Conductor Peter passes on baton after 50 years

Peter Craddock conducting the Havant Chamber Orchestra during rehersals for their 40th anniversary concert.

CONDUCTOR Peter Craddock is stepping down after 50 years at the helm of Havant Symphony Orchestra.

The 76-year-old has decided to retire from his voluntary role after 200 concerts working with some of the world’s best musicians.

When he set up the orchestra in January 1962 for Havant Further Education Service, little did Peter expect to end up conducting a symphony orchestra which is known throughout the UK for its interesting programmes, musicianship and friendliness.

There have been gala performances this year and Peter’s final concert on December 8 will be a special one.

He generously invited the 80 players to suggest items for the programme. From a long list he chose music that he says will be a tremendous finale to his relationship with all the orchestral players he has worked with.

Mr Craddock said: ‘Fifty years is a long time and I think it’s time for the orchestra to have a change. My health isn’t too good at the moment and it seems a good time to step aside. I shall miss rehearsals and I shall miss the concerts but I’m sure I will be involved in some way. I will be carrying on with the smaller Havant Chamber Orchestra for a little while to see how I go. I will miss it though.’

The concert, at Oaklands Catholic School, in Waterlooville, will include Brahms’ Double Concerto, giving Mr Craddock the opportunity to work with two of his favourite soloists.

He said Alexander Sitkovetsky is one of the best violin soloists to have played with either of the Havant Orchestras. Meanwhile Richard Harwood, who is from the area, and first played with the orchestra in 1992, is a cellist respected worldwide.

Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony will also be performed and there will be a talk on the symphony at 6.30pm while The Upbeat Club for younger music-lovers will have their own meeting.

The concert begins at 7.30pm. To buy tickets, ranging from £18 for adults to £1 for under-19s, call 01243 377430.

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