Latest News

  • Wind Playing Day January 2024 (The Wantage Orchestra, WO Wind Playing Day group)
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 8 Feb 2024
    On 27 January 2024 wind members from the Orchestra met for a Wind Playing Day, under the coaching of Paul Harris.
  • Public Concert Sunday 2 July 2023
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 2 Jun 2023
    Public Concert Sunday 2 July 2023
    On Sunday 2 July 2023, James Longstaffe was our guest conductor, when we performed this programme:

    Mendelssohn Hebrides Overture
    Walton Cello Concerto
    Schumann Symphony no 3

    We were delighted that Chris Terepin played the Cello Concerto with us.  Chris has had a long standing association with the orchestra, and last performed with us in 2017, then the Finzi Cello concerto.

    The concert was at Old Mill Hall, Grove.
  • Public Concert 12 March 2023
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 12 Mar 2023
    Public Concert 12 March 2023
    Wantage Orchestra are thrilled to accompany the Oxfordshire soloist Julia Hollander (mezzo soprano) for a performance of Elgar’s Sea Pictures; a work based on poems by five different authors. It is the only song cycle Elgar wrote for voice and orchestra.

    The concert starts with The Wreckers Overture by Dame Ethel Smyth; born in 1858 she rose to become one of the most prominent composers of the time.
    Besides being a prolific composer Ethel was a well-known suffragette, author, friend and possibly lover to some of the most famous figures of the early 20th century. Smyth was arrested alongside Pankhurst for militant suffragism, and when Beecham went to visit her in Holloway prison, he found the composer conducting from her window with a toothbrush.
    The Wreckers is an invented tale of an inward-looking Cornish coastal community that survives by luring ships to their doom, Smyth shows a keen instinct for musical drama, while her score – written in the traditions of Brahms and Wagner, but with a definite personality of her own – exudes energy and momentum.
    Dvo?ák was born the son of a butcher-innkeeper in the rural countryside north of Prague. His father wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but Dvo?ák wanted to play alongside the village musicians at dances and celebrations. With the odds stacked against him he became one of Europe’s most celebrated musicians.
    For one performance of the Sixth Symphony, the 27-year-old Edward Elgar was playing in the first violins. He wrote to a friend “I wish you could hear Dvo?ák‘s music. It is simply ravishing, so tuneful and clever, and the orchestration is wonderful. I simply cannot describe it; it must be heard.”
    The Wantage Orchestra are under the young guest conductor Kentaro Machida, a Japanese conductor and organist. A recent first-class graduate of the University of Oxford, Kentaro was senior organ scholar at Merton College, Oxford, accompanying the college’s renowned mixed-voice choir in their BBC broadcasts, CD recordings, and UK and international tours. He was previously the principal conductor of Oxford University Sinfonietta.
  • Public Concerts 3-4 December 2022
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 3 Dec 2022
    Public Concerts 3-4 December 2022

    Behold, the sea itself!

    Vaughan Williams wrote A Sea Symphony, a piece extolling the virtues of the sea, with text by Walt Whitman.
    It is a major piece for choir and orchestra, and we are delighted to be performing with two choirs – the East Oxford Community Choir and Headington Singers.  In total, around 80 singers will sing!  Our guest conductor will be James Longstaffe.

    2022 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the amazing English composer, Vaughan Williams. We are excited to tell you of these special concerts that the orchestra is performing in December.
  • Public Concert 9 July 2022
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 9 Jul 2022
    Public Concert 9 July 2022
    Our Summer concert features a ballet music suite by a woman composer, a trumpet concerto, and a well-loved symphony.
    Cécile Chaminade            Callirhoë Suite
    Haydn                                Trumpet Concerto
    Borodin                             Symphony no 2

    Chaminade Callirhoë Suite

    Cécile Chaminade began composing at the age of 8, and when 18 embarked on a successful career as a pianist, giving frequent recitals often including her own compositions. She composed for the opera-comique and the ballet.  Today’s suite is taken from her large-scale ballet symphonique, first performed in Marseilles in 1888.

    Haydn Trumpet Concerto
    Our soloist Philip Singleton has had a long and successful career as a classical and jazz trumpet player, and is now also a composer and conductor. Philip is playing Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto with us.
    Haydn's musical life began when sent away to boarding school at 6 years old. He left at 16 and began a career as court composer for a series of wealthy families. The richest family in Europe at that time were the Esterhazys, and Haydn worked for them for most of his life, creating music for the best musicians and having the time to experiment.
    It is one of Haydn's most popular works, written in 1796 for his good friend, Anton Weidinger, who had invented a new kind of trumpet with five keys. This allowed the instrument to produce more notes of the scale.
    This concerto was a ground-breaking addition to the trumpet repertoire. It has three movements, and uses many of the popular musical conventions of the time, including balance and symmetry.   The Finale, like much of Haydn's music, is peppered with good humour and fun!

    Borodin Symphony no 2
    Alexander Borodin was born the illegitimate son of a Russian prince and his mistress, but following the custom in such circumstances he was officially registered as the progeny of one of the prince’s serfs. The prince ensured he received an excellent education.
    Music and science especially appealed to Borodin. He became a research chemist. Nothing like broadening your interests!
    The popular second symphony took Borodin a good many years to complete as Borodin got side tracked by his scientific research and teaching duties.  The music ranges from wild, frenetic outbursts of the opening movement to the skin-tingling sensuality of the Scherzo’s central trio section.
  • Public Concert Sunday 4 July 2021
  •  Date Posted: Thu, 24 Jun 2021

    Wantage Orchestra Summer Concert
    Sunday 4 July 2021   7 pm
    Dvorak Symphony no. 9 in E minor Op.95 From the ‘New World'
    Handel Concerto Grosso op.6. no.6 - string players
    Ruth Gipps ‘Seascape’ - wind players
    Strauss Serenade for 13 wind instruments - wind players

    We are now excited to be able to perform a concert which we have been working towards over the pandemic year. Our members come from all walks of life and find playing together a fantastic outlet.  It has been a hard year, but the orchestra has continued to meet nearly every week physically, when possible, and virtually during the lock downs.

    With Covid restrictions the orchestra have often split into strings and wind in order to rehearse. As a consequence, we have a fantastic selection of wind and string pieces, as well as a symphony where we all come together.

    Our concert will include Handel's Baroque masterpiece, Concerto Grosso opus 6, No. 6 for strings. It includes the gravely elegant Musette. Handel would often perform it as a separate piece during oratorios and it was brilliantly featured on the soundtrack to ‘The Madness of King George’.

    The wind section will play Ruth Gipps ‘Seascape’. Gipps, born in 1921 was a student of Ralph Vaughan Williams. She experienced prejudice as a female performer and composer and was consequently judged ‘prickly’.  Now she is thought to be a ‘compositional genius’. The piece is evocative of the rise and fall of the ocean as you are transported along the ancient trading routes.

    The third piece is Richard Strauss’s Serenade for thirteen wind instruments, composed when he was just seventeen. A melodic triumph.

    The strings and wind come together for Dvo?ák’s Symphony No 9 ‘From The New World’, his most popular symphony, played in concert halls all over the world and beyond… . When Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon, it was on his mix tape.
    Dvo?ák, inspired by the folk music of his native Czech culture, wrote this symphony during his time in America, in the 1890s. Dvo?ák wrote that he really admired African-American spirituals and saw links to his beloved Czechoslovakia which he was homesick for.
    His audience in the USA wondered if it was indeed a new tune for a ‘New World’ or a home sick lament for the old world ? Please come, listen and decide.

    Old Mill Hall, School Lane, Grove, Wantage, Oxon OX12 7LB
    Tickets are available in advance.   Adults £9.00, Seniors/students £7.00. Schoolchildren are free.
    No paper tickets are available on this occasion.   Given COVID-19 restrictions, please note the following:
    • Please bring a face covering and wear it during the concert
    • The concert will be played without a break
    • The audience will be spaced and we ask you to maintain the seats you and your party are assigned on arrival.  Those within a ‘bubble’ of up to six may sit together; otherwise a spacing will be applied between parties
    • Given the need also to space the orchestra, some audience will be invited onto the stage, and some into the hall balcony.  Both of these require some steps.  Should this prove difficult, let us know and we will look to sit your party on the (limited) ground floor audience seating area.

  • Back to virtual rehearsals - Nov 2020
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 8 Nov 2020
    From November 2020 we have switched back to virtual rehearsals in response to the latest government regulations.

    We do hope to be able to resume in-person rehearsals before too long.
  • A new sort of rehearsals - Autumn 2020
  •  Date Posted: Sun, 27 Sep 2020
    A new sort of rehearsals - Autumn 2020
    Since August our committee has focused on designing a method of meeting, which complies with regulations: COVID-19 secure, and offers a risk assessment which our venues can agree to, and is agreed to by our attendees.  Currently with the wind and strings meeting in different locations, we have nonetheless started to rehearse again in person.  Lots of ventilation, hand sanitiser, and even monitoring CO2 levels!   Whilst rewarding to be back, we are very aware that not all of our members are able to participate at this time.  We are experimenting with both rehearsing and streaming the rehearsals so that others can remain engaged,

    The photo shows a recent socially-distanced rehearsal.

    The orchestra will continue to respond to any further changes to national regulations or local restrictions.
  • Navigating these strange times - Summer 2020
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 27 Jul 2020
    Navigating these strange times - Summer 2020
    Like so many music groups, we abruptly ceased rehearsals in March.  A planned String Playing Day was abandoned.

    We commenced rehearsals on a virtual basis in April.  This has been focused on our string players, and we have been fortunate in having string coaches who helped navigate the world of playing via Zoom, whilst recording guide tracks to allow us to practise.

    The string players' focus has been on Haydn's String Quartet Op 75 no 1.  We recorded this in July.
Brought to you by Making Music
Copyright © 2024 The Wantage Orchestra