born in Budapest in 1959 Zoltan has played in renowned orchestras for over 36 years as Concert Master and Principal First Violin, including Principal Viola for 4 years in the Budapest Symphony Orchestra as well as Solo Violist of Concentus Hungaricus, the Hungarian Broadcasting Company Chamber Orchestra.

For the last 26 years Zoltan has lived in Helsinki, Finland. During this time he has been Concert Master of the Tapiola Sinfonietta, Guest Concert Master of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra / South – Australia and Orquesta Santa Cecilia / Madrid, Principal First Violin in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

His musical interests extend beyond the classical genre, including folk, pop, and jazz. He has for instance participated in “Absence”, a 2004 jazz recording, with Laszlo Süle (piano), Pentti Lahti (saxophone) and the Scarbantia String Quartet. The CD was a strong contender in the contest for Jazz record of the Year in Finland.

Zoltan has also performed in orchestra and chamber music concerts and solo recitals in Europe, USA, Venezuela, Peru, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
Zoltan graduated from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest in 1983 and has studied with Maria Vermes and Janos Pallagi (of the Hubay school), Vilmos Tatrai (a student of Carl Flesch) and Semyon Issaewits Snytkowski (a student of David Oistrakh). He has collaborated with (and been deeply influenced by) Brenton Langbein, Concert Master of the Basel Chamber Orchestra. He has attended courses by Ruggiero Ricci and Andre Gertler. In terms of musical and instrumental development a significant connection has been Christopher Warren-Green, concert master of the Philharmonia Orchestra, London.

Zoltan has studied conducting with Professor Atso Almila (Sibelius Academy, Finland) and Professor Janos Furst (Conservatoire de Paris). As a member of the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra he was awarded the Bartok prize in 1988.

Entry to the Thursday Lunchtime recitals is free with a retiring collection in aid of St. John’s Chapel building conservation fund.

Concert page:

Chichester’s St Richard Singers want you to come and sing Fauré’s Requiem with them!

Chichester’s St Richard Singers are offering a Come and Sing: Fauré’s Requiem as their contribution to the commemoration of the centenary of the close of World War One.

The event will be staged on Saturday, November 17, with registration at 12.30pm followed by a rehearsal from 1-4pm and an evening performance at 7.30pm (singers: £10 with £5 for U25s and students; concert entry free with a retiring collection towards costs and St Wilfrid’s Hospice). It all takes place at St George’s Church, Whyke, PO19 7AD, The choir’s director of music Jake Barlow will be masterminding proceedings.

Read more at:

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A feast of local talent continues the Remembrance theme

Thomas Lydon writes:

The Petersfield Choir, now firmly established as the town’s leading choir, and under the direction of its new conductor, local resident Thomas Lydon, continues its association with The SouthDowns Camerata, based in Liss, and its four regular soloists, all of whom live in the area and yet were trained in top internationally-famous music schools.

In the season of Remembrance and with the centenary of the ending of the First World War, the concert will be full of spectacular and moving music.

Top of the bill is Haydn’s sparkling and lively Nelson Mass, arguably his greatest single composition, written at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, with the original title of ‘Mass in Troubled Times’.

Vaughan Williams’ Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge is a response to the ending of the First World War based on Psalm 90. The finale is described as one of the most inspired endings in English choral music.

In addition, the orchestra will perform Elgar’s Serenade and there will be a selection of four short vocal solos.

The concert will be on Saturday, 24th November at 7:30pm in St Peter’s Church, Petersfield and admission is free.

Concert page.

Preview: “Forgotten Genius: Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel”

Local concert pianist Angela Zanders is to give an illustrated recital on Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel, the much-neglected sister of the composer Felix Mendelssohn, at St. Peter’s Church, Petersfield on Saturday 10th November at 3pm-5pm.

Fanny was also a prolific composer of genius, but the social conventions of the nineteenth century dictated that women could not pursue careers, so her music was largely forgotten after her death.

Angela will focus on Mendelssohn-Hensel’s major piano work, ‘Das Jahr’, a cycle of pieces depicting the months of the year. She will perform the work in its entirety, but first she will discuss the life and achievements of the composer and provide an introduction to this moving and virtuosic work.

“Before 1964, Fanny Mendelssohn-Hensel was only thought to have written a few songs in her lifetime, but it gradually became apparent that she had actually composed over 400 works and was an astoundingly talented composer. ‘Das Jahr’ was only discovered in 1989 and truly deserves to be more frequently included in recital programmes,” said Angela.

Entrance is free with a retiring collection and refreshments will be available in the interval.

Concert page.

Petersfield Orchestra marks the Armistice

Piers Burton-Page writes:

Remembering the end of World War One looks as if it is going to loom large in the national consciousness very shortly. Nationally and locally, events are planned that will bring the Armistice of November 1918 to the forefront of people’s minds.

Among the different ways in which to respect the memory of all those who served on the front line or on the home front, local music group the Petersfield Orchestra plans a concert that promises a powerful musical tribute. Just four days after Remembrance Sunday, conductor Mark Biggins will lead a programme that features pieces by four English composers, each of whom was engaged in the conflict in one way or another.

The centrepiece is the Third Symphony by Ralph Vaughan Williams who was a stretcher-bearer in the trenches. Subtitled ‘Pastoral’ it is haunted by distant fanfares and bugle calls while a wordless voice echoes the cries of the dead and wounded. The grieving fields are not those of England but the poppy-strewn landscape of Flanders.

In his Cello Concerto of 1919, Edward Elgar created one of the great elegies for the fallen, one that positively aches with melancholy and loss. Soloist with Petersfield Orchestra will be rising cello star Joy Lisney: the surname may be familiar as her family are closely associated with Hindhead Music Centre. A composer herself, and a conductor as well as cellist, Joy promises to bring to the piece all the required eloquence of feeling.

Two shorter works, again English, are also to be heard: George Butterworth was a close friend of Vaughan Williams, though rather younger. He was killed on the Somme in 1916. His short work ‘Banks of Green Willow’ takes a familiar folk tune and transforms it into a timeless idyll. This year is the centenary of Gustav Holst’s famous ‘Planets’ Suite. Holst helped with musical entertainment for troops based in Greece. His ‘Somerset Rhapsody’ also uses folk tunes and speaks vividly of an England that disappeared forever after the war was over.

This concert by Petersfield Orchestra commemorating the Armistice promises a musical feast as well as honour where it is due. It takes place in Petersfield Festival Hall on Thursday 15 November at 7.30, with a free introduction to the event at 6.30. Tickets are on sale online and from One Tree Books in Lavant Street 01730 261199 at £18, £16 and just £1 for those under 18.

Concert page:

The Merlin Ensemble Vienna joins the Chichester Chamber Concerts series

Phil Hewitt writes:

The Merlin Ensemble Vienna, founded in 1991, are the latest guests in the Chichester Chamber Concerts series. They will perform in the Assembly Room in the Chichester Council House in North Street on Thursday, November 8 at 7.30pm (tickets from the CFT).

Presenting its 14th season in 13 years, Chichester Chamber Concerts will be offering something genuinely special over the autumn and into the spring.

The season offers a concert a month at the Assembly Room, North Street, Chichester on Thursdays at 7.30pm, running from October through to March.

Visit for further details of the concerts.

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Orchestra plays Bizet for mental health charity

A music-oriented mental health charity is the latest good cause to benefit from a concert by the Portsmouth Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tonic is a Portsmouth-based charity which raises awareness and challenges the stigma often associated with mental illness through music and art-based events.

The orchestra’s next concert, on Sunday December 9 (3pm) at the Church of the Resurrection, Brecon Avenue, will feature Bizet’s Symphony in C Major, as well as Schubert’s Rosamunde Overture and Strauss’s Serenade in Eb Major.

Chair of the Orchestra and ‘cellist Di Lloyd said: “Tonic is a relatively new charity and the orchestra thought it was important to show how important music can be in terms of mental well-being.

“It really is a universal language and we look forward to working with the charity to make this concert a success and raise the profile of this issue.”

Tonic organises music workshops, gigs, art groups, and community projects throughout the year for people experiencing mental health problems.

Tickets priced £8 for adults will be available on the door or can be purchased in advance here (£1.05 booking fee applies). Accompanied under-18s are entitled to a free ticket.

The orchestra, founded in 2009 and now in its tenth season, has raised more than £15,000 for local charities.

If journalists or photographers would like to attend the concert for the purposes of review, please contact / 07766 305676 to be added to the media list. A selection of photographs from the concert will be made available for media usage by

Image: The Portsmouth Philharmonic Orchestra playing at the Portsmouth Festivities in the summer of 2018. Photo credit: Colin Farmery /

Chichester Singers offer classic and contemporary

Phil Hewitt writes:

The Chichester Singers mark the centenary of the armistice which ended the First World War with a concert combining classic and contemporary in Chichester Cathedral on Saturday, November 3.

Under the title “Lest We Forget”, they will offer Ron Corp’s And All the Trumpets Sounded and Brahms’ Requiem. Musical director Jonathan Willcocks said: “To mark the centenary, we are combining one of the great works of the choral repertoire with a very dramatic contemporary piece. We were planning the concert with the centenary of the armistice in mind, and the choir were very keen to perform Brahms’ Requiem again.

Pictured: Jonathan Willcocks


Concert page:

Preview: Portsmouth Choral Union’s Armistice Anniversary Concert

Ian Schofield writes:

Earlier this year Portsmouth Choral Union gave two performances of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s ‘A Sea Symphony’, one in Germany and the other here in Portsmouth. As part of their commemorative concert to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War, they will perform Vaughan Williams’s rarely heard cantata ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’. For audiences familiar with the pastoral nature of works such as his ‘The Lark Ascending’ and ‘Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis’, this powerful work will demonstrate a much more dramatic side to the composer’s musical personality.

Written in 1936, Dona Nobis Pacem is a plea for peace and refers to then-recent wars and the growing fear of a new one. Its wide-ranging texts are drawn from the Catholic Mass, three poems by Walt Whitman, passages from the Bible and part of a political speech by John Bright – in which he tried to prevent the Crimean War. The work is accompanied by a large orchestra and includes important parts for Soprano and Baritone soloists.

The concert will take place at St. Mary’s Church Portsea on Saturday 17th November. Also in the programme will be Howard Goodall’s ethereal ‘Eternal Light’, the beauty of this modern classic will be enhanced by graceful dance form members of the Giselle Academy.

Concert page:

Portsmouth Chamber Music Series features pianist Steven Osborne

Award-winning pianist Steven Osborne will be in concert at Portsmouth Guildhall on Monday 5 November.

Steven is one of the most highly regarded pianists in the world. His numerous awards include The Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year (2013) and two Gramophone Awards.

You can learn more about Steven from his blog where he has reflected on why people go to concerts and reminisced about attending a concert that his wife, who is also a musician, took part in.

The responses to his blog post offered different motivations to why people attend concerts: one audience member said, “It’s about the experience and emotion connected to music. You lose yourself, it’s overwhelming & uplifting.”

A mother brought her 7 and 12-year-old boys to a concert to show them that there is a new world where beautiful music exists. In Portsmouth, one person goes regularly because the music takes her mind away from her anxiety and depression.

Whatever your motivation might be, the Portsmouth Chamber Music Series is supported by the University of Portsmouth in partnership with the Portsmouth Cultural Trust, Music in the Round and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, to bring internationally renowned musicians to local audiences and enhance the cultural offering of the city.

The programme for Steven Osborne’s concert in Portsmouth shows him at his finest. There will be wonderful sets of miniatures by Poulenc and Debussy, contrasted with a highly dramatic sonata by Prokofiev, and then perhaps the finest of all piano sonatas, Schubert’s final Sonata in B-flat.

Tickets are £18 (£16 concessions) and available through the Guildhall’s box office and you can read more about Steven Osborne and his blog at For questions about the Portsmouth Chamber Music Series, contact Colin Jagger, Director of Music at the University of Portsmouth on 023 9284 3023 (

Photo credit: Ben Ealovega

Preview: stirring works by Haydn and Handel at Emsworth concert

Diana Wren writes:

Portsmouth Festival Choir was so pleased with its last concert venue that it is revisiting Emsworth Baptist Church for its next concert, its first under the direction of its new conductor, Ben Lathbury (pictured).

The main work will be will be Haydn’s stirring Nelson Mass. When he wrote this work, Haydn’s world was in turmoil. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than a year. The previous year, in early 1797, his armies had crossed the Alps and threatened Vienna itself. In May 1798, Napoleon invaded Egypt to destroy Britain’s trade routes to the East.

So the summer of 1798 was a terrifying time for Austria, and Haydn’s own title for it was Missa in Angustiis (Mass for troubled times). However, Napoleon was dealt a stunning defeat in the Battle of the Nile by British forces led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Because of this, the mass gradually acquired the nickname Lord Nelson Mass. In 1800, Lord Nelson himself visited the Austrian court and may well have heard the mass performed.

Paired with this work, will be Handel’s four Coronation Anthems. Handel wrote these for the coronation of King George II, and each is designed for a different part of the Coronation ceremony. The most popular one, Zadok the Priest, has been performed at every coronation since its premiere. However, the other three are well worth hearing and the choir will perform them in the order in which they were written.

The choir will be accompanied by the Portsmouth Festival Orchestra and four fine soloists who have delighted local audiences before, namely Hugo Herman-Wilson, Dominic Bevan, Anna Cooper and Clare Tunney.

The concert takes place on Saturday 17th November at 7.30 pm in Emsworth Baptist Church in North Street. There is plentiful free parking nearby. Tickets are £16 and £13 available from or from choir members. Students and under 18’s go free.

Visit the concert page.

Preview: Parry Centenary by the Portsmouth Baroque Choir

Sarah Raper writes:

7 October is the centenary of Sir Charles Hubert Parry’s death (7.2.1848 – 7.10.1918).

In their concert on Saturday 20th October at the church of the Holy Spirit, Southsea, Portsmouth Baroque Choir will sing some of his best-known works. ‘Blest Pair of Sirens’ was commissioned by and dedicated to Charles Villiers Stanford. ‘I was Glad’ was written originally for the coronation of Edward VII but rewritten in its present form for the coronation of George V in June 1911. ‘Hear my words, ye people’ was written for the Festival of the Salisbury Diocesan Choral Association and ends with the hymn ‘O praise ye the Lord’.

The centrepiece of the programme is Parry’s ‘Songs of Farewell’, written during the First World War and when Parry knew that he had not long to live. Including them is an appropriate way to mark the centenary of the Armistice. A number of Parry’s part-songs and two of his organ preludes are also included in the programme.

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Preview: “The Divine Genius of Mr Purcell” by the Chichester Voices

David Russell writes:

Chichester Voices’ next concert is “The Divine Genius of Mr Purcell” celebrating the work of Baroque genius Henry Purcell. It will be performed at St George’s Church, Cleveland Road, Chichester, PO19 7AD, on Saturday November 10th 2018 at 7pm.

Although Purcell’s works are not quite as well known as Handel’s, with the exception of the achingly beautiful “Dido’s Lament” which will be performed, they effortlessly display the same varied range of musical styles, from sparkling grandeur, through interweaving fugal passages, to stunning polyphony, combining solo, choral & orchestral writing.

The choir is raising money for the very deserving St Wilfrid’s Hospice and continues the theme of single composer tributes, following on from the hugely successful, sell-out Handel concert this time last year.

The concert will feature professional soloists, The Orchestra of Friends, and 2 guest trumpeters, highlighting the majesty & splendour of the baroque repertoire! The programme includes the hauntingly beautiful “Dido’s Lament”; the Coronation Anthems “I was Glad” and “My Heart is Inditing” for 8 part chorus; orchestral works such as the “Fantasia no.7 for Strings” & “Sonata in D for Trumpet & Strings”; and the popular “Te Deum & Jubilate Deo in D”….the preface to the vocal score describes how ‘all the strands come together at the final Amen, and, with the trumpets soaring above the ensemble, a work of great technical and musical ingenuity ends in a blaze of sound’! Don’t miss it!

Concert page:

Pearl’s Stamina: two concerts this October in Romsey Abbey

Dame Pearl Mace from Southampton (pictured) had her ninetieth birthday last month. In her career as a teacher she showed thousands of youngsters how to play the violin. She also founded a musical dynasty. Her son Michael is a well-respected ‘cellist who tutors Army bandsmen on the instrument. Her grandchildren are musical too.

Pearl is also famed for her stamina. She and ten other musicians will be rehearsing and performing for something in the order of ten hours as they play two blockbuster concerts in this month at Romsey Abbey. Pearl will take her place among the first violins. Younger musicians freely admit that they would love to have Pearl’s staying power.

Players from the Havant Symphony, the Portsmouth Philharmonia, the Meon Valley and many other ensembles besides will take their places in the Southampton Concert Orchestra and the Charity Symphony Orchestra to perform several challenging, but well-known works.

On Saturday 13th October the Southampton Concert Orchestra will play a great programme including The Planets by Gustav Holst, Gustav Mahler’s Rucket-Lieder and Ottorino Respighi’s Pines of Rome. The conductor is Paul Ingram.

On Saturday the 27th October the same players will appear with the Charity Symphony Orchestra performing Anton Bruckner’s Symphony number 8 plus Richard Wagner’s overture the Flying Dutchman as well as his Good Friday Music from the opera Parsifal. Craig Lawton will conduct the CSO which is raising money for Leukaemia Busters, a very worthy charity.

Tickets can be obtained on line via or from the Romsey Visitor Centre on 01794 512987.

Stuart Reed

Preview: Mozart and Haydn at Ferneham Hall – all change!

Remember the days when classical orchestras filed onto the stage in sepulchral silence like mourners at a funeral? With a curt bow from the stern-faced conductor, the ensemble would play obscure, high-brow works. It was as though the audience didn’t even exist. And woe betides the luckless audience member who applauded in the wrong place.

Thankfully, times are changing. At last, amateur orchestras are waking up to the fact that classical music audiences are getting smaller and older. Something has to be done to welcome younger newcomers to the concert scene and foster their interest.

In the forefront of this change in mood and already making strides in the right direction is the Havant Chamber Orchestra. Their progressive conductor, Robin Browning, has already taken the initiative by bringing the orchestra off the stage and closer to the public. He feels that this gives a better connection between the players and those who have left the comfort of their own home to be there. Chamber orchestras probably began that way in the days of Haydn and Mozart – small ensembles in modestly sized rooms, cheek by jowl with the listeners. Figuratively speaking, the audience and players embraced one another.

In the Havant Chamber Orchestra’s next concert Robin intends to connect with the audience even more by prefacing each work with a few, well-chosen, words of introduction. Many will regard this as a welcome move but Robin is treading warily. Wisely, while breaking down barriers between orchestra and audience, he is anxious not to alienate the more traditional music lovers.

HCO’s concert at 7.30 pm on Saturday 13 October at Fernham Hall, Fareham is sure to be a delight especially for Mozart and Haydn fans.

First on the bill is the overture “Mitridate”. Mozart wrote it when he was just fourteen. It’s for an opera in three acts and was performed at the Milan carnival in December 1770.

Next on the programme is Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto. It’s probably the finest work ever written for a solo instrument. There’s pleasure in every note of the opening allegro. The andante would sooth even the most troubled brow and the rondo finale is full of glee.

Widely recognised as one of the finest clarinet players in this region, Robert Blanken is the soloist of this famous work. He will also give a pre-concert talk about it at 6.30 pm.

There’s another overture on the menu too. Called “L’incontro improvviso”, it’s written by Haydn. The opera’s title translates as “the unexpected encounter” and it has a Turkish/Arabian setting. In those days the Austrians were fascinated by all things Middle Eastern.

To round off the evening Robin has included Mozart’s Symphony Number 36. Known as the “Linz”, it’s a favourite of his. Mozart composed it at breakneck speed. It took him four days to write it just to please the mayor of the small Austrian town of Linz, which he and his wife were visiting.

This promises to be a gem of a concert. Tickets can be obtained via or by telephoning 01329 231942.

Stuart Read

Concert link:

Chichester Chamber Concerts launch latest season

Presenting its 14th season in 13 years, Chichester Chamber Concerts will be offering something genuinely special over the autumn and into the spring.

The season offers a concert a month at the Assembly Room, North Street, Chichester on Thursdays at 7.30pm, running from October through to March.

Read more at:

Visit for further details of the concerts. The next one is on Thursday 8th November at 7.30pm with the Merlin Ensemble (pictured).

Crotchets & Quavers: a new series of concerts at Chichester’s St John’s Chapel

A new series of concerts at Chichester’s St John’s Chapel is being masterminded by Crispin Ward, head of orchestral studies at the University of Chichester.

Crispin is hoping that the Thursday lunchtime concerts will help St John’s be seen as much more of a music venue: “We have used it before and it has been used in the Festival of Chichester, but we would love to see it develop. Our idea is to get something going there regularly and develop it as a concert space that is working really well. The potential is huge.”

Coming up are Crotchet and Quavers are on October 4 and Clarinet Roulette on October 11. The concerts are 12-12.45pm. People can come and go as they please. There are no tickets. The concerts are free, with donations going to the Friends of St John’s.

Read more at:

4 October

11 October

Preview: “Lest We Forget” concert by the Chichester Singers

Jonathan Willcocks writes:

November 2018 will be a moment for sombre reflection on the Centenary of the Armistice that brought to an end four years of bitter conflict which took the lives of so many in the Great War.

To mark this moment of national remembrance, we will perform two highly appropriate and deeply moving works. Ron Corp is one of the UK’s leading contemporary choral composers (and conductors) and his work And all the trumpets sounded combines the words of the Latin Requiem Mass with those of poets such as Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen, whose work was so affected by their wartime experiences.

Partnered with this evocative new work will be Brahms’ Requiem, truly one of the great masterpieces of the choral repertoire. And, for our soloists, we will enjoy again the exceptional work of soprano Claire Seaton and baritone Gareth Brynmor John.

Concert date: 3 November

Music appreciation sessions with Angela Zanders

Concert pianist and music lecturer Angela Zanders continues her courses on music appreciation at the studio in the New Park Centre, Chichester, starting on September 24. “They are open to anyone who enjoys classical music and is interested in learning more about the subject”, she said.

The course of eight sessions starts on Monday 24 September from 1.30pm to 3.30pm at the New Park Centre and is entitled “The Inspiration of Image in Music” and will explore a wide variety of music inspired by such images as water, bells, the times of day and night.

To reserve your space, or for any further information about the course, contact Angela on 07582 537123 or email
Read more at the link below.

Preview: “Lest We Forget” concert by the Renaissance Choir

“Lest We Forget” is the title of the next Petersfield concert by the Renaissance Choir. It is a commemoration of the end of World War 1.

This concert provides the astonishing programming opportunity of performing works from three composers who served in their respective armies in the war: the British Army (Ralph Vaughan Williams), the French Army (André Caplet) and the German Army (Paul Hindemith). Adept programming is a mark of the choir that was recognised when the choir received its most recent award from “The News”.

The programme will also feature the written word, with poetry being read by Piers Burton-Page, a Petersfield resident and erstwhile broadcaster on BBC Radio 3.

In a change to its usual unaccompanied programmes, Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem will be performed along with St Peter’s organist, Mark Dancer, as well as with Cameron Todd playing trumpet and Nik Knight (timpanist).

Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) wrote this work in 1936 as a response to his time in the war where he obviously experienced many traumatic events.

The work goes a long way to refute the minority view that he has little to say as a composer and that he relied too frequently on insubstantial folk melodies. This work firmly establishes his credentials as a man who can paint the full range of human emotions in his writing.

Dona Nobis Pacem is regarded as his catharsis, finally setting aside the horrors which he must have seen when acting as a stretcher-bearer in the trenches. He saw a great deal of action at the front but, despite writing many letters during this period, he kept quiet about his experiences. Dona Nobis Pacem has brutality and battle, excitement, fear, pain, courage and bravura and, finally, resolution, which is borne by a belief that the best of the human spirit and the desire for peace will prevail.

It is almost certainly also a response to a worry about war coming again, written in the year in which the Germans marched into the Rhineland and David Lloyd George visited and admired Hitler.

Poems by Walt Whitman (1819-1982) form the central texts for the work. Whitman was a pacifist who had been a nurse in the American Civil War. Vaughan Williams was an admirer of his and set his poems in many of his other pieces.

There’s a great variation of and a huge contrast in musical styles in this work. The choir moves from beautiful chamber textures and intimate sacred choral writing to a huge operatic recitative and choruses. The phrase “Dona nobis pacem” is repeated and re-framed in four different ways in the piece, underlining the composer’s deep desire for peace.

André Caplet (1878 – 1925) composed his beautiful Messe a trois voix in 1920, just a few years before he died from pleurisy in 1925 as the result of a wartime gas attack. This work is full of haunting references to the injury which had such a dramatic effect on him.

As a composer, he experimented with unusual combinations of voices and instruments, producing intriguing timbres. In the Mass, there are points where the three female voice parts produce an almost exact representation of an air-raid siren. More poignantly still is the fact that some vocal effects appear to represent the sound of gas shells, or, as Wilfred Owen put it in his poem Dulce et Decorum Est, “All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots of gas-shells dropping softly behind.”

Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) wrote his Six Chansons in 1939. These songs are very similar in style to the music of Francis Poulenc, a composer with whom the Renaissance Choir has a particular affinity. Hindemith enlisted in the German army in 1917 but didn’t see much action because his c/o, a musician, wanted him kept safe to play in the regimental string quartet!

The Chansons use rustic poems written by Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926). “The Doe”, “A Swan”, “Since All is Passing”, “Springtime”, “In Winter”, and “Orchard”, were written in French, in a beautiful lyrical style.

Hindemith’s settings echo the lyricism of the poetry. They are wonderful to sing – each one is different in character and mood. You can easily see the swan gliding majestically over a glassy pond, and the doe bounding gracefully through the forest. We tend to think of Hindemith in terms of his later instrumental music, but these earlier a cappella pieces are anything but atonal.

Funtington Music Group launches its autumn season

Harpist Frances Kelly visits Funtington Music Group in September to open the autumn season.

“An Illustrated History of the Harp” is in the Chichester University’s Chapel of the Ascension on Wednesday, September 12 at 7.30pm.

See and read more at the link below.

Preview: Victoria Puttock & Mark Dancer (Saxophone and Piano)

On Saturday September 22 Victoria Puttock and Mark Dancer will be giving an evening concert of music for saxophone and piano in St Peter’s Church.

Most people tend to think of the saxophone purely as a jazz instrument, but there is a substantial repertoire of classical compositions for the instrument, and they will be exploring it over the course of the evening. The music to be heard will range from the rustic charms of Paule Maurice’s Tableaux de Provence, across the Atlantic for some very varied American works for the instrument, and back to France for some Spanish-inspired music by Henri Busser and the well-known Fantasia on Themes from Bizet’s Carmen by François Borne.

Victoria Puttock hails from Petersfield and studied at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London and then at the Royal College of Music, graduating with distinction in her Master’s degree. She prides herself on championing the core repertoire for the saxophone, whilst exploring new works that showcase the full range of this diverse instrument.

Victoria has performed at many prestigious venues including Royal Albert Hall (Elgar room), Cadogan Hall, V&A Museum, National Portrait Gallery, St John’s, Smith Square and the Southbank. Victoria is an active chamber musician and has worked with many ensembles including the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta Academy, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Electronic Orchestra and the Multi Storey Orchestra in the BBC Proms.

Mark Dancer is a familiar face on the Petersfield musical scene, having been teaching, directing choirs and performing in concerts in Hampshire either as soloist or accompanist for more than twenty years. He is Director of Music at St Peter’s Church, Petersfield and conducts the Petersfield Choral Society. He is much in demand as an accompanist both on organ and piano, known for his sensitive and sparkling style of playing. He and Victoria first performed together in 2016 at the Michael Hurd Bursary Award Winners’ concert and have given several concerts together since to great acclaim.

MVC Open Night on 23 September

The Solent Male Voice Choir are inviting men to try out singing with a male voice choir at their OPEN NIGHT on Tuesday 25th September at 7.30pm in St Faith’s Church Hall (The Pallant Centre), The Pallant, Havant.

The choir sings a wide range of music sometimes in four-part and sometimes two-part harmony. Their current programme includes music by Cole Porter, Leonard Cohen and Vivaldi. Popular pieces such as I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables and fun sea shanty songs like Whale of a Tale from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea add to the mix.

At the OPEN NIGHT you will be able to hear and then join in with the choir. There is no need for any musical skill as it is all just fun. No need to book, just turn up, there is ample parking adjacent to The Pallant. More information at

Portsmouth Chamber Music Series announces new season

Now in its fifteenth season, the Portsmouth Chamber Music Series brings world-class musicians to the city. In partnership with Music in the Round and the Portsmouth Cultural Trust, we present the finest music in informal surroundings where you are never more than a few metres from the performers. Q and A sessions follow each concert, and a 20% discount is available to those who book the whole series.

Tickets available from the Portsmouth Guildhall: 023 9387 0211

For further information or to join our mailing list, please contact or 023 9284 3023

£18 full price, £16 concessions: book all six concerts and get a 20% discount, so £86.40 for the whole season (£76.80 concs). Student-standby tickets are available from 7pm on the day of each concert, for £6. Prices include booking fee and restoration levy.

All concerts start at 7.30pm in the Portsmouth Guildhall: seating is unreserved, with doors open from 7pm.

Monday 8 October, 2018, 7.30pm   Read a review

Goldmund Quartet

Florian Schötz & Pinchas Adt violins, Christoph Vandory viola, Raphael Paratore cello

HAYDN String Quartet in D, Op. 76 No. 5

SHOSTAKOVICH String Quartet No. 3 in F, Op. 73

BEETHOVEN String Quartet in E minor, Op. 59 No. 2

Rising stars from Germany, the Goldmund play with enormous flair and commitment to the music. The programme includes pieces by three of the greatest composers of string quartets. Haydn’s example is from his late great Op. 76 set, while the Shostakovich is the third of fifteen. That does not make it an early work, however, as he had already composed nine symphonies, and this quartet is a masterpiece in its own right. The Beethoven is the second of the three Rasumovsky quartets, a set which sees the composer moving away from the ‘classical’ style towards the truly unique style of his later works.

“The Goldmunds make a beautiful sound, elegant and transparent, with a real sense that these four players are friends both on and off the concert platform.” – Gramophone Magazine, Jan. 2017

Post-concert Q&A


Monday 5 November, 2018, 7.30pm   Read more

Steven Osborne 

POULENC 3 Novelettes

DEBUSSY Images Book II

PROKOFIEV Piano Sonata No. 7

SCHUBERT Sonata in B-flat, D. 960

Steven Osborne’s insightful and idiomatic interpretations have made him one of the most highly regarded pianists in the world. His numerous awards include The Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year (2013) and two Gramophone Awards. This programme shows him at his finest, with wonderful sets of miniatures by Poulenc and Debussy contrasted with a highly dramatic sonata by Prokofiev, and then perhaps the finest of all piano sonatas, Schubert’s last.

“Some pianists gild everything they touch with their own personality; some are like chameleons, finding a new colour for each composer. Last night the wonderful Scottish pianist Steven Osborne did both, which lent the whole evening a miraculous air…every note seemed to vibrate with intelligence.” – The Daily Telegraph, Feb. 2016

Post-concert Q&A


Monday 28 January, 2019, 7.30pm

Ensemble 360

Benjamin Nabarro & Claudia Ajmone-Marsan violins, Ruth Gibson viola, Gemma Rosefield cello, Matthew Hunt clarinet, Naomi Atherton horn, Tim Horton piano

DOHNÁNYI Sextet in C, Op. 37


BRAHMS Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115

Ensemble 360 is the resident ensemble of Music in the Round, who play in a variety of combinations up to eleven musicians in total, allowing the possibility of programming interesting works which are rarely heard. This concert is a good example, featuring sextets which were composed just two years apart, and yet with sound-worlds which could not be more different. Indeed the Dohnányi is far more similar in style to Brahms, and this is a work that truly merits the label of ‘unjustly neglected masterpiece’. The Brahms on the other hand needs no introduction as this is perhaps the most famous of all his chamber works.

“The clarinettist [Matthew Hunt] played so beautifully it was as though he wished to make the very air of the hall melt.” – Tokyo Times

Post-concert Q&A


Monday 25 March, 2019, 7.30pm

Trio Isimsiz

Erdem Misirlioglu piano, Pablo Hernán Benedí violin, Michael Petrov cello

MOZART Divertimento in B-flat, K. 254

FAURÉ Piano Trio in D minor, Op. 120

BEETHOVEN Piano Trio in E-flat, Op. 70 No. 2

Formed in 2009 at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, the Trio Isimsiz won 1st Prize and the Audience Prize at the Trondheim Competition in 2015. They combine great unanimity of ensemble with lots of individuality of character. Mozart’s delightful first piano trio is contrasted with one of Fauré’s last works, composed when he was 78. Beethoven’s Op. 70 No. 2 is the companion piece to the more famous ‘Ghost’ Trio, but, as Beethoven once remarked in connection with two of his symphonies, it might be less popular ‘because it is so much better’!

“An outstanding debut disc by the Trio Isimsiz whose unusually thoughtful interpretations are presented with dazzling technical mastery” – Gramophone Magazine, March 2018

Post-concert Q&A


Monday 29 April, 2019, 7.30pm

Piatti Quartet

Nathaniel Anderson-Frank & Michael Trainor violins, Tetsuumi Nagata viola, Jessie Ann Richardson cello

HAYDN Quartet in D, Op. 20 No. 4

JOSEPH PHIBBS String Quartet No. 1

SCHUBERT Quartet in G, D. 887

We are delighted to welcome back the Piatti Quartet who gave such a memorable performance two years ago with Krzysztof Chorzelski of the Belcea Quartet. This time they present a quartet from the first set by Haydn regarded as ‘mature’. Indeed it is a fabulous set and No. 4 is one of the strongest. The Schubert quartet dates from towards the end of his life, and, like the piano sonata programmed earlier in the season, is a towering pillar of the repertoire. Joseph Phibbs has rapidly made a name for himself with orchestral works premiered by conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leonard Slatkin, and Vassily Petrenko. The Belcea Quartet has recently commissioned a third quartet from him, and No. 1 was commissioned by the Piatti, and premiered by them in 2015.

“The Phibbs proved formally exhilarating yet plangent in its combination of vibrancy and formal rigour.” – The Sunday Times, May 2015

Post-concert Q&A


Monday 20 May, 2019, 7.30pm

Ensemble 360

Tim Horton piano, Benjamin Nabarro violin, Ruth Gibson viola, Gemma Rosefield cello

MAHLER Piano Quartet in A minor

STRAUSS Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 13

BRAHMS Piano Quartet in A, Op. 26

Mahler and Richard Strauss may be household names to orchestra-goers, but they are almost unknown for their chamber music. Mahler’s haunting single movement was composed during his late-teens, while Strauss’ full-length work in four movements dates from 1884 when he was 20. It is a wonderful piece full of hints of what was to come in the magnificent series of tone poems the first of which was premiered just two years later. Brahms’ quartet on the other hand is a fully mature piece is in his most energetic and entertaining style.

“…one immediately felt in the presence of players who embraced them with affectionate abandon – and had the skill to bring it off.” – BBC Music Magazine

Post-concert Q&A

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News: The Consort of Twelve open new season in Chichester

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

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