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HSO: Another class performance

 

review by Bob Eagle 

This was another class performance from Horsham’s very talented symphony orchestra (leader Barry Sutton) to a near capacity audience at the Capitol. And it included a world premiere performance. 

I personally like orchestral concerts to start with a short lively piece, so Nicolai’s Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor fitted the bill perfectly. The orchestra tackled the piece with panache. From the ethereal opening the orchestra moved nicely into the first main theme. The light passages which followed skipped along in the dance style they conveyed. There was a clear sense of excitement in the middle of the piece and a clever contrast in style between the light dance sections and the slower more ponderous parts. And of course the whole orchestra stepped up a gear at the climax. It was a splendid opening for what was to follow. 

Suite Dialogues was a world premiere performance of a work by Adriano Adewale specially commissioned for the Horsham Symphony Orchestra as part of the Adopt a Composer partnership run by Making Music in partnership with Sound and Music, in association with BBC Radio 3, and funded by the PRS for Music Foundation and the Philip and Dorothy Green Trust.  The performance was recorded for BBC Radio 3. I feel sorry for today’s composers. They have to avoid the pitfalls of simply writing in the style of what has already gone before or of being so avant garde that they command little general interest. Adriano Adewale has done an excellent job. The programme notes tell us that Suite Dialogues is a piece about communication and openness. It was fresh, fascinating and fun. And full marks to the orchestra - and especially the percussion section - for managing the complex rhythms so effectively. A relatively short piece which could perhaps be further developed. It certainly deserves to be featured in other orchestras' repertoire. 

After the interval, the HSO performed Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances. Rachmaninov was the last of the great Romantic Russian composers with rich orchestrations, emotional melodies and dense harmonies. 

In the first movement, which incidentally is marked ‘non allegro’ (not fast), the HSO captured the energetic martial opening theme with rhythmic vivacity. The strings added to the ghostly feel of the piece before the orchestra returned to the dramatic military theme with gusto. 

The second movement is a waltz, opening with a brass fanfare, very well executed by the orchestra’s brass section.  The orchestra nicely managed the transition between the lilting and sad melody which followed, with its increasing twists and turns - for which the woodwind section in particular are to be congratulated - into the altogether more sinister and punchy ending of the movement. 

The third and final movement is the culmination of the piece. It began with an explosive statement of the Dies Irae (day of judgment) with great sound from the  brass and timpani. The orchestra gave a very sympathetic treatment to the main part of this movement which is a musical setting of the theme of wrath and judgment. But just when it seems that death has won the day the orchestra moved up another gear to the final section (almost Lone Rangerish!) which represents the triumph of life over death. 

Throughout, Steve Dummer the highly acclaimed conductor kept the orchestra under fine control; his easy style of communicating with the audience complimenting his style of conducting. As my conducting teacher used to say: "As you are, so shall the music be".  

Overall, it was a most enjoyable evening warmly appreciated by the audience and providing further proof of the amazing musical skills in this very talented orchestra. 





Almost like Duke Ellington

Horsham Symphony Orchestra – Saturday March 25th 2017 – The Capitol, Horsham

Conductor: Steve Dummer / Soloist: Mandhira de Saram / Leader: Barry Sutton 

Programme:

Berg – Violin Concerto

Brahms arr. Schoenberg – Piano Quartet in G minor Op. 25 

On previous occasions HSO have captivated us with romantic music. They have also demonstrated how disciplined they can be. This time they showed us intellect.

The Berg Violin Concerto was always going to be risky – the auditorium wasn’t full and some folk just don’t ‘get’ serial music. It was nevertheless stunning. 

Mandhira de Saram captivated everyone with a lyrical and accomplished performance. The orchestra responded sensitively: at the close there was magic in the air.

Steve Dummer turned tribulation to advantage. Having been struck with frozen shoulder, he made the decision to abandon the Webern arrangement of Schubert’s German Dances, and this gave him the opportunity to offer a comprehensive introduction to the Berg concerto, during which the orchestra demonstrated various themes and even sung the much-quoted Bach chorale. Steve’s most memorable phrase: “almost like Duke Ellington”. 

The original programme had been cleverly assembled to feature work by the three chief advocates of the ‘Second Viennese School’ – Webern, Berg and Schoenberg. The second half of the concert was given over to the last of these titans: his orchestral arrangement of a Brahms quartet. 

Purists might have wondered why Schoenberg bothered. Indeed (as the excellent programme notes told us) the orchestration was not altogether Brahms-like, except in the Andante. But it was a splendid choice for orchestra and audience alike – ending with a flourish which drew well-deserved applause. 

Should a local orchestra attempt the unusual sometimes? My answer has to be a resounding ‘yes’. Even if serial music is not so popular, it is powerful and magical. And how privileged we are to have the skilled HSO perform it for us!

 




Horsham Symphony Orchestra’s triple dose of tragedy


Saturday 26th November 2016


Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite
Berlioz: Romeo and Juliet Scène d’amour
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story


Horsham Symphony Orchestra opened its 2016-17 season on Saturday 26 November at The Capitol with some of the most exquisitely tragic pieces written for orchestra, inspired by Shakespeare’s tale of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. The opening bars of Prokofiev’s ballet suite enforced a mood of nervous exhilaration, as a battery of brash dissonance twice dissolved into a cathedral hush of sustained strings. The following tense melody of ‘Montagues and Capulets’ – known to many from the titles of BBC TV series The Apprentice – was similarly energised. The orchestra does loud very well; however, conductor Steve Dummer could have guided his players to intensify the emotional contrasts of the rest of the suite through more sensitive dynamic contouring and attention to textural detail.
Occasionally such moments surfaced in Berlioz’s ‘Scène d’Amour’, whose richer lyrical passages compelled Dummer to abandon the baton for more expressive hand gestures. After the interval, the audience was treated to an excerpt of Shakespeare’s own balcony scene (performed with youthful realism by two students from Guildford School of Acting, Katy Ellis and Harry Cooper), which provided a calming focus before the raw energy of the final showdown – Bernstein’s ‘Symphonic Dances’ from the musical West Side Story. Despite all its rhythmic intricacies – interweaving elements of classical modernism, Latin American genres and jazz – the orchestra pulled together to make this euphemism for interracial violence and loss pure gold. It was especially heart-warming to see the four young percussionists letting rip on drum kit, bongos and even a police whistle with visible enjoyment: I can think of no better introduction for budding instrumentalists to the world of orchestral music!
At the beginning of the concert Dummer introduced Adriano Adewale, the Brazilian composer with whom the orchestra will shortly begin work on a new commission as part of Making Music’s Adopt a Composer scheme. This will be a fantastic opportunity for our local orchestra and is testament to its enthusiasm for programming lesser-known and more modern classical works over the recent years. I look forward to hearing the results at their concert in July 2017.
 By Louisa Jones








Orchestra and Young Pianist On Fine Form 

by Stephen Dennison

The Capitol, Horsham

Saturday 25 June 2016

Conductor: Steve Dummer

Soloist: Julian Trevelyan

Leader: Barry Sutton


Beethoven - Leonore Overture No.3 Op.72B

Shostakovich - Piano Concerto No.2 Op.102

Mahler - Symphony No.1 In D


Horsham Symphony Orchestra’s summer concert was dedicated to the memory of John Stilwell, former President of the orchestra, cellist and teacher, who died in May.


Steve Dummer led the orchestra with verve and athleticism. The programme began with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No 3 and introduced us to solos from trumpet, horn and flute and the leadership of Barry Sutton.


Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No 2 followed with the prodigious talent of the teenage Julian Trevelyan, BBC Young Musician Piano Finalist 2016, in Horsham for the first time. Julian is clearly a star of the future and he received rapturous applause for his energetic rendering of the concerto, both the memorable and lyrical Andante and the rippling Allegro. Julian then treated us to a short impromptu encore, the Musical Snuffbox by Anatoly Lyadov. He is a confident young musician.


The second half was filled with Mahler’s well-known Symphony No 1. Steve Dummer marshaled the whole team, through the bird songs of the first movement, the tender and lyrical second, the funereal third, before the stormy fourth movement bringing all of the symphony together with extensive percussion reaching the rousing end; depression giving way to hope. Overall this feels like a symphony which is more fun to play for brass and woodwind than strings and there were a number of beautiful wind entries introduced with style by Steve Dummer.


Overall this was a neatly balanced programme with the orchestra in fine form and the bonus of hearing a special piano talent for the first time.

Technique and Flair 

by John Sherlock

The Capitol, Horsham

Sunday March 20th 2016

Conductor: Steve Dummer

Soloist: Gerard McChrystal

Leader: Rachel Ellis


Gershwin - Cuban Overture

Arnold - Engalsh Dances Set 1 Op 27

Milhaud Scaramouche

Gershwin - An American in Paris

Heath - The Celtic

Ravel - La Valse


This was an astonishing programme. HSO have proved in the past that they are skilled interpreters of the romantic repertoire. This time they offered an afternoon of 20th century music that required intense player technique and concentration.

They delivered this challenging programme superbly. In the first piece – Gershwin’s energetic Cuban Overture – we were skilfully transported to a faraway destination, with a magic woodwind sound conjuring lazy Caribbean evenings.

The Arnold brought us home again, demanding extraordinary feats from the players, who came across as highly competent and unflustered.

The charismatic saxophonist Gerard McChrystal joined us for Milhaud’s rhythmic ‘Scaramouche’ and once again the woodwind excelled, delightfully duetting with the soloist in the slow movement.

But it was perhaps after the break that things really livened up. We enjoyed a lush but polished rendering of Gershwin’s ‘American in Paris’, before Gerard came on again as soloist for Heath’s ‘The Celtic’. This time it was the orchestra’s strings that accompanied, demonstrating extraordinary partnering and musical skills, especially for the lyrical ‘Lament’.

At Steve Dummer’s skilful cue the entire auditorium clapped Gerard into playing an unscheduled but delightful Irish jig before the orchestra offered the afternoon’s finale – a performance of the Ravel’s melancholic ‘La Valse’. Once again we were transported by skilful musicianship to a dreamlike vision of a long-lost Vienna.

If only The Capitol could attend to detail as well as orchestra does. Once again auditorium lighting levels made it impossible to study the excellent programme notes. It’s a pity that poor venue management is allowed to spoil the audience’s enjoyment of such a superbly talented local orchestra.


HSO: A Jewel in the Crown 

by John Sherlock

Conductor: Steve Dummer
Soloists: Rachel Ellis and Pavlos Carvalho
Leader: Barry Sutton

The Capitol, Horsham
Saturday November 21st 2015
Brahms - Double Concerto
Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 6


Steve Dummer always has the ‘mot juste’. He introduced the second half of HSO’s concert by congratulating the soloists of the first half, then reminding us all about the Horsham Second Orchestra’s upcoming concert at St Mark’s Church (December 1st at 7.30), and then introducing Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony.


Known as the ‘Pathétique’, it is indeed a work full of pathos. It didn’t take long for listeners to realise this was going to be a moving and special performance. The opening was stunning, the five-four waltz was a complete delight, and the march-like third movement almost had us on our feet. The audience responded to the dying notes of the heart-rending final movement with a silence that spoke louder than the well-deserved applause that followed.


Brahms’ Double Concerto is a tougher nut to crack. While definitely one of my ‘desert island’ composers, I find myself seeking a balance of intellect, energy and lushness that wasn’t quite achieved this time. Perhaps I’m being too harsh? It didn’t help being plunged into darkness so that we couldn’t follow the superb programme notes. HSO certainly didn’t lack confidence or accuracy at the start, and the middle movement – one of Brahms’ grand tunes – was as good as you’ll hear anywhere. The dance-like final movement was a joy, and the soloists were fabulous.

We are amazingly privileged to have such a team of musicians on our doorstep. If there is hint of dissatisfaction in what I’ve written it is only because the bar is set so high. HSO is a jewel in Horsham’s crown of talent. Tchaikovsky 6 was quite extraordinary.


Horsham Symphony Orchestra concert: a resounding success 

by Bob Eagle

The Capitol, Horsham
13 June 2015
Conductor: Steve Dummer
Leader: Rachel Ellis
 
Weber - Overture Der Freischütz
Mendelssohn - Konsertstücke No 1 & 2 for clarinet, basset horn and orchestra
Brahms Symphony No 1 in C minor Op 68
 
Horsham Symphony Orchestra gave us another demonstration of why they must be one of the best local orchestras in the country. Ably conducted with animated energy by Steve Dummer, whose good humoured introductions always set the scene nicely, the orchestra began with Weber’s Overture from Der Freischütz. I think it might have been my earlier suggestion that the orchestra should begin its concert with a short piece such as an overture. It gives the orchestra and the audience a chance to warm up. This particular piece is no easy opening. The opera itself is considered the first important German Romantic opera. The opening Adagio created the sense of mystery, followed by the sound of the forces of evil  which gave way nicely to the Molto vivace. Further dramatic elements (which included well controlled horn ensemble and clarinet solo) made way for an energetic, exuberant and triumphant finale: the full opera in a nutshell.
 
For the second piece (Mendelssohn - Konzertstücke No 1 & 2 for clarinet, basset horn and orchestra ) we were in for a treat. Steve Dummer, apart from being a fine conductor, is also an acclaimed clarinettist. And he demonstrated his skills as he both took the clarinet solo lead as well as continuing to direct the orchestra. Andrew Meredith, also a member of the orchestra, brilliantly complemented Steve on the basset horn as both made light work of the virtuoso passages. As Steve Dummer put it: “I get all the tunes, he does all the hard work”.The performance was mesmerising. They were perfectly together.
And then, after the interval, the finale in the form of Brahms Symphony No 1 in C minor. These well known symphonies can become a little pedestrian with some orchestras. Not so here.  The symphony began in dramatic fashion with the low drumming and the moving figures of strings and wind instruments leading to a well played Allegro section with its many and varying demands on the orchestra. In the slow movement the orchestra played with a light but lyrical style with particular credit going to members of the woodwind section. The violin solo was beautifully executed by the orchestra’s leader, Rachel Ellis. In the third, scherzo-like movement, the orchestra appeared to manage with ease the complex rhythms in which the brass section was particularly effective. The  main theme of the fourth movement has something of the feel of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, albeit a distinct and stirring melody of which I am very fond, and the orchestra rose to the occasion magnificently at the grand finale.
All in all, a fine evening of music which was so evidently appreciated by the near capacity audience. Horsham has every reason to be proud of its very talented orchestra.


Horsham Symphony Orchestra achieves Copland’s ‘American sound’ in ambitious concert programme

by Louisa Jones

The Capitol, Horsham
21st March 2015
Conductor: Steve Dummer
Leader: Barry Sutton

Local amateur ensemble Horsham Symphony Orchestra took to the stage of The Capitol on Saturday 21 March with a challenging programme – for performer and listener alike – of Stravinsky, Grieg and Copland.

It was brave step to open with Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, described by conductor and musical director, Steve Dummer, as ‘one of the most original pieces in the history of music’. The players took a while to settle into this sparse patchwork of textures, but finally from the section principals’ deft musical dialogue grew a more rounded, but suitably understated, ending.

Grieg’s Holberg Suite for strings landed us back in more familiar territory, with a Nordic twist on the 18th-century dance suite. Violinist Rachel Ellis played and directed simultaneously from the podium, which, while baffling some audience members, allowed her to tease out some of the finer technical points of the piece. Particularly moving was the operatic ‘Air’, the emotional melody of the violins and cellos underscored sympathetically by the rest of the ensemble.

HSO’s full forces joined together again in the concert’s second half for what was the undoubted highlight of the evening, Copland’s rarely performed Symphony No 3. It is often claimed that American orchestras struggle to replicate the uniquely English, pastoral quality of the music of Elgar. The same could not be said in reverse for this ensemble, who – from the cut-glass clarity of the opening bars, through shimmering string textures, towards the forthright ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ – admirably captured the wide open spaces of Copland’s own ‘American sound’.

Dummer’s down-to-earth stage presence and short, amiable commentaries to the pieces gave the whole concert a welcoming vibe, enjoyed by a large audience of all ages. With limited opportunities to hear high-quality orchestral music in the county, it’s heartening to see an ambitious amateur group like HSO filling the gap.


Wonderful music and quite remarkable performances!

by Patrick Harrex

The Capitol, Horsham
22nd November 2014
Conductor: Steve Dummer
Leader: Rachel Ellis

The moment the conductor leapt on to the rostrum and the Horsham Symphony Orchestra launched into Offenbach's overture to Orpheus in the Underworld we knew we were in for a treat at the Capitol last Saturday. It was an exciting and energetic opening, introducing us to the rich orchestral sound and some glorious individual playing from the orchestra's principals.

But even that did not prepare us for the revelation of the evening. Steve Dummer is well known as an advocate and ambassador for contemporary music. On this occasion he was bold enough to include Lutoslawski's Mi-parti, completed in 1976, a work that is demanding of any orchestra, and this one clearly relished the challenge. His introduction to the work was helpful and entertaining - at times perhaps unnecessarily deprecating, leaving the audience wondering what they were to be subjected to. But they need not have worried! From the start, the rich string sonorities that belied the dissonance, on paper, of the orchestral writing, made it clear we were in for a very special experience. Throughout this 15 minute piece the colourful textures created by the composer were perfectly realised, both in the tutti passages and more lightly scored moments – one of the most memorable being a trio of mellifluous flutes accompanied by gentle strings. Amazingly beautiful sounds were contrasted with thrilling and sometimes raucous passages when the full might of the brass section was unleashed. The ending – high, shimmering strings alongside harp and softly beating timpani - was quite magical and drew rapturous applause from the audience.

After the interval we were treated to a performance of Rachmaninov's second symphony that revealed all its drama and emotion. At about an hour long it was another testing piece for the orchestra. There were one or two moments when its sheer physical, let alone emotional, demands began to tell, reminding us that this was an amateur orchestra we were listening to, but the audience was gripped and spellbound by the intensity of the playing. Once again, Steve Dummer's enthusiastic and very physical direction and moulding of the orchestral sound brought out the best in the players and gave us an evening to remember. Wonderful music and quite remarkable performances!


Elgar would have loved it!

by Jane Thomas

The Capitol, Horsham
28th June 2014
Violin: Rachel Ellis
Conductor: Steve Dummer
Leader: Barry Sutton

Ten years ago, the HSO successfully paired Sibelius’s heroic fifth symphony with Tchaikowsky’s great violin concerto. Last night’s coupling of Sibelius’s third symphony with another mighty violin concerto - that of Elgar - was equally felicitous. Interestingly, although both works were premiered within three years of each other, the contrast couldn’t be starker. Can any other composer but Sibelius make a major key sound so melancholy, with his smouldering brass and cross-rhythmic undercurrents? And can anyone but Elgar make a minor key sound so gloriously optimistic, with the HSO - led by Barry Sutton and conducted by Steve Dummer in terrific form - playing their socks off?

If the Sibelius was all about carefully-crafted, complex neo-classicism, the Elgar was all elegiac passion. In his own words: “It’s too emotional, but I love it!” Well, he would certainly have loved last night’s solo performance from the HSO’s co-leader, Rachel Ellis. Giving the performance of a life-time, Rachel radiated total musical absorption, supporting emotional intensity with stunning virtuosity and shamelessly romantic lyricism. She wrung an immense tone from her instrument, able to soar clearly over the orchestra but also communicating intimately with individual players.


Elgar would have loved it!


A team to be proud of

by John Sherlock

The Capitol, Horsham
30th March 2014
Cello Soloist (Tchaikovsky and Dvořák): Laura van der Heijden
Conductor: Steve Dummer
Leader: Rachel Ellis

Programme:
    Brahms: Hungarian Dances 1, 3 and 10
    Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo theme Op. 33
    Sibelius: Valse Triste, Op. 44 No. 1
    Dvořák: Rondo for Cello and Orchestra Op. 94
    Bizet: Jeux d'enfants Op. 22

On Sunday afternoon, at The Capitol, I found myself sitting next to an 11 year old cellist. Her reaction to Laura van der Heijden's playing was "she's good". The understatement of the year? Laura is the complete performer - from the moment she strides into the platform you know you are about to enjoy a stunning performance. She gave us Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations - in which she made the cello 'sing' - and Dvořák's Rondo - displaying virtuosity as well as lyricism.

For these items the Horsham Symphony Orchestra was reduced to the role of accompanist - which requires great accuracy and watchfulness. The orchestra was competent but not faultless. However, the orchestral pizzicato re-entry after the cadenza in the Tchaikovsky was as good as you'll ever get!

For the rest of the programme, we enjoyed Brahms, Sibelius and Bizet. Steve Dummer's light and humorous introductions to each piece are perfect in tone - and the energy of the orchestra (particularly in the opening Brahms dance and the closing Bizet 'Galop') was palpable. The Sibelius Valse Triste was once again dedicated to the memory of Horsham musician Laura Skuce, who died last year.

Well done this time to the technical people at The Capitol for not plunging the audience into total darkness for the performance. It meant we could just make out the excellent programme notes!

Smiling faces - including many youngsters - were an indication of the delight HSO brings to the community. The orchestra has all the skills it needs to diagnose and solve the little technical problems of balance and co-ordination. Such faults are more than made up for by the spirit and enthusiasm of the players under Steve Dummer's charismatic baton and Rachel Ellis's energetic leadership. All in all, a team to be very proud of!


Energy and Confidence

by John Sherlock

The Capitol, Horsham
1st March 2014
Piano Soloist (Beethoven): Warren Mailley-Smith
Conductor: Steve Dummer
Leader: Barry Sutton

What an inspiring band the HSO has become! From the crashing opening chord of the Beethoven the audience sensed energy and confidence. Warren Mailley-Smith gave a superb rendering of this perhaps the most famous of the Beethoven concertos, with its sublime slow movement. The handovers from soloist to orchestra were handled masterfully.

After the interval, an extra item was slipped in – Sibelius’ Valse Triste which was offered in memory of Laura Skuce who died last year. Steve Dummer introduced the piece as being ‘full of spirit, like Laura’ and the orchestra played it beautifully – so much so that there was a poignant silence at its close before the well-deserved applause cut in.

And then, as a splendid finale to the concert, we heard Shostakovich’s ninth. According to the programme note, the composer himself said of this piece ‘Musicians will like to play it, and critics will delight in blasting it’. Perhaps it is only now, decades after it was written, that we can begin to pick up the irony that Shostakovich built into this wonderful symphony. It’s a hard piece for any orchestra, but the HSO performed it with polish and professionalism. The strings had much of the hard work, and the wind solos were astonishingly well executed – with special mention being deserved by the piccolo and bassoon players! Once again, Steve Dummer’s well-chosen introductory words gave us the context we needed, with excellent programme notes to help with the detail.

There were very few empty seats. With this quality of live music on our doorstep, there is really no excuse for a single one! I can’t wait for the HSO’s next concert on 30th March, which will feature BBC Young Musician Laura van der Heijden.


A feast of sound!

by John Sherlock

The Capitol, Horsham
23rd November 2013
Soloists: Philippa Dearsley, Melanie Sanders, Mark Bradbury, Ed Hawkins
Conductor: Andrew Cleary, Steve Dummer

Last Saturday’s concert, combining the forces of the Horsham Symphony Orchestra and the Christ’s Hospital Choral Society, was memorable. By the end of the evening, with hundreds of smiling faces coming out of the auditorium, it was clear that the performers – orchestra, chorus, soloists and conductors – had lifted many spirits. But what a contrast this was to the opening of the concert! The beginning of the Brahms Academic overture needs to be strictly disciplined and very rhythmic – it was neither. It wasn’t until the full orchestra was involved – some two minutes into the piece – that confidence was regained.

There was a much more confident start to the second Brahms piece – the Song of Destiny. Another quiet opening, but this time beautifully executed by the orchestra, with all the lushness of sound that Brahms intended. When the choir entered they quickly dispelled any fear that the balance of chorus and orchestra might be out of kilter. From where I was sitting, the sound was perfect. The tempo changes were handled in a masterly fashion.

In previous concerts, the HSO have set amazingly high standards, so my comments on the opening piece may seem a little harsh. But when Beethoven’s mighty Choral Symphony began we know we were good hands. It was an electrifying performance, from the opening notes to the grand climax. If audience confidence in the orchestra’s ability had ever been briefly misplaced, the second movement restored it. The HSO had us all on the edge of our seats. And the slow third movement made me notice how the clarinets have a such a pivotal role in this ‘greatest of all slow movements’.

And so to the finale of the Beethoven – what a feast of sound! The sheer energy of choir, orchestra, soloists and conductor was palpable, and as each section of this great movement reached its climax our spirits were lifted higher and higher. Andrew Cleary had prepared the magnificent choir superbly, and Steve Dummer similarly had worked hard with HSO, who played with astonishing commitment and energy under the leadership of Rachel Ellis – a truly professional sound! The soloists, Philippa Dearsley, Melanie Sanders, Mark Bradbury and Ed Hawkins sang out their verses of Schiller’s great Ode to Joy convincingly and communicatively. All in all, a great team collaboration, a fabulous concert and a Horsham evening to remember.


A stunning concert from the HSO

by Jane Thomas

The Capitol, Horsham
29th June 2013
Piano: Margaret Lynn
Conductor: Steve Dummer

Stravinski's The Firebird was the sensation of the Russian Ballet season at the Paris Opera in 1910; and the five-movement suite he later re-worked into an orchestral tour-de-force proved equally sensational on Saturday night as the culmination of a stunning concert from the HSO under its charismatic conductor, Steve Dummer.

The evening began magically with Grace Meinertzhagen's haunting flute solo heralding a highly evocative performance of Debussy's Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune.

And, on a lovely summer's evening, what could be nicer than to revel in the shifting, hazy timbres of Debussy's "strange world of waking dreams", with beautifully-judged phrases from solo wind and horn, against a shimmering background of strings and harp glissandos.

Well, how about following it with another sultry opening, exchanging French Impressionism for a truly Spanish combination of melancholy and fervour in Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Garden of Spain? Here the soloist was Margaret Lynn, who gave us in turn lyricism, rhythmic playfulness and virtuosic brilliance, as the work demands.

After the interval Steve Dummer demonstrated just why the HSO now play to capacity audiences. His relaxed, informal introductions wer followed by totally focused, engrossing performances of two more 20th century orchestral suites: first the delightfully quirky Mother Goose by Ravel, and then the ferociously demanding Firebird. Eerie, enchanting, explosive, and an extraordinarily effective final crescendo. In short, sensational!


A Marvelous Mahler

by Bob Eagle

The Capitol, Horsham
16th March 2013
Flute: Henry Roberts
Conductor: Steve Dummer

Horsham Symphony Orchestra (leader: Rachel Ellis) rose to new heights with a most ambitious programme at the Capitol on Saturday 16 March.

The first half consisted of Mozart’s Flute Concerto in G: a bright and sprightly piece with the excellent local flute soloist Henry Roberts. The first movement, taken at a thrilling pace, showed Henry’s formidable skills from the outset. With sympathetic yet driving accompaniment it fairly skipped along. The second, slow movement, revealed more of Henry’s talent in sustained, nicely controlled, flowing passages, especially in the cadenza. The interweaving of the flute and orchestra was particularly pleasing. The final movement, a beautifully crafted Rondo, minuet style, once again allowed Henry to demonstrate some superb dexterity. The orchestra was both supportive and balanced throughout.

The second half of the concert was given over to Gustav Mahler’s fifth symphony. Written for a large orchestra, it has a running time of about 75 minutes and is an exceptionally demanding piece for any orchestra. It is not for the faint-hearted! 

Steve Dummer opened with his usual easy-going conversation with the capacity audience, explaining the choice of the programme and emphasising its challenging nature.

Steve paced the whole piece with skill and flair. The funereal opening gave way to the vehement stormy second movement which the orchestra played with all the drama inherent in the piece. The long, varied and technically demanding Scherzo third moment was lively, taken at a good pace and enabled each section of the orchestra to shine, demonstrating some fine musicianship. The fourth movement consists of probably the best known part of the work - it often features as a stand-alone performance. Dare I say, it has something of a classic romantic film score about it (indeed it has been used for that purpose). But it was played with sensitivity and style. A calming interlude. The finale is a Rondo requiring seriously competent playing leading to the splendid and thrilling climax. All parts of the orchestra excelled but special mention must go to the brass section who, except for two horns were not needed for the Mozart, but given plenty to do in the Mahler, rose to the occasion splendidly.

Horsham and its surrounding district is indeed fortunate to have such a fine collection of talented and gifted players of a full range of orchestral instruments. Under the inspired direction of Steve Dummer they perform with confidence and panache. He has clearly gelled them into a fine orchestra which sets itself very high standards and takes on new challenges to the evident pleasure of its audience.


HSO Concert: A delight

by Bob Eagle

The Capitol, Horsham
17 November 2012
Trombone: Ryan Hume
Conductor: Steve Dummer

Horsham Symphony Orchestra excelled again and delighted a capacity audience with a rich, varied and technically demanding programme at their concert at the Capitol on Saturday 17 November.

Horsham is indeed fortunate to have such a talented group of musicians under the gifted and inspired leadership of their conductor, Steve Dummer. Steve has a refreshing approach; setting aside pomp and ceremony to chat to the audience about the items in the programme to come.

We started with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes. Drawn from the opera Peter Grimes, the interludes demonstrated the dexterity of the orchestra from the opening peaceful calm of “Dawn” through to the thrilling discordant energy of “Storm”.

Next up was Jacob’s Trombone Concerto. Such concertos are rare - I can’t actually recall having seen this performed before. Indeed it is said that this was written in 1955 for the country's leading trombonist, Denis Wick, who had looked in vain for a modern trombone concerto that would show off his full virtuosity. This was a triumphant and accomplished performance by the talented soloist, Ryan Hume, originally from West Sussex. In his hands the trombone came alive. The third movement, in particular, showed the soloist’s virtuoso skills together with a full blooded orchestral accompaniment. 

Finally we were treated to Elgar’s first symphony. A fitting choice after a year of British sporting success: Elgar always brings out the best of British-ness. The orchestra captured the fine nobility of the piece. The opening stirring melody set the scene for what followed. A vivacious second movement, full of dynamism, was followed by the beautiful tranquility of the third movement. It was in these two movements that the orchestra displayed the full range of their skills. The fourth movement is in a classic Elgar March style and is often described as a having a triumphant and confident ending. That also sums up the HSO’s performance. 

All in all, a great evening of rich and diverse music, demonstrating the range of talent of this fine orchestra of which Horsham has every reason to be proud.

40th anniversary concert - A Triumph

by Bob Eagle

The Capitol, Horsham
23 June 2012
Violin: Jenny King
Conductor: Steve Dummer

Horsham Symphony Orchestra's 40th anniversary concert on 23rd June at the Capitol demonstrated the fine versatility and impressive talent of an Orchestra of which the town has every reason to be proud. 

Technically, the music was played with artistry and flair. The great conductor Celibidace said to his conducting students: “As you are, so shall the music be”. Steve Dummer, the conductor, caused the orchestra to deliver a marvellous performance in a delightful and varied programme.

But music is not about technicality: it is about how it impacts on the listener. The capacity audience at the Capitol was clearly elated with what they heard. 
The concert opened with Frank Bridge’s Symphonic Summer Poem. This is a tone poem, not concerned with form, but is rather about inspiration, played with a combination of sprightly and dramatic styles evocative of the delights of summer.

This was followed by Glazunov’s Violin Concerto in A minor Op. 82. Wow! Horsham’s own Jenny King, the brilliant soloist, turned in a virtuoso performance with panache and confidence bringing out the beautifully lyrical themes. This piece requires considerable double-stopping technique; Jenny handled it with skill and dexterity. The orchestra provided an accompaniment which was both sympathetic and rich in texture. And Steve achieved exactly the right balance between soloist and orchestra.

The concert ended with Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 2 (A London Symphony). Sir Georg Solti once said that an orchestra sometimes plays too loud, too fast, too slow, but never too soft. He would have appreciated in particular the parts of the second movement played with ethereal softness and even more so the end of the third movement with its spine-tingling “pppp”. The whole piece, and particularly the thrilling finale, was evocative of London - a fitting choice given London’s prominence in current events.

The audience gave the performers a well-deserved and ecstatic response at the end. All in all, a highly accomplished performance; an inspiring and uplifting evening.


Enterprise, bravery and more than a little passion


The Capitol, Horsham
24 March 2012
Soloist: Heather Cairncross
Conductor: Steve Dummer

Enterprise, bravery and more than a little passion were the driving forces behind the Horsham Symphony Orchestra in their latest concert.

The centrepiece was Shostakovich’s Symphony No.5- part of the core repertoire these days- but nonetheless an awesome challenge for any orchestra. Shostakovich’s delicate scoring exposes the difficult parts written for each performer.

The amateur players of the HSO rose to this challenge with quite some chutzpah. Their chef d’orchestre, Steve Dummer, supported them all the way by ensuring that every single musical ingredient could be identified in his gestures, and the resulting feast was served up with generous garnish to boot. 

However, culinary metaphors can’t stretch far enough to describe the full impact of the symphony. This was a first-rate interpretation, with tempi carefully calculated to shattering effect (I am sure I have never heard the ending as slow and as fierce). For many observers the horror of Stalin’s purges underpin each bar of the music, and since the performance was dedicated to a relation of an orchestral member that attended the Leningrad première, this horror seems not too distant from our own time. This contributed in no small way to the emotional nature of the account.

Before the interval we were treated to two less familiar works, Beethoven’s Leonora Overture No.1 (which was never actually used in the composer’s troubled opera) and Mahler’s Rücket Lieder with soloist Heather Cairncross. Miss Cairncross projected even the most delicate moments to the back of the room and demonstrated her ability to traverse an impressive range of musical styles (local audiences may be familiar with her performances of jazz and contemporary music).

If not every orchestral entry was entirely secure in these tricky works, then the enterprising nature of the programme more than compensated for this. Aidan Gardner’s witty and informative notes ably assisted the capacity audience’s enthused response. This time the HSO got personal, and even the off-putting flickering lights of the Capitol Theatre couldn’t extinguish their fire.

Dr Adam Swayne
Senior Lecturer and UCMA Coordinator
University of Chichester


One of Britain's finest

The Capitol, Horsham
19th November 2011
Horns Anthony Halstead and Philip Thompson
Violin Rachel Ellis
Conductor Steve Dummer

In their latest performance the Horsham Symphony Orchestra demonstrated why they are becoming known as one of Britain’s finest amateur orchestras.

Conductor Steve Dummer provided expert attention to detail alongside a sense of comradery with members of the ensemble that enabled each player to shine.

First on the programme was Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Haydn in which the composer delves inside a simple melody and discovers remarkable musical treasures. The HSO navigated the complexities of Brahms’ score with elegance and humour, sparkling especially in the exuberant finale.

Hornists Anthony Halstead and Philip Thompson provided a highly spirited performance of Haydn’s Double Horn Concerto that brought to life the rustic hunting calls and folk-style melodies on top of a bouncy and sensitive accompaniment by the orchestra.

The second half was given over to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Persian sound-picture Scheherazade in a performance movingly dedicated to an ex-orchestra member celebrating a fairytale romance of her own. Leader of the orchestra Rachel Ellis despatched the violin cadenzas with panache and finesse, inspiring the entire string section in a watery richness that ideally caught the nautical air. The wind and brass section brought some beguiling musical spices to the voyage, while the harpist and percussionists injected the festive scenes with a few shots of rum.

The capacity audience was clearly enraptured, and cheered each time the conductor brought a soloist to their feet.

Now that the HSO has created a training orchestra (amusingly named H2O!) and is also preparing their first tour next summer, their enterprise and enthusiasm is clearly permeating the Horsham community and beyond. Surely we can expect at least a thousand-and-one more nights like this?
 
Dr Adam Swayne
Senior Lecturer in Music
University of Chichester


Triumphant Evening

by Jane Thomas

The Capitol, Horsham
18th June 2011
Piano Alison Farrant
Conductor Steve Dummer

There was a lovely moment at the beginning of the second half of the HSO concert when Steve Dummer asked the rhetorical question: “Why does anyone need to travel to London to a concert when they could come to Horsham’s Capitol Theatre and hear our wonderful orchestra and superb soloist? Well no, they couldn’t – because we’re sold out!” It was a moment of tongue-in-cheek triumphalism, and totally justified by the terrific performance of Tchaikovsky’s second symphony which was to follow, not to mention one of the most memorable renditions of Chopin’s first piano concerto that I have been privileged to hear.

Alison Farrant is no stranger to the HSO, having played Rachmaninov with them three years ago. Her enviable local reputation as both player and teacher ensures a packed house, with many youngsters thoroughly enjoying a full symphonic programme for the first  – and hopefully not for the last  - time. Confident in a superb technique, Alison performed the Chopin with a perfect combination of brilliance and lyricism, wringing every ounce of beauty from Chopin’s expansively cantabile themes one minute, and frisking around the keys with sparkling dexterity the next. Accompanied most sympathetically by the HSO, led by Alison’s husband Barry Sutton  -  what a combination of musical talents! -  the concerto romped to its joyous conclusion, to an ecstatic audience reception.

After the interval, Steve Dummer showed exactly why the HSO concerts are so well attended. Using his charismatic “ring-master” persona, he demonstrated the folk-themes on which much of the Tchaikovsky symphony is based by getting the HSO to sing them – in Russian, no less! Then, with the audience already in the palm of his hand, we were treated to a beautifully-controlled, haunting horn solo – Richard Gamlen at his best – leading into what proved to be a thoroughly engrossing performance. The HSO played with total commitment, the strings providing a rich, warm palette punctuated by tight, crisp brass and colourful woodwind. Timpani and percussion were spot-on, as they had been in the Rossini overture which preceded the concerto; and after the triumphant conclusion of the fourth movement one was left wondering quite why this delightful symphony is not performed more often. It certainly proved a winner with this audience!


Heroics in Horsham

by Paul Holland

The Capitol, Horsham
20 November 2010
Violin Rachel Ellis
Conductor Steve Dummer

What a fine orchestra we have, resident here in Horsham! Once again a very willing public trekked out on a cold November evening to be treated to a feast for the ears: A brace of classic favourites paired with the less-known Galánta Dances by Kodály; superb team-playing within the vast architecture of Beethoven’s epic Third Symphony, alongside a virtuosic solo-performance in Mendelssohn’s sublime Violin Concerto.

A concert often opens with a lightweight, even fluffy, overture, not merely to whet the audience’s appetite, but also to warm up a nervous orchestra… None of this for the Horsham Symphony Orchestra, who opened with the magnificent
Galánta Dances, fully symphonic in both scope and orchestration. This brilliant, sparkling set of contrasting variations on pre-war Magyar themes sweeps us breathlessly through a series of landscapes, and that an orchestra in the middle of Sussex can convey a complex, Hungarian voice so assuredly is to be admired.

Rachel Ellis, herself a regular player with the orchestra, played the role of soloist thrillingly in the
next piece. She brought a personal and confident flair to her performance
of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, in which she was able to bring her prodigious talent to bear on all the vibrant, witty variety of his early Romanticism. This truly is a mature work by an artist at the height of his powers, and although all-too familiar to modern audiences, the soloist held our attention to the very end with the lightning control and heartfelt power of her playing. Behind her, the orchestra, carefully steered by Leader Barry Sutton, provided the subtle and steady support which HSO can so admirably provide when playing concerti
.

Under the indomitable and ever-energetic baton of Steve Dummer, the HSO has tackled plenty of great symphonies over the years; so it was a fitting end to this concert that they should take on Beethoven’s
Eroica. How different this is, despite its familiarity, from the Mendelssohn; here is a composer who has only just found his true voice, an artist still struggling to forge something from the moulds he is himself smashing. The orchestra easily captured the majestic sweep of this vast, new music, especially in the shock and violence of the opening movement and in the despair of the funeral march. Once again, the HSO has reminded us how fortunate the town is to have dedicated players and performers putting on such memorable cultural events three times each year.



Charm Personified

by Jane Thomas

The Capitol, Horsham
19 June 2010
Violin Sara Stagg
Conductor Steve Dummer

There was an essentially "local" feel to the HSO concert last Saturday, the Capitol Theatre being packed with supporters for their own town orchestra, a local soloist, and the world premiere of a commissioned work by a Sussex-based composer. Added to that, the Brahms symphony which constituted the second half of the programme was dedicated to the memory of long-time HSO player and supporter John Harry, who died two months ago. His widow Audrey, also associated with the HSO for very many years, must have been immensely moved by the performance of the symphony, the orchestra obviously playing their hearts out in tribute to their dear friend John.

But back to the beginning! It is often difficult to "sell" a contemporary work to its first audience, but conductor Steve Dummer managed it excellently, with a brief introduction which left us in no doubt as to the treat in store for us. Julian Broughton's Symphony in E is composed in the traditional four movement structure, but there tradition ends and his own original voice beings. He writes on a big scale with enormous attention to detail, and the wind parts especially provided brilliant shafts of colour to the script - and a real challenge to the HSO wind section, which rose as always to the occasion. The second movement, starting with shimmering strings reminiscent of Saint-Saens' "Aviary", was quite delightful, and the last passacaglia showed Broughton's skills both as a contrapuntist and an orchestrator.

After such an intense listening experience, the Mozart 4th violin concerto proved perfect programming, with its light orchestration and irrepressible charm bringing the audience back to familiar territory. Here the soloist was local musician Sara Stagg, who played with sparkling dexterity and stylistically elegant approach throughout. The second movement showed a lovely breadth of line and real communication with the orchestra, and the final rondo - with its wittily contrasting dance episodes - was charm personified.

It is easy the think of conductor Steve Dummer as a charismatic, ebullient frontsman for the HSO; but in fact this belies a steely grasp of even the most tortuous of scores and an extraordinary ability to focus the orchestra. The HSO last performed Brahms 2nd symphony in 1997, and I wrote then that they played it with conviction and panache. This time they again played with conviction and panache but with an added passion, making an unbeatable combination well deserving of the tumultuous applause at the end of yet another superb concert.


Locally composed

by Paul Holland

The Capitol, Horsham
28 March 2010
Clarinet Andrew Meredith
Conductor Steve Dummer

After the wild and majestic heights attained in their previous concert with Beethoven and Shostakovich, this latest outing for the Horsham Symphony Orchestra aimed to offer the audience a much lighter programmer, brining together a number of much-loved, popular classics with the gentler tones of mid-twentieth-century English ensemble-writing. Despite being a Sunday performance, there was still a fantastic turn-out in the audience.

As ever, with each new concert under its exuberant conductor, the excellent Steve Dummer, the orchestra's playing is tighter and more precise than ever. The opening curtain-raiser, Mussorgsky's A Night On The Bare Mountain, simmered with almost shocking clarity, with even the densest moments of scurrying, bristling anarchy being cut off by sharp and absolute silences.

With Andrew Meredith's solo performance on Finzi's Clarinet Concerto we saw once again what accomplished talent we have right here in Horsham. This is a relatively unknown piece, the soloist supported by strings alone, resulting in a typically English sound, by turns wistful, energetic, pastoral and rustic.

The concert's second half began with two pieces by local Collyer's pupil, Ryan Hume, whos two pieces, The Night Before the Battle and Movement from a Trombone Concerto went down very well indeed with the audience. Ryan himself played magnificently in his own concerto, and both pieces suggest he has plenty more to offer us in the future. The grand finale took us back to the great Russian composers, this time Rimsky-Korsakov, but now via Spain. The Capriccio Espagnol, with leader Barry Sutton enjoying his moments of virtuoso flourishes, brought this whole springtime concert to a rousing conclusion, and shows us again how lucky we are to have such a talented and committed orchestra in our midst!


Town should be proud of having such a fantastic Orchestra!

by Jane Thomas

The Capitol, Horsham
21 November 2009
Violinist Madeleine Easton
Conductor Steve Dummer

Four years ago I was writing a paean of praise to the musicians of Horsham for transforming several bleak November evenings into memorable, sell-out performances. Then it was Jesus Christ Superstar from HAODS and a wonderfully colourful programme – Sibelius, Rodrigo and Elgar - from the HSO.

This November we have had a superb run of Fiddler on the Roof from HAODS, followed by a stunning evening of Beethoven and Shostakovich from the HSO under their charismatic conductor, Steve Dummer.

And again, the Capitol was sold out! What an amazing achievement and how incredibly lucky we are in Horsham to have such wonderful and dedicated groups of musicians.

The programme began with Beethoven’s sublime violin concerto, played with beautiful line and lyrical charm by Madeleine Easton, who is – amongst other things – concertmaster of the renowned Hanover Band. Her understanding of the work was apparent from the start: not for her the “me versus them” attitude of some violin virtuosi, but a dialogue throughout, with a particularly lovely second movement leading to a splendidly exuberant Rondo. Steve Dummer accompanied throughout with a relaxed but watchful baton, never losing contact with his soloist.

Then came the Shostakovich! Many years ago, Charles Hazelwood – who succeeded Malcolm McKelvey as conductor of the HSO - assured reviewer Peter Buchan that he could see the orchestra improving enough to tackle Sibelius. Well they have tackled Sibelius several times since then, but Shostakovich? His massive tenth symphony? I only wish Charles Hazelwood could have been there to enjoy their triumph.

Although possibly “enjoy” is not the right word when faced with such a dark, difficult and desolate work, as Steve Dummer put it so eloquently as he talked us through the political setting and the programmatic content. It was certainly enthralling, and the players did a magnificent job of propelling us through the bleak wasteland of repression, the sudden glimpses of frenetic gaiety, the despair, the brutality and ultimately hope for a better future.

The amazingly co-ordinated fury of the second movement, the “circus crossed with a firing squad” burlesque in the third, some most effective horn and woodwind solos plus terrific strings, brass and percussion – well, all I can say is that Horsham should justly be extremely proud of its symphony orchestra!



A triumph for all concerned

by David Briffett

The Capitol, Horsham
14 March 2009
Soprano Gillian Ramm
Conductor Steve Dummer

In my last review I had suggested that audiences might appreciate some rapport with HSO conductor Stephen Dummer. He took up the idea with a vengeance on Saturday giving us a virtual masterclass on Mozart and Mahler and the workings of the violin, ancient and modern, whilst even the classy soloist, Australian born soprano Gillian Ramm, was persuaded to introduce her own pieces. We learned too how the orchestra is receiving coaching from the world renowned Hanover Band.

Their words added greatly to an evening which surely goes down as one of the most inspiring that Horsham Symphony Orchestra have yet produced.

It began with a very confident performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni overture, evoking all the drama of that great opera, swiftly followed by an aria from the same opera performed by the glamorous and highly competent Miss Ramm.

This was followed by two more beautifully sung Mozart arias, a rarely heard love song from Zaide and a more striking piece from Cosi fan tutte in which Miss Ramm was at her most expressive.

It is difficult to imagine anything able to eclipse Mozart. However, Mahler's Symphony No.4 in G, which took up the second half, did just that. The conductor talked of Mahler being "long, dull and depressing" but HSO's terrific performance of this intricate and difficult piece proved to be a most uplifting experience.

Drawn from a collection of poems about peasantry, love, the military and faith, this hour long adventure is full of enchanting and mystical sounds. The kaleidoscopic first movement was at times electrifying and for me the highlight of the evening. The delightful second movement was charmingly melodic whilst the long third movement was simply spellbinding.

The final movement depicted a child's version of heaven with Gilliam Ramm joining the orchestra for a gentle song that evolved into a peaceful and exquisite finish.

The Mahler was first performed in 1901 and was being heard at The Capitol for the very first time, a real treat for all who were privileged to be there. A triumph for all concerned.


What a splendid evening this was

by David Briffett

The Capitol, Horsham
22 November 2008
Cellist Oliver Coates
Conductor Steve Dummer

What a splendid evening this was: a fascinating contemporary piece, the warming sounds of a familiar Schubert theme, crowned by a finale in the hands of a highly talented young master of the cello.

The Horsham Symphony Orchestra continues to give opportunity to the rich reserves of musical talent in our area, both young and not so, and under the baton of the dynamic Steve Dummer continue to take on great challenges and, above all, to entertain.

The programme began with the intriguing Paean composed by Sussex born Peter Copley and first performed in 1993, a piece designed to represent 'remorseless optimism'. It opens with very appealing pulsating rhythms followed by a more delicate episode in which woodwind and horns tackle some challenging work before returning to the original theme. The composer was there in person and took a well earned bow.

The orchestra was immediately comfortable with the familiar theme of Franz Schubert's Symphony No 8 in B Minor, the famous Unfinished Symphony, one of 1,000 works composed before his untimely death at 31.
Their handling of the first movement was very competent whilst the second was beautifully balanced, full of atmosphere, delicate passages interspersed by bursts of intensity.

The star of the night was unquestionably 26-year-old Oliver Coates, a high flying graduate of the Royal College of Music, a cellist in much demand. He missed part of the rehearsal because of a delayed train, however that did not detract one second from his consummate performance of Antonin Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor. A man at one with the instrument, Oliver showed that he is not just technically brilliant but has real feeling for the music. The orchestra was in fine form for all three movements of this inspirational work whilst Oliver touched great heights in his rendering of the adagio, especially the exquisite final section.

Our town is very fortunate to have the very accomplished Horsham Symphony Orchestra and the dedicated team behind it. Just one minor criticism: I think that audiences would appreciate some personal comments from the conductor either at the start or finish.

The programme notes are excellent, however a little more insight from the man in charge could work wonders.
The next programme in March promises some inspiring Mozart and Mahler.