Review: Havant Orchestra – celebrating a hall for all

Stella Scott writes:

The Pallant Centre in Havant hosted a service of remembrance, thanksgiving and celebration on November 4th 2018 and Havant Symphony Orchestra (HSO) were proud to be represented there by four of its members who provided a string quartet to support the hymn-singing.

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The hall at the Pallant Centre was, reputedly, built as a memorial to those who served in the first World War. St Faith’s Church, which owns the hall, therefore felt it appropriate to hold a thanksgiving service at this time when the centenary of the end of the war is being celebrated everywhere.

In fact, St Faith’s Church in Havant is particularly fortunate in that it owns quite a complex of buildings which they have recently begun renovating to form the ‘Pallant Centre’ (named after the road it is in). The Pallant Centre operates as a superb community hub for all sorts of activities from tots’ music classes through Brownies to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and the completion of the first phase of the renovations provided another reason for a celebration!

The event was a perfect mix of church service and traditional hymn singing with contributions from several of the groups who regularly use the facilities, and all in the presence of Mayor and Mayoress of Havant. The Solent Male Voice Choir sang; there were readings from members of Alcoholics Anonymous and SSAFA (the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen and Families Association); candles were lit by children from the Redeemed Christian Church of God and there was a display of skill by the Evolution Twirlers! The service was led by Canon Tom Kennar with St Faith’s Music Director, Hugh Darnley-Smith, at the piano.

Taking part in this lovely event prompted me to think about the importance of halls in general. Rehearsal halls, concert halls, community halls of all shapes and sizes are a vital resource for every community. They offer space for everyone from the very tiny to the very old to come together, whether for one-off events to share with family or friends or for regular meetings and activities. They promote physical health through activity and mental health by helping to combat loneliness and isolation. They are a physical manifestation of ‘community’ – wherever there is a hall, you know there are people who have understood their need to come together in all manner of different groupings and felt it deeply enough to put the effort into building and running the place.

Rehearsal and concert spaces can be a problem for orchestras, particularly full-size symphony orchestras which typically consist of 60-70 people, all playing instruments which require a decent amount of arm-moving space and all needing room for a music stand in front of them. That’s without even considering the conductor who takes up a space several feet square with music stand, arm waving and generally wandering about! Furthermore, you don’t want to be too close to the walls as the noise (ahem, I mean the beautiful sound…) of an orchestra can be pretty loud (loud enough for professional orchestras to have health and safety guidelines to comply with)!

HSO (and, until a few years ago, its sister group Havant Chamber Orchestra) have rehearsed at The Pallant Centre for as long as anyone can remember and are grateful also to be able to have some storage space there for their timpani!

It was only a few years ago that the future of The Pallant Centre was in doubt. It was tired and run down and in desperate need of bringing into the 21st century but the enormity of the task ahead seemed at first too great and there was talk of selling it off.

Thank goodness for the dedication of those at St Faith’s and in the wider community who stepped up to keep this superb facility going.

Havant Orchestras are indebted to you and are proud to be part of the Pallant Centre community.

We were on That’s TV Solent too!

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