Cel­e­bra­tions will reach a crescendo

ONE of Peter­bor­ough’s finest mu­si­cal in­sti­tu­tions is pulling out all the stops to cel­e­brate a spe­cial an­niver­sary. JENNY COR­NISH found out more.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&World Update -

The City of Peter­bor­ough Sym­phony Or­ches­tra is 20 years old this month – and its mem­bers are cel­e­brat­ing in style.

They are plan­ning a spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance of Beethoven’s 9th Sym­phony, The Choral, at Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral on Satur­day, July 3.

Four of Peter­bor­ough’s most ex­cit­ing mu­si­cal so­ci­eties, Can­tus Poloni­cus, Gilden­burgh Choir, Peter­bor­ough Choral So­ci­ety and St Peter’s Singers will take part in the con­cert.

Four in­ter­na­tion­ally-renowned solo singers, Rachel Ni­cholls, Su­sanna Tudor-Thomas, Richard Roberts and An­drew Slater will also join the or­ches­tra.

The event will be di­rected by the or­ches­tra’s prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor, Rus­sell Ke­able.

He said: “Our chair­man has al­ways had this bril­liant idea of hav­ing land­mark con­certs and I think it’s a great thing. They stand out over all the other con­certs that we do.

“It gives the or­ches­tra an op­por­tu­nity to re­ally do some­thing spe­cial and play even bet­ter than they do all the year round.”

This is a fit­ting way to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary of one of the city’s jew­els – the or­ches­tra has been stag­ing am­bi­tious events since the very be­gin­ning.

Its inaugural con­cert also took place at Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral way back in 1990.

Steve Osborn, chair­man of the or­ches­tra and one of the founder mem­bers, said: “The CPSO started very promis­ingly with a grand con­cert at Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral di­rected by the cel­e­brated mu­si­cian and broad­caster Antony Hopkins CBE.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing very ex­cited at the op­por­tu­nity to play the fa­mous clar­inet so­los in Rach­mani­nov’s 2nd Pi­ano Con­certo with An­thony Gold­stone as the ab­so­lutely bril­liant pi­ano soloist.”

This im­pres­sive be­gin­ning was fol­lowed by a se­ries of con­certs at Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral with Antony Hopkins as prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor.

How­ever the ex­pense of hir­ing the cathe­dral and per­son­al­i­ties such as Hopkins be­came dif­fi­cult and the or­ches­tra had to change tack.

In 1992 Nor­man Beedie took over as con­duc­tor and the or­ches­tra be­gan per­form­ing sev­eral con­certs a year at the new St Mary’s Church, with just one con­cert a year at the cathe­dral.

Mr Osborn said: “This was a time of enor­mous growth and ac­tiv­ity. Man­ag­ing seven con­certs per year was a huge un­der­tak­ing.”

How­ever with Robin Simp­son as chair­man and Mark Penny as trea­surer, the or­ches­tra man­aged to gain spon­sor­ship from Royal Mail, and later Peter­bor­ough Power Sta­tion and govern­ment fund­ing.

“It is a trib­ute to the mas­sive amount of hard work that Robin and Mark put in that it was able to hap­pen at all,” said Mr Osborn.

When they moved on, a new ap­proach was needed and the sea­son was re­duced down to four con­certs per year. A new chair­man, David Noble, took charge in 1997 and set out to make the CPSO recog­nised as the “City’s Or­ches­tra”.

This led to the Mu­sic in the City project, where the or­ches­tra was sup­ported by coach­ing from mem­bers of the Royal Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra.

Ten years ago, the CPSO cel­e­brated its 10th an­niver­sary by giv­ing the first per­for­mance of John Rut­ter’s full or­ches­tral ver­sion of “Feel the Spirit”.

When the new Broad­way The­atre opened the CPSO gave the first clas­si­cal con­cert at the venue and went on to per­form there for the next nine years.

Mr Osborn says that un­der David Noble, the or­ches­tra be­came a true “com­mu­nity or­ches­tra”, in­clud­ing pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians and a wide range of lo­cal play­ers.

“I am re­ally proud that we have suc­ceeded in giv­ing a large num­ber of lo­cal mu­si­cians the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop and raise their own stan­dard of play­ing in a tol­er­ant at­mos­phere while re­main­ing suf­fi­ciently good to at­tract re­ally strong play­ers from as far afield as Ip­swich and Grimsby to work with us at no cost,” said Mr Osborn. “Of course we are also suf­fi­ciently good to pro­duce re­ally out­stand­ing mu­sic for the peo­ple of Peter­bor­ough.”

In 2002 Nor­man Beedie re­signed as prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor af­ter 10 years of ser­vice and af­ter a rig­or­ous search Rus­sell Ke­able was ap­pointed as prin­ci­pal con­duc­tor and Pavel Kotla be­came prin­ci­pal guest con­duc­tor.

Mr Osborn took over as chair­man in 2005 and has con­tin­ued the work to de­velop re­la­tion­ships with the city coun­cil and with the mu­si­cal com­mu­nity of the city.

The or­ches­tra has also con­tin­ued to work on am­bi­tious projects with a con­cert in spring 2008 of Mahler’s 2nd Sym­phony – the Res­ur­rec­tion – which was the biggest sin­gle clas­si­cal mu­sic event in Peter­bor­ough for more than 15 years.

Mr Osborn said: “It was one of my proud­est ever mo­ments to be able to bring 10 trum­pets and nine French Horns in one or­ches­tra into Peter­bor­ough Cathe­dral. It was a truly stun­ning con­cert.” Ex­tracts of the con­cert were broad­cast on BBC Ra­dio Three later that year.

Mr Ke­able is now work­ing at Sur­rey Uni­ver­sity but still di­rects the CPSO once a year, with Le­ices­ter­shire con­duc­tor Paul Hil­liam tak­ing over the rest of the time.

The fire at the Broad­way The­atre meant CPSO had to find an­other venue, but have now set­tled in at the Voy­ager School Con­cert Hall.

Mr Osborn now hopes the or­ches­tra will go on to have many more years of suc­cess, and be sup­ported by the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

“The CPSO brings to Peter­bor­ough out­stand­ing soloists, some with lo­cal con­nec­tions, as well as a first class mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

“Au­di­ences are vi­tal to us. We are de­lighted that so many of our au­di­ence fol­lowed us to the Voy­ager, and we are work­ing hard to pro­mote aware­ness of the CPSO and en­cour­age more peo­ple to come and ex­pe­ri­ence our mu­sic-mak­ing for them­selves.”

He is also hop­ing that the city it­self will start to at­tract more clas­si­cal mu­sic.

Mr Osborn said: “It has al­ways been a great sad­ness to us that good qual­ity clas­si­cal mu­sic in­clud­ing the best pro­fes­sional per­for­mances seem to com­pletely pass Peter­bor­ough by and we do not get as many op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence the best in clas­si­cal mu­sic that places such as King’s Lynn do.

“We very much hope that the new Peter­bor­ough Cul­ture and Leisure Trust will im­prove on that sit­u­a­tion but it is start­ing in dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times and I fear that it will need a fair time yet be­fore it can make an im­pact.”

Tick­ets for the con­cert are on sale at the Tourist In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, Bridge Street, Peter­bor­ough, or by call­ing 01733 452 336, or on­line at www.cpso.org.uk

CON­DUC­TOR: Rus­sell Ke­able.


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