Review: Charity Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 New Year concert

Stuart Reed writes:

Without a shadow of a doubt the Charity Symphony Orchestra’s 2019 New Year concert was a great success. Under the baton of that genial conductor Paul Ingram the musicians rehearsed all day and performed a concert the same evening.

Former professional violinist, Bree Avery Enemark, led the ensemble. With a music degree from Western Australia, Bree has toured Europe and Japan and spent six years with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra. She thought the Charity Symphony Orchestra really did itself proud.

This is hardly surprising. There were some first-class players in every section. Bree’s able desk partner was the effervescent violinist, Alice Plant from the Havant Symphony Orchestra.

Jenny Reeves, the leader of the Portsmouth Light Orchestra, was also in the first violins. Mary Hyde from Per Piacere lent lustre to the seconds. Amanda Berry from the Kalore Trio led the ‘cello section and Mary Toms from the Meon Valley Orchestra was among the basses.

The programme was loaded with popular, highly enjoyable pieces. Rossini’s overture, The Italian Girl in Algiers, Wagner’s Die Meistersingers overture, Strauss’s Blue Danube and Radetzky March, Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances and Bizet’s Carmen Suite all went down a treat with the sizeable audience who’d braved the winter chill to be there.

The icing on the cake for orchestra and audience alike was the presence of five superb singers. Barbara Howells (soprano). Penny Killick (soprano), Kaarina Manzur (mezzo-soprano), Max Bullough (tenor) and Clive Hilton (baritone) performed works by Gounod, Handel, Sullivan and Donizetti marvellously.

Schonberg’s Bring Him Home from Les Miserables was a real audience pleaser. But, for many, Mozart’s Letter Duet from the Marriage of Figaro was the high point of the evening.

Part of this tender duet’s fame was that it was used in The Shawshank Redemption, a film about life in an American prison. The actor Morgan Freeman was given the memorable lines “It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away”. Kaarina Manzur and Barbara Howells gave us all a truly uplifting moment with their rendition.

The Rose Road Association was the CSO’s chosen charity for the evening. Since 1962 it has supported young disabled people at the Bradbury Centre in Southampton. They are working tirelessly to make a world where disability is not a barrier. Audience donations on the night and a percentage of the ticket prices will aid their efforts.

David Allwright, a charity worker with Rose Road, summed up their gratitude by saying that was a privilege to see talented musicians coming from far and near to use their skills to support their young people. To find out more or to donate please go to

Image of the orchestra in rehearsal.

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