Review: Meon Valley Orchestra charity spring concert

The Mayors of Fareham and Gosport, the audience and the players themselves all thought that the Meon Valley Orchestra’s 2019 Charity concert was the best yet. Many people said they were impressed at the MVO’s high standard of playing and steady musical improvement over the years.

There was not an empty seat in the United Reformed Church in Fareham – a complete sell-out. Lots of friends and family of the musicians were in the audience as well as a bunch of hardy walkers from the Meon Ramblers Group, who regularly support the MVO. Jana Browne, the Development Officer from Southampton University, came along to tell people about the Cancer Immunology Fund which was this year’s chosen charity.

The programme was both popular and entertaining with a wide variety of numbers ranging from pieces by Handel, Tchaikovsky and Khachaturian, through works by Sullivan and Binge to lollipops like Mancini’s Pink Panther and Herold’s Clog Dance. Under the baton of Musical Director Lorraine Masson, the whole evening was carried off with aplomb. Violinist Bryan Lant led the ensemble with his customary verve. Two of Lorraine’s friends, Chris Davis and Peter Best, both former Royal Marines Band Service Officers, beefed up the MVO’s small first violin section.

One of the highlights of the evening was Ann Roe’s rendition of the First Movement of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat. This was her very first public solo performance but she conquered her nerves, played well and the piece went down a storm.

But, without doubt, the audience loved the eight-year-old guest conductor, Corey. With an impressively steady beat of his baton, he took the MVO though Somewhere over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz. Like Ann Roe, this was Corey’s debut performance. Also, like Ann, whose parents are both brass players, Corey comes from a musical background. He is the grandson of Lorraine and son of ‘cellist Jamie. With a pedigree like that and an early start, he’s bound to be going places as a musician.

A few accidental crash, bang wallops from the percussion section between pieces produced audience hilarity as former opera singer and drummer-under-training, Victoria Smith, moved cymbals and stuff about ready for the next number. Lorraine kept her cool during these unfortunate interludes and the super-friendly audience readily accepted that accidents do happen.

The MVO’s performance, the full house, the fantastic refreshments baked by Irene Reed, a beautifully decorated cake by Antonia Kent and the well-patronised raffle with prizes donated by Solent Diabetes Association, all contributed to the success of the event. The whole evening raised £1,670 for the Talent Fund which will help the University of Southampton’s research into immunotherapy which can enable the body’s immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells. This was a good result for a worthy cause, if ever there was one.

It should be noted that the Meon Valley Orchestra accepts new players of any ability. String players are particularly welcome. Rehearsals are on Thursday morning at Meon Hall, Meonstoke. For more information ring Annabel Armstrong on 01489 877130.

Stuart Reed

Visit the concert page.

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