... 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, light-hearted 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.
Join Us for a Night at the Opera
For our Easter Concert we're delighted to invite you to enjoy A Night at the Opera! We've joined forces with Yateley Choral Society to present a concert performance of overtures, arias and choruses from a selection of favourite operas including Carmen, Turandot, Lohengrin, The Pearl Fishers, Prince Igor and more. Soloists will be soprano Helen Bailey, tenor Ben Thapa and baritone Richard Bannan, and the concert will be conducted by Robert Roscoe. It's an exciting new venture for both organisations and we're sure it's going to be a most enjoyable evening for audience and performers! The date for your diary is Saturday 29th March at 7.45pm at Fyson Blum Hall, Yateley Manor School, Yateley (please note change of venue and slightly earlier start than our usual concerts). Tickets are available from Traveltime in Crowthorne, Bookends in Wokingham or Yateley Town Council, and can also be booked online.
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.
A Night at the Opera
A joint production with Yateley Choral Society
Saturday 29th March 7.45pm at Fyson Blum Hall, Yateley Manor School, Yateley
• Concert performance of overtures, arias and choruses from operas including Carmen, Turandot, Lohengrin, The Pearl Fishers, Prince Igor and more
Saturday 10th May 2014 at St John the Baptist Church Hall, Crowthorne