Christmas Concert, 2023 - The Best So Far?
With more orchestra members and a record audience, Newent Orchestra put on a great show in December, 2023. This was a traditional Christmas concert full of carols, 'sleigh rides' and classics from Tchaikovsky and Offenbach.
Highlights included special guests, the Strawberry Hill Dance Centre, whose students gave a sparkling, theatrical performance, and solo pieces from individual members of the orchestra, showing off the depth of musical talent that we possess. We were also fortunate to have composer Christopher Boodle in the audience, witnessing one of his pieces written specially for the Christmas season.
Newent Community School - a new relationship
Newent Orchestra has been developing support and involvement with music making at Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre. The aim is to encourage music activities with the school's students by making our presence felt!
On the agenda is a series of highly popular lunchtime rehearsals at the school during which students are encouraged to come and find out what we do and can offer. This includes support for school concerts, starting with the school's Christmas Concert on the evening of 21st December, and individual support for music students. To mark this collaboration, we are 'upgrading' our social media accounts with the school in mind and the school's logo is now proudly displayed on our website.
Photos, courtesy Robin Lister, CPAGB
Our summer concert, June, 2023, was the most challenging we've undertaken, needing a great deal of musical skill and stamina, and because of this gratifying that it was such a success. A large and appreciative audience witnessed pieces by Mendelssohn, Korsakov, Mozart, Whitlock and Saint-Saens in the first half, and the first performance of 'The Treasure of May Hill' by Bill Anderton in the second, an original musical narrative and collaboration with local actor, Phil Hemming. The orchestra is clearly in a period of transition, now under the baton of Tobias Lazenbury, for the first time this concert, as we take on a wider repertoire of orchestral works. Congratulations to all involved in this brilliant concert.
Trevor Pleass, who played first violin and supported the orchestra through innumerable concerts, workshops, meetings and other events, has died at the age of 95. A lover of the orchestral tradition, his playing, companionship and ready wit has gone from our lives, but his memory has become a part of the orchestra's lore and will thus be a part of its heritage in perpetuity.
Meet Our New Conductor
Tobias Lazenbury is a vibrant and energising conductor, recently appointed with our orchestra. He has experience of large and small groups, with leadership skills that have been successful in orchestral and theatrical settings, directing players and performers of amateur and professional status. Rehearsals and performances under Tobias's baton are both fun and inspiring.
Our annual orchestral workshop was devoted to works by Gustav Holst. It's the 150th anniversary of his birth in Cheltenham, 2024, so this was a great preliminary. The day was conducted by Tobias Lazenbury (Newent Orchestra) and by Fiona Crawley (Royal Forest of Dean Orchestra). The three works we rehearsed were Suite de Ballet, Somerset Rhapsody and A Japanese Suite. Chris Cope, founder of the Holst Society, was due to give us a talk about these pieces and the work of the Society, but was ill on the day, so his informative talk was read out by Bill Anderton. Phil Harding, who is a Newent maker of fine violins, violas and cellos, set up a demonstration in the hall during the day, aided by his apprentice maker and daughter, Jo.
Newent Orchestra Grant Fund
The most recent award was made to Newent Community School Music Department to facilitate a 'Bring and Mend' day for musical instruments. If you would like to donate an instrument to the school for refurbishment, let us know.
Bursary awards are available for the furthering of musical education through instrument purchase support, assistance towards cost of music tuition or courses, provision of a music course, and producing a composition. Applicants resident in the Three Choirs counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire are eligible. The fund is now also available to cover part of the cost for the establishment of music clubs or groups to encourage young people to take up music.
To apply for a grant, download the files below.
We have gratefully received contributions to the fund from the Newent Orchestral Music Appreciation Group (NOMAG), St Mary's Church in Newent, Peter Carmen and Chris Wooldridge.
Music Heritage Exhibits Upgraded
Newent's Market House is home to an exhibition and museum about Newent and the surrounding area. The exhibition has been given a make-over by the History Society and extended to include a permanent display about Newent's music heritage. This is good news for the orchestra which now has a permanent record on display of its considerable achievements. From Easter through the summer, the exhibition and museum is open on weekend afternoons.
We have recently updated a handbook describing and defining how the orchestra is run so that members can have the best experience from what is on offer. Interested? You can read or download it from the link below.
New Edition of Newent Orchestra's History
A painstakingly compiled history of our orchestra was published a few years ago. The author, George Taylor, handed this valuable document over to current treasurer and principal oboe, Dr Colin Henderson, who has not only brought it right up to date but has created a digital version, freely available on line.
The history records all past members, concert programmes and repertoire, as well as significant dates and events. Inevitably, there is more that could be added, if we knew about it. So, if you have any information or old photographs that could have historic value, please let us know. The document can be read on line or downloaded at 'History and Heritage'.
A Great Loss to Our Orchestra