STUART REED: Musicians like these are a rare breed

JEN Ansari, from Southsea, and Louise Holmes, from Winchester, are deskies.

Tuesday, 10th January 2017, 6:06 am
Violinists Louise Holmes, left, and Jen Ansari

That means they share the same music stand when they play in orchestras.

They’re both top class fiddle players and were in a prominent position in the first violins at the most recent Charity Symphony Orchestra (CSO) gig at Christ Church, Freemantle in Southampton.

Jen is studying for a master’s degree in music.

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David Basson, a retired police officer from Locks Heath, was also there on oboe and cor anglais.

CSO musicians like these three are a rare breed.

Normally, they have no rehearsals prior to the concert day itself.

They just turn up, sight-read the music works from scratch and perform concerts in the evening.

Quite often, the pieces are entirely new to them.

The CSO New Year Bonanza Concert at Freemantle was no exception.

At the rehearsal the music was dished out by Craig Lawton, the musical director.

The conductor Paul Ingram raised his baton and the first practice started.

Inside Christ Church it was bitterly cold at 11am on a Saturday morning.

Thankfully the kindly church parishioners made the orchestra jolly welcome by providing delicious hot food and drinks.

There was a steaming chilli con carne and rice.

This was followed by an excellent cheese board and a pudding with custard.

CSO musicians don’t charge to play and travel at their own expense from far and near to perform at southern England venues.

The leader, violinist Robert-Jan Koopman, is from Holland and Diego Becciolini, one of the second violinists, is from Portugal.

Both studied rocket science at Southampton University – you couldn’t make it up!

In a total of five hours practice, the two brilliant conductors Paul and Craig put the musicians through their paces.

They put together a knockout repertoire ranging from Strauss’s Blue Danube and Mascagni’s Cavalliera Rusticana Intermezzo, to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite and Franz von Suppe’s Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna.

The orchestra even had a tongue-in-cheek pop at Donald Trump by playing Souza’s Stars and Stripes March.

They raised more than £4,000 for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance through last year’s fantastic, 10th anniversary concert.

For more information about the orchestra go to

Stuart Reed is a musician from Fareham and belongs to a number of orchestras.