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A celebration of the life of Peter Craddock

06/03/2019

Peter Craddock BEM was a big man in every sense of the word. So it was appropriate that the orchestra mustered to celebrate his life and work should be on a grand scale.

Eighty-one musicians were on the platform at the Oaklands School, Waterlooville. Three conductors each took a turn in directing the ensemble through a programme containing some of Peter’s favourite pieces. Violinists Cathy Mathews and Brian Howells swopped places to lead differing works. Stella Scott and Amanda de Jong Cleyndert also alternated at principal ‘cellists.

Only a man of Peter’s vision and strength of purpose could have founded the Havant Symphony Orchestra in 1962 and kept it running for fifty years. He also founded the Havant Chamber Orchestra in 1965. Both orchestras continue to this day.

Current musicians of the HSO and HCO were joined by former players, both amateur and professional. Familiar faces from yesteryear mingled with more recently joined players. There was a clutch of ex-Royal Marines like Rod Preston (violin), Richard Boland (violin), Alan Ham (bass), Steve Tanner (flute/piccolo) and Tom Mailey (trombone). Former Scots Guards musician Robert Martin sat among the first violins with other outstanding players like Lilias Lamont, Jonathan Scott and vibrant newcomer Alice Plant. Music teachers and other professionals rubbed shoulders with dedicated and able amateurs.

Former Bob Harding bursary holder, Mark Wigglesworth, welcomed the audience and players. Mark has enjoyed a long relationship with many famous orchestras including the English National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, New York, the Netherlands Opera, the Bavarian State Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera Australia and Glyndebourne. In the programme he conducted the Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and ‘Cello. The dazzling soloists were Duncan Riddell and Richard Harwood. Mark also conducted Delius’ Walk in the Paradise Garden drawing out all the finer nuances of romantic love and passionate directness contained in that wonderful work.

A second former Bursary holder, Toby Purser, conducted Nikolai’s Merry Wives of Windsor and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture. After gaining experience with the HSO, Toby went on to found and conduct the Orion Orchestra. He also conducted the Royal Philharmonic, the Liverpool Philharmonic, the English National Opera and many more besides. Highly skilled and with a charming manner, he is the director of the New Sussex Opera.

The current Bursary holder, Stefano Boccacci, from Bogota, Colombia, is the creator of the Tutta Forza Chamber Orchestra. He has also been a musical director if the Nashville Big Band. At Oaklands he conducted the finale of the Maurice Blower Symphony in C. Peter Craddock prepared and conducted the HSO’s world premiere performance of this work.

The afternoon’s performance was punctuated between numbers by tributes to Peter Craddock by Terry Barfoot, Donald McDonald and Tony Gutteridge. In conclusion, Peter’s widow, Sandra thanked the concert’s organisers, the players and the audience for their terrific, fitting tribute to her husband.

Stuart Reed

Pictured: Stefano Boccacci, Toby Purser and Mark Wigglesworth

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