Late Havant orchestras founder to be honoured with concert – by Stuart Read

A young busker from Chichester who became a violin maestro has paid tribute to the man who put him on the road to a distinguished musical career.

Roy Theaker who is now the artistic director of Stonnington Symphony Orchestra – Melbourne’s foremost community orchestra.

He said: ‘In the 1990’s Peter Craddock heard me busking in the streets of Chichester and kindly gave me his phone number.

‘I invited him to hear me play at the Chichester Festival. The following year he offered me a concerto opportunity with the Havant Symphony Orchestra.

‘It was exactly the kind of outreach, support and encouragement from which countless musicians have benefited from over the years,’ he added.

‘Following Peter’s example, I’m now in a position to do the same for up and coming players.’

Roy left the UK to front a Chamber Orchestra in the Algarve Portugal. Subsequently, he was the concertmaster of the prestigious Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for five years. Now based in Australia with his family, he also tours worldwide as a guest leader and orchestral conductor.

Peter Craddock BEM, who died in 2017 founded the Havant Orchestras in Hampshire and ran them successfully for 50 years.

The Havant Symphony Orchestra and Havant Chamber Orchestras are joining forces to perform a concert to celebrate the life and work of Peter Craddock at 2.30pm on Sunday, March 3. The venue is Oaklands School, Stakes Hill Road, Waterlooville.

The combined orchestras will perform some of Peter Craddock’s favourite works including The Merry Wives of Windsor by Nicolai, Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and ‘cello, The Walk in the Paradise Garden by Delius, Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture and the finale from Maurice Blower’s Symphony in C.

Two internationally renowned conductors, Mark Wigglesworth and Toby Purser, who were also encouraged by Peter Craddock, will perform at the concert.

Stefano Boccacci from Bogota, Colombia, who is currently developing his skills with the Havant Symphony Orchestra, will also take to the rostrum.

Past and present musicians who gained orchestral experience from the Bob Harding Bursary Scheme, which Peter Craddock co-founded, will swell the ranks of the combined ensembles.

Sadly Roy Theaker will be unable to attend the concert but he sends his best wishes to all his friends in the Havant Orchestras.

Peter Craddock’s widow, Sandra, said, ‘I’m delighted by this salute to Peter and his work. It will be a joyous occasion. 

‘When he started the Havant Symphony Orchestra some doubted it would last. Fifty years later it was still going and continues to this day.’