... to the Crowthorne Symphony Orchestra website.
We are an amateur orchestra based in Crowthorne, Berkshire, and have attracted our membership from Bracknell, Wokingham, Camberley, Ascot, Reading, and as far afield as Maidenhead, Aldershot, Newbury, Woking, Guildford and Andover. We are an enthusiastic, friendly group who make music for enjoyment’s sake, but who take rehearsals, practice and concerts seriously. Players are of all ages and come from all walks of life.
Our Director of Music is Robert Roscoe, who joined us in 2007. Under Robert’s leadership, the Orchestra has performed varied and challenging programmes including popular classics as well as less well-known pieces. We regularly invite soloists to join us.
Why don’t you come along to our next concert? If you are a competent player (even if you haven't played for a while and would like to get back to it) and would like to join us, or would just like to know more about the Orchestra then please browse this site or get in touch.
Looking Forward to the Summer Concert
We're delighted to welcome back Daniel King Smith as our soloist for the much loved Shostakovich Piano Concerto No2 at our summer concert. People will remember Daniel's fabulous performances with CSO of the Prokofiev and Warsaw Concertos and, a couple of years earlier, the Gershwin. The ever-popular Shostakovich concerto was written as a birthday present for the composer's 19 year old son, and is a delight both to play and listen to. We'll start the concert with a selection of Dvorak's fabulous Slavonic Dances – some fast and furious, some more reflective, but all with intricate Czech rhythms and melodies. After the interval we will play Cesar Franck's wonderful Symphony in D Minor, written at the end of the 19th century and premiered in Paris. We are greatly enjoying rehearsing this programme – equally rewarding but a complete contrast to our last concert! Tickets will be available from Traveltime and Bookends in the next week or so, or you can book online. Do make a note of the date - Saturday July 2nd, 7.30pm at The Old Gym, Wellington College.
Scandinavian Flavoured String Workshop, Saturday May 7th
We had a wonderful afternoon at the String Workshop! 33 violins, violas, cellos and basses, including a welcome number of visiting players, enjoyed a programme of music by Scandinavian composers, offering people the chance to explore some of the less well known string repertoire. We started with Lars-Erik Larsson's Little Serenade which was new to everyone, before moving on to the Sibelius Romance in C. After the break (thank you David and Anthony for providing us with tea and delicious cakes!) we worked through all four movements of Dag Wiren's Serenade for Strings which is huge fun to play! Many people recognised the BBC Monitor theme. Thank you Robert for another most enjoyable workshop, and fascinating insights into the works we were playing and into the psychology of sight reading music.
Extraordinary Emotional Evening
All of us fortunate enough to be at last night's concert – both orchestra and audience – will remember the evening for a long, long time. It was one of the most moving and emotional concerts many of us have experienced. The scene was set by Sibelius' Swan of Tuonela with the haunting and serene cor anglais solo beautifully played by Andrew Taylor. And then came the Britten Violin Concerto with the spellbinding Elizaveta Tyun. Very few of us had known the work beforehand but we were totally captivated by the music and her interpretation – and the emotional power of her playing. After the interval Malcolm Arnold's Peterloo Overture transported the audience to the chaos and horror of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 with almost cinematic descriptions of the cavalry charge. And finally another story of violence – this time narrating the tale of the outlaw Billy The Kid in Copland's ballet suite. Special thanks to Robert for creating such an inspirational and imaginative programme. We were also delighted to welcome some children from Oaklands School at the afternoon rehearsal, and very much hope that they enjoyed it.
Click here to watch the Philharmonia Orchestra's listening guide to Billy The Kid for a very interesting introduction to some of the ways that Copland uses the music to describe the different scenes in the story.
Photo: Andreea Tufescu Photography
Chamber Music Workshop
34 players enjoyed an afternoon of chamber music at our workshop on January 17th, playing everything from the Schubert two cello Quintet and Beethoven's Septet to Purcell Fantasias! Lots of good feedback on the day (despite the chilly classrooms - we will ensure that this doesn't happen again) encourages us to schedule these chamber music afternoons as a regular feature of the orchestra year. Many thanks to Robert for planning and coaching, David for providing much-needed tea in the break! and Anthony for homemade cakes.
Family Christmas Concert
Fabulous concert with a record, full house audience, and how lovely to see so many children! We played a really mixed selection of music from Prokofiev's Troika to Christmas At The Movies, but the highlights were without doubt the two solos. Mike Jessop's electric violin solo soared over the Carol of the Bells/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen arrangement, while Sally Ewins' flute playing captivated everyone in John Whittaker's new Suite on Christmas Carols for Flute and Strings, specially written for Sally and the CSO. The audience sang the carols beautifully, and the young budding conductors kept us on our toes! A really lovely start to Christmas.
Photo courtesy of Les Bradford
Spring Term Rehearsals and Chamber Music Afternoon
Next term's rehearsals start on Monday January 18th, and the full schedule is now on the rehearsals page. (We still need to confirm April 4th, depending on availability.) The day before we start, Sunday January 17th, will be our Chamber Music afternoon, following on from a most enjoyable event last year. Orchestra members should have received an email about this, and final groups will obviously depend on who would like to play, so please email us as soon as you can so you can be counted in to the mix!
Brilliant Brahms at the CSO Autumn Concert
More than 200 people came to enjoy our Autumn Concert and were treated to the wonderful, sensitive playing of our soloist Tom Hicks in Brahms D Minor Piano Concerto No 1. Tom, who is a name to watch for the future, came from the USA where he's currently studying to perform the Brahms both in Guernsey and with us. It was a very thoughtful and accomplished performance, and Tom was an absolute pleasure to play with. The programme started with Grieg's Lyric Suite - conjuring up wonderful Nordic imagery from the strings' haunting "Shepherd Boy" to the energy and menace of the "March of the Trolls"! Elgar's portrait of Alassio - "In The South" - completed the first half of the concert, with some magic moments including the viola solo played by Charles Bockett-Pugh.
Electrifying Shostakovich and Paganini
Saturday's Summer concert was nothing short of amazing. Our soloist for the Paganini - Leon Keuffer - earned a well deserved standing ovation for his extraordinarily virtuosic playing, demonstrating all Paganini's technical fireworks and the Sauret cadenza. The concert started with the stirring Finlandia, and was completed with Shostakovich's emotional and challenging 5th Symphony. This was a huge work to prepare but was so rewarding to explore – it also demanded our biggest orchestra to date with more than 80 players on stage. The whole concert was a truly unforgettable experience for everyone and a testament to Robert's skill and encouragement that we could give this performance.
Thanks to Deborah Owen for rehearsal photos.
Wonderful Workshop Afternoon Exploring Dvorak's Serenade for Strings
Nearly 40 players enjoyed a fantastic afternoon exploring Dvorak's Serenade for Strings at our annual Strings Workshop on Sunday. It was a challenge for many of us, but tremendously rewarding to have the opportunity to play this wonderful music, ably guided by Robert Roscoe. It was lovely to welcome guest players as well as orchestra members, and we hope that visitors will join us again - either in the regular orchestra or for next year's String Workshop (we'll publish dates and details as soon as they are fixed). Thanks to everyone for coming, to Robert for making it possible for us to play this sublime music, and to Anthony for the homemade cakes!
Summer Term Rehearsals
Because of the later than usual concert date, we're starting rehearsals for the summer concert straight away - Monday April 20th! We are missing two rehearsals in May, due to the Bank Holidays when the school will be closed, so this gives us 10 before the concert. Full details on the Rehearsals page.
Emotional Concert of Sibelius and Mahler
It was an evening of atmosphere and emotion at the Old Gym with Sibelius' haunting Valse Triste setting the scene before Mahler's heartbreaking Kindertotenlieder, most beautifully and expressively sung by baritone Richard Bannan. Sibelius Symphony No 5 completed the programme and pushed the emotions in every direction, from the first horn calls to the final fortissimo chords and silence. The Symphony was commissioned to celebrate the composer's 50th birthday. 2015 is the 150th anniversary of Sibelius' birth, and the next CSO concert, on July 11th, includes Finlandia.
Christmas Concert Featured Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez
Our Christmas concert on Saturday December 13th at 4.30pm at St John's, Crowthorne was a teatime, family-friendly concert. We welcomed soloist Manus Noble to play the much-loved Rodrigo guitar concerto, and then after the interval we played Christmas favourites including Sleigh Ride, Christmas at the Movies and a selection of carols. This was the fifth year that we've given a Christmas Concert at St John's, and it's becoming a bit of a tradition!
Amazing Evening of Grieg, Prokofiev and Mozart at our Autumn Concert
The orchestra played one of our most exciting programmes yet for our Autumn Concert, and we were delighted once again to see a capacity audience to the Old Gym. We started with Grieg's Peer Gynt Suites (including one of the BBC's Ten Pieces, In The Hall Of The Mountain King, which we'd invited children from Oaklands to hear live at our last rehearsal) and then welcomed Simon de Souza as our soloist in Mozart's wonderful Horn Concerto No 3. For the second half Robert had selected movements from all three suites of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet – a huge challenge but so rewarding for all of us. The acoustics at The Old Gym really came into their own, especially in the spinechilling opening to Montagues and Capulets where the discordant and dramatic brass and perscussion suddenly stop to reveal the still and muted string chord – as Robert said, summing up the whole tragic story in the first few bars.
Autumn Term Rehearsals - Update on Rehearsals Page
Rehearsals for the autumn term started on Monday 8th September. We are rehearsing at Oaklands Junior School, Butler Road, Crowthorne RG45 6QZ apart from 20th October when we'll have sectional rehearsals - wind at the Infant School at Oaklands, and strings at St John's Church Hall - and 27th October which is a string rehearsal ONLY, at St John's Church Hall. No wind rehearsal on 27th.
See the rehearsals page for full location details. 7.45pm til 10pm, programme details on the Next Concert page.
We're very sorry to announce that the Crowthorne Symphony Orchestra Workshop which was to be held on Sunday 7th September at Hatch Ride School, Crowthorne has been POSTPONED. For various reasons we have not been able to assemble sufficient strings – in particular violins – for the event to be viable. We apologise to those players who were looking forward to attending, and for any inconvenience caused. We have had lots of interest from other players so we have rescheduled the workshop to SUNDAY 8th FEBRUARY 2015. Please put the date in your diaries! The work to be studied and the venue will be as originally planned - Bruckner's 4th Symphony at Hatch Ride School in Crowthorne, RG45 6LP. Postponing is disappointing for everyone concerned, but we are confident that we will have a full orchestra for the rearranged date and that it will be an enjoyable, sociable and informal event of a high musical standard. We hope you will be able to join us.
Full House for Summer Concert
Our biggest audience ever enjoyed a fabulous concert on July 12th with Dvorak's New World Symphony and a sparkling performance by Daniel King Smith of Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No 1. and the wonderfully atmospheric Warsaw Concerto from the film
"Dangerous Moonlight". This exciting programme also included Weber's overture "Der Freischutz" which had been postponed from the Spring Concert. We've had lots of positive comments since the concert – including one man who enjoyed it so much he rang to book for the next one! - and it really was a night to remember for both audience and orchestra.
It was a Wonderful Night at the Opera!
Our joint concert with Yateley Choral Society was a huge success as nearly 400 people came to enjoy favourite opera overtures, arias and choruses from Carmen, Turandot, Lohengrin, The Pearl Fishers, Prince Igor and more. The Anvil Chorus and Easter Hymn were especially magical – the acoustics in the hall left such an atmosphere after each one and left the sound hanging in such a beautiful way. The choir sang beautifully as did soloists soprano Helen Bailey, baritone Richard Bannan, and tenor Patrick Ashcroft who stood in at the last minute and said he thoroughly enjoyed singing all the best bits from all the best operas! There was a massive amount of music for both orchestra and choir to learn over the Spring rehearsals, but everyone agreed it was well worth all the work, although it was quite an undertaking. The audience certainly enjoyed the evening - with lots of comments of "exciting" and "wonderful".
Congratulations to everyone who took part!
String Workshop, Saturday May 10th – Come and Play!
Come and explore the string repertoire at our sixth annual String Workshop on Saturday May 10th, which this year will be held at The Morgan Centre in Wellington Road, Crowthorne.
Robert Roscoe will conduct movements from a variety of music including:
• Britten Simple Symphony
• Hindemith Funf Stucke
• Mendelssohn Symphony No 3
• Warlock Capriol Suite
The workshop is open to all competent string players - you don't have to be a regular member of the orchestra to join us - and you're guaranteed an enjoyable afternoon. It's a rare treat to play in a string orchestra! The workshop costs £10 (£5 for students) and runs from 2.30-5.30 on Saturday May 10th, with a break for tea and cake. Please contact Faye Aspinall for more information and to book your place. Hope to see you there!
Family Christmas Concert
We had a most enjoyable Family concert of carols and seasonal music at St John the Baptist on Saturday afternoon, 14th December. The carols included favourites "Hark the Herald Angels" and "O Come All Ye Faithful" as well as the less well-known but beautiful "Gabriel's Message". The orchestra played a range of Christmas themed music – everything from "Roses de Noel" and "Christmas at the Movies" to the popular finale "A Christmas Festival" by Leroy Anderson. For this last piece we invited the youngest members of the audience to guest conduct a section, and we hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we did! One of the highlights of the concert was the first performance of a piece especially written for the Orchestra by one of our cellists John Whittaker – "A Christmas Overture" based on English carols. John explained that he loved carols and this was a great way to put all his favourites in one piece! We were very proud to be the first to play the music, which is destined to become a firm favourite in our Christmas repertoire.
Brahms, Dvorak and Handel/Elgar at Orchestra's Autumn Concert
More than 200 people packed in to the Christopher Lee Theatre at Wellington College (where we'd been moved at the last minute after an electrical problem put the Old Gym out of use) to hear a wonderful programme conducted by Robert Roscoe. Our soloist Joe Davies was outstanding in his sensitive playing of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, and the audience also thoroughly enjoyed Elgar's arrangement of a Handel overture and the rhythmically complex Brahms 4th Symphony. It was a bit of a squash to get us all on a stage designed for theatrical productions, but we are very grateful to Wellington for managing to find us this alternative venue at the last minute. Special thanks to Robert and Martin for working all day on Friday to borrow, transport and install acoustic wall panels for the stage to make the venue more music-friendly.
Click here for more concert photos, with many thanks to Les Bradford.
Like Us on Facebook
If you use Facebook, please come and "like" our Crowthorne Symphony Orchestra page, and keep up to date with orchestra news. We've had a CSO Facebook group for a while, but Facebook have changed things and pages are now better for organisations than groups as you don't need to approve new members/supporters. However, Facebook won't let you automatically turn a group into a page so existing group members, please "like" the new page! 45 people already have, which is great, but we don't want to lose anyone in the switchover. Please also share the page with your Facebook friends who may like to support us.
Orchestra Workshop: Prokofiev "Romeo & Juliet" 29th September
We had a fabulous day exploring Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet - not easy, which is why Robert chose it as a workshop piece (our annual workshop offers a fantastic opportunity to play works that we would not normally get the opportunity to tackle in a concert programme). It was good to see so many visiting players, and of course we'd be delighted if you were interested in joining us! Many thanks to Faye for organising the day, and to Robert for guiding us through this music which was very exciting to play! Our next Workshop will be for strings in May 2014, with the full orchestra workshop in September - as Robert mentioned we hope to revert to our end of summer date for 2014, although this will mean finding a different venue. More news as plans firm up.
Photo courtesy of alangreeleyphotography.com
Rehearsals on Monday evenings
Rehearsals for our Autumn Concert are held every Monday evening from 7.45pm-10pm, at Our Lady of the Angels School, Crowthorne. If you're thinking of coming to play with the orchestra, why not check the vacancies page, and get in touch?
Summer Concert Success
An appreciative audience enjoyed our Summer Concert on Saturday July 6th, which featured the haunting Dvorak Romance for Violin and Orchestra exquisitely played by soloist Molly Cockburn. The concert started with Malcolm Arnold's high energy Tam O'Shanter Overture, followed – by complete contrast – with Delius' English Rhapsody, Brigg Fair. Dvorak's 7th Symphony in D Minor, full of wonderful Czech themes, completed the programme. It was good to see a large audience once again, especially with the competing attractions of the hottest day of the year so far and the Ladies' Singles Final at Wimbledon!
Many thanks to Les Bradford for photos.
String Workshop Explores Respighi and John Ireland
More than 40 string players enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at our annual String Workshop on Saturday May 11th, playing Respighi's Airs and Dances and John Ireland's Concertino Pastorale, conducted by Robert Roscoe. The Concertino replaced the planned Orchestral Suite by Frank Bridge which was unexpectedly unavailable, and it was a fascinating discovery – haunting and evocative of the immediate pre-war period (it was written in 1939 and dedicated to Boyd Neel). We were delighted to welcome many visiting players as well as our orchestra regulars. Many thanks to Faye for organising the event and providing tea and homemade cake! Our next Workshop is for full orchestra in September, when we'll be tackling Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, click here for details and to book your place.
Full House for Tchaikovsky Concert
A capacity audience thoroughly enjoyed the all Tchaikovsky programme which opened with the energetic Capriccio Italien, and included the Violin Concerto and the Second Symphony (known as "Little Russian" because of its themes from Ukranian folk songs). Soloist Jian Ren gave a spellbinding, emotional performance of the concerto which was greeted with rapturous applause.
Family Christmas Music and Carols Concert
Everyone enjoyed the Christmas concert, and its new afternoon time was popular with the audience, who sang beautifully and got us in festive mood. As well as the carols, the orchestra played a selection of seasonal music including our traditional favourites – Leroy Anderson's Christmas Festival – and some unusual arrangements including a lovely Overture on French Carols by Philip Lane, and the wonderfully named "Five Ukranians in a Bell Tower" – blending a Ukranian Bell Carol and Dave Brubeck's Take Five. Two of the younger members of the audience tried their hand at conducting "Sleigh Ride", to great applause! Afterwards, about 25 of the orchestra and friends enjoyed a Christmas meal at Loch Fyne in Wokingham.
Appealing Programme Enjoyed by Capacity Audience
More than 270 people packed in to the Old Gym for our Autumn Concert to hear a wonderful programme which included BBC Young Musician category finalist Dominic Degavino giving a powerful performance of the Grieg Piano Concerto. In a first for the orchestra the programme included a second soloist – and we were very fortunate to have Ed Cervenka, who is the leading cimbalom player of his generation, for Kodaly's Hary Janos. The cimbalom is an unusual instrument with a very distinctive sound which is often used in film scores, and indeed Ed played on the Lord of the Rings soundtrack as well as the soon-to-be-released Hobbit. In another orchestra first, Ed gave an informal open workshop earlier in the day, describing the history of the instrument, how he started playing, and the music which is written for it – a fascinating opportunity to learn and ask questions, and much enjoyed by everyone who came.
Photos of the concert courtesy of Les Bradford.
'Best of British' Summer Concert
Our Summer Concert was a resounding success with the near capacity audience enjoying a varied 'Best of British' programme which took them from Elgar's London to Malcolm Arnold's Cornwall via St Paul's School! The centrepiece of the concert was a beautiful and emotional performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto by our soloist Jennie Pounder. Our next concert is on November 24th and will include Grieg's Piano Concerto and Schubert's Unfinished Symphony.
Full House for Emotional Rachmaninov
Our largest audience ever packed into The Old Gym on Saturday evening to hear Julian Clef's beautiful and moving performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No 2. This extraordinarily talented young musician is a name to watch, and it was exciting to hear him at the start of what will clearly be a stellar career.
Christmas Concert and Birthday Celebrations
Everyone enjoyed our concert of carols and Christmas music at St John's Church, Crowthorne on December 17th. We played a selection of seasonal music including the recently composed Christmas Overture by Nigel Hess, and the ever popular Leroy Anderson classics. We ended up playing Sleigh Ride twice as two members of the audience were persuaded to try their hand at conducting! The orchestra is celebrating our 20th birthday so a magnificent cake (complete with iced music – Happy Birthday of course!) was made by Roxy, one of our First Violins, and enjoyed by audience and orchestra in the interval. Here is Robert blowing out the candles! More concert photos on the Gallery page.
Soloist Mesmerises with Mendelssohn
A near capacity audience was spellbound by Jian Ren's virtuosic performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto at the orchestra's Autumn Concert. Clearly a musician to watch out for in the future, Jian Ren is also a warm and generous person who joined the orchestra for the Brahms Symphony after the interval. An interruption by the fire alarm part way through the Symphony meant that the audience had to vacate the hall for ten minutes, where they were entertained by impromptu carols and folk tunes from members of the orchestra led by Joanna and Mike!
Brilliant Soloist Enthralls Audience at CSO's American Concert
A very exciting American flavoured concert was thoroughly enjoyed at Wellington College on 2nd July, the nearest Saturday to Independence Day. Our soloist for the Gershwin Piano Concerto was Daniel King Smith who gave a thrilling performance to the obvious delight of the audience and orchestra. The orchestra was our largest in recent memory with 70 players on stage for Candide and An American in Paris, where we were joined by three additional percussionists to play a variety of instruments including the famous Parisian taxi horns! To complete the first half of the concert, the CSO strings played the haunting Barber Adagio which felt especially reflective as it followed the sheer energy of Candide. Oliver Tearne's photos of the concert are in our Gallery, and you can read Joanna Lavender's Programme Notes here – many thanks to both for their work! Our next concert is on Saturday November 26th – the programme will include the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.
String Workshop 2011
More than 40 players enjoyed an afternoon String Workshop on Sunday May 15th playing Elgar Sospiri, Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and the Suk Serenade for Strings conducted by Robert Roscoe. We'd appreciate feedback on whether future String Workshops should be a full day rather than an afternoon – please email us and let us know whether you'd be more or less likely to come to a longer workshop, and whether you'd get more from the experience with extra time to work on the music.
Excellent Concert Raises Funds for Indian Music School
The audience at The Old Gym thoroughly enjoyed an exciting concert on Saturday 12th March, featuring a sparkling performance from our young soloist, Carys Evans, playing the Strauss Horn Concerto. During the interval, Carys gave us a fascinating first-hand account about her time as a volunteer at The Mathieson Music School in Calcutta, which offers deprived Indian children a rounded education and a future career through music. The Orchestra had already pledged to give the proceeds of our raffle to the School and the audience, clearly inspired by the talk, contributed a generous £250. As Carys said, money goes much further in India so this will be the equivalent of £1000 to the School. More information about the School can be found by clicking here and they have a Just Giving page to fundraise for the new buildings which Carys told us would quadruple the amount of children who could benefit. We'd like to thank Carys for giving such a wonderful performance of the Concerto, and also for introducing us to the important work of Mathieson Music School.
Full House for Bruch Concerto
The orchestra's Autumn Concert, featuring the Bruch Violin Concerto brilliantly played by soloist Sarah Sew, was totally sold out after an unprecedented demand for tickets. We are extremely lucky to have had the opportunity of playing with Sarah, who gave a mesmerising performance, and are also very grateful to Ron Colyer who stepped in to lead the orchestra at the 11th hour after Melissa injured her shoulder. It was an amazing occasion for everyone and we've had lots of positive feedback.
Programme Notes Online
We're very fortunate that Joanna Lavender, our Leader, researches and writes original programme notes for our concerts, and we're posting them here after each concert with the aim of building a useful and interesting resource. Amateur orchestras are welcome to use the notes so long as you credit Joanna and the CSO. Have a look at our new Programme Notes page!
UPDATE: Concert Raised £2000 for Church Fund!
We are very pleased to announce that our donation from the Summer Concert to St John's Repair and Renovation Fund will be a massive £2000!
The Orchestra's Summer Concert on July 3rd was a huge success. A
capacity audience packed the church and thoroughly enjoyed the
programme – we even had to play an encore! – and while we are still
adding up the exact total we're certain to be able to make a substantial
donation to the Church Repair and Renovation Fund on top of the
£250 presented on the day. New photos (thank you Oliver!) give a
evening and also show the cheque presentation by Orchestra Chairman
Martin Leech to the Vicar of St John the Baptist, Rev Lisa Cornwell
– check out our gallery page to see them.