Havant Symphony Orchestra broadens its horizons in its new season

Tom Torley, Havant Symphony OrchestraTom Torley, Havant Symphony Orchestra
Tom Torley, Havant Symphony Orchestra
An enterprising programme for the 2016-17 season is explained by the Havant Symphony Orchestra's musical director with the words '˜it is becoming a bit of a different animal'.

Jonathan Butcher adds: ‘We are trying to grow a bit,’ referring particularly to the choice of 20th century masterpiece The Planets, by Gustav Holst, for the final programme.

But where enterprise has previously been confined mainly to smaller works, the HSO will also tackle major 20th century scores by other English composers - Walton’s Viola Concerto, and the Tuba Concerto by Edward Gregson.

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Jonathan says: ‘The orchestra has a complete set of parts for The Planets, probably brand-new, which they have never used.

‘I have done it with orchestras much less competent than the HSO who have some very good players and a strong leader in Cathy Matthews.

‘But it really isn’t complex to play although it uses quite large forces, and they have wanted an opportunity to do it for some time.

‘And Gregson’s concerto is in my view a far better piece than the better-known one by Vaughan Williams.’

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Gregson’s score also has a solo part for a percussion instrument called a flexatone - ‘a wobbly bit of metal which John Barry has used to great effect in his film scores,’ Jonathan says.

The HSO will again perform its three concerts at Oaklands School, Waterlooville, beginning on December 3 when the programme features the Walton concerto and Brahms’s first symphony.

Gregson’s concerto will be played by Tom Torley on March 25, in a programme also featuring Mendelssohn, Borodin, Schubert and Dvorak.

The Planets follows on July 8, following Brigg Fair by Delius and Khachaturian’s little-known piano concerto.

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Jonathan says: ‘I programmed the Khachaturian with another orchestra, with Peter Foggitt as soloist, and he was marvellous so we have booked him again.’

The Havant Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Robin Browning, will again give three concerts at Ferneham Hall, Fareham.

On October 15, violinist Savitri Grier plays the popular Bruch concerto in a programme also featuring Beethoven’s dynamic seventh symphony.

Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto and Mozart’s final symphony, the Jupiter, will be featured on February 11, and on May 20 an all-Beethoven programme includes the third piano concerto and fifth symphony.