STUART REED: Players pull out all the stops at charity concert

Portsmouth Philharmonia players following their concert to raise funds for Hayling Island Community Centre
Portsmouth Philharmonia players following their concert to raise funds for Hayling Island Community Centre
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A VERITABLE mountain of praise has been heaped upon the Portsmouth Philharmonia for their recent concert on Hayling Island.

Congratulatory e-mails whizzed through the ether every which way and back again.

The management team of Hayling Island Community Centre, Tania Jones and Tina Lambert, and the whole committee thought it was absolutely fabulous.

They were delighted the concert raised over £630 towards the centre’s extension and community café.

The Mayor of Havant, Elaine Shimbart, and her husband Gerry are reported to have enjoyed the evening very much and thought the choice of programme was excellent.

Indeed it was. Sibelius’ Finlandia, The Merry wives of Windsor by Nicolai, and Dvorak’s Symphony from the New World were crowd-pleasing pieces.

Less well known was Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Number 2.

Young pianist Liam Rowe, supported by soloists Abi Mansfield on cello and Colin Wilkins on violin plus the rest of the orchestra, gave a sterling performance of the slow movement.

Flushed with success and the audience’s standing ovation, Pompey Phil’s director and conductor Hugh Carpenter zapped off an effusive message to the players thanking everyone who worked so hard to make the event a success.

But the concert’s triumph was not achieved without one or two nail-biting moments.

Ticket sales before the concert were slow to materialise partly because the show clashed with other events on Hayling Island and a Fareham concert by the Havant Chamber Orchestra.

Luckily, several people paid at the door on the night which helped to fill up the centre. Like the Portsmouth Light Orchestra, the Meon Valley Orchestra and nearly all other local amateur orchestras, the Portsmouth Philharmonia is short of musicians, especially in the upper strings – fiddles and violas.

Thankfully, a handful of visiting players, known in the trade as ‘stiffeners’, bolstered up the ensemble.

Musical insiders privately admit that there were a few tricky passages to negotiate during the performance, especially in the Dvorak, but by admirable tenacity the orchestra managed to weather these deeps and shallows without actually capsizing.

Without doubt, the Portsmouth Philharmonia has firmly placed its footprint on dry land at Hayling Island.