|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.
|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.
Behold, the sea itself!
Vaughan Williams wrote A Sea Symphony, a piece extolling the virtues of the sea, with text by Walt Whitman.
|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.
Wantage Orchestra Summer Concert
Sunday 4 July 2021
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
|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.
|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.
|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.