Meon Valley Orchestra gears up for its first major performance

The Meon Valley Orchestra (160081-7302)
The Meon Valley Orchestra (160081-7302)
Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

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THEY started off as a small folk band.

But in just a few years they’ve expanded to become a full-blown orchestra.

The Meon Valley Orchestra during rehearsals at Soberton Village Hall ''Picture: Sarah Standing (160081-7283)

The Meon Valley Orchestra during rehearsals at Soberton Village Hall ''Picture: Sarah Standing (160081-7283)

Now the Meon Valley Orchestra, which has more than 30 members, is gearing up for its first major performance.

And it’s on the look out for people to join in.

Founder member Annabel Armstrong, from Meonstoke, said: ‘We’ve got around 36 regular players now and have a full orchestral sound.

‘Although we would benefit from some extra percussion players.’

The Meon Valley Orchestra will be playing a concert with the Portsmouth Philharmonia in March and the players are busy polishing their performances.

‘We’re playing works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rossini, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Leonard Bernstein now,’ said Mrs Armstrong.

The Meon Valley Orchestra began in 2008 as a group of six who got together once in a while to make music for pleasure.

Soon they were invited to play at local fetes and became known as the Meonstoke Village Band.

‘Our original line-up was violin, guitar, recorder, clarinet and flutes,’ said Mrs Armstrong.

‘We played simple folk tunes and carols.

‘By 2009 we’d attracted string players including violins, cellos, bassoon and a saxophone.’

The group renamed itself the Meon Valley Band and began playing further afield, including the annual World Wide Women’s’ Day of Prayer services.

In 2012, Lorraine Masson, a violin and viola teacher became conductor and musical director.

Mrs Masson, from Wickham, said: ‘The players’ standards varied but I could see that they had potential.

‘All they needed was a little guidance to tackle more challenging material music from the shows and light classical pieces.’

Mrs Masson was joined by violinist and leader of the orchestra Brian Lant, a retired music teacher from Shedfield.

More instrumentalists were added recently including a second bassoon, viola players, more clarinettists and cellists plus trumpets and a trombone.

Now all eyes are on the show, which takes place on Saturday, March 5 at the United Reformed Church in Fareham.

The concert raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. For tickets, or to join, call (01329) 286256.