An orchestra that was created for Portsmouth, and has forged a fruitful relationship with the city’s music festival, may have only a year to run as it prepares to give a concert in the Anglican cathedral tomorrow.
The Solent Symphony Orchestra, formed 20 years ago by conductor Steve Tanner and flautist Helen Walton, urgently needs financial backing if it is to survive beyond February 2013.
Failing that, the SSO Concerto Award winner to be chosen at the current Portsmouth Music Festival may be the last – ending a 16-year partnership.
Ghislaine McMullin, who won the award last year, will play Elgar’s cello concerto in tomorrow’s programme, which also features the third symphony by Brahms and the Consecration Of The House overture by Beethoven.
Helen says of the SSO Concerto Award: ‘It provides an amazing experience for the winner and is also beneficial to the Portsmouth Music Festival because it attracts participants from far and wide.
‘People like Ghislaine, who is from Oxford, enter because they know this prize is on offer, and it would be terribly disappointing for everyone if the link ended.’
Ghislaine, 17, aims to study the cello at music college and to become a professional cellist. She has won several other awards, is a member of the National Youth Orchestra and has successfully come through early rounds of the BBC Young Musician competition.
Among favourite memories of previous SSO award winners, Helen nominates performances by another cellist, Alexander Holladay, saxophonist Paul McEachran and pianists Yasmin Rowe and Sunil Manohar.
The SSO, consisting of professional musicians and music teachers, has performed many new or rarely-played works in intimate venues such as the cathedral, the Royal Marines Museum and St Agatha’s Church.
‘But,’ Helen says, ‘although we don’t pay our players, we do refund their travelling expenses and have to meet other costs including the hire of rehearsal and concert venues and the music.
People can help by becoming a Friend of the SSO for £10 a year, sponsoring a musician’s chair (£100) or sponsoring music hire or a performance of a favourite work (both flexible). Corporate sponsorship packages are also available.
Tickets cost £12. and for info on sponsorship, contact SSO chairman Les Walton on (01252) 711658.