Chichester Symphony Orchestra join the Festival of Chichester

Mark
Mark

Chichester Symphony Orchestra are promising an enticing programme for their summer concert as part of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

Under conductor Mark Hartt-Palmer and with guitarist Sam Brown, their programme features: Borodin – Polovtsian Dances Prince Igor; Rodrigo – Guitar Concerto; and Dvorak – Symphony No 8 in the University Of Chichester Chapel, College Lane, Chichester on Sunday, July 12 at 7.30pm.

Mark officially became conductor in September last year, having filled the post for a year or so beforehand. His involvement with the orchestra goes back to the year 2000.

“Over the years, the orchestra has had, dare I say, its ups and downs, its peaks and its troughs with various players leaving for whatever reason. For various reasons, we are very low on violins at the moment. We need to recruit, but the morale is good, and things are going well, and the choice of repertoire is good. I am involved with the music subcommittee with the choice of music as well as conducting the orchestra itself. When choosing, we have to bear in mind a bit of a balancing act really. On the one hand, we have got to think about the players we have got, especially for example the trumpet players if we choose lots of classical music and they are not going to have much to do. On the other hand, we have got to choose works that will appeal to the audience and will suit the orchestra as a whole. We also have to think about the finances and also the cost of the music.

“I can suggest and I can say, but there is the question of getting the parts from the library for little or no cost. When you are doing copyright pieces, there are usually hefty hire fees. You might want to do a Vaughan Williams symphony, but hiring the work for two or three months is not cheap.”

But Mark is pleased with the orchestra’s progress. He is always keen to encourage them to listen to each other as they play.

Are they achieving it?

“Yes and no. Sometimes they do; sometimes I have to remind them. But it is also a question, if you are doing for example a Beethoven symphony that you are taking dynamic markings from the score that might not be absolutely appropriate for the modern instruments we are playing which are different to those Mozart and Beethoven would have had. You have to listen and you have to balance accordingly.”

Which is where Mark comes in: “Sometimes it is something only I can hear from where I am standing. Sometimes it is something they should be hearing.

“But I think they are doing very well actually. The last programme we did was extremely challenging, Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony. It’s a very, very challenging work, but they really pulled out all the stops, and they gave an absolutely-fabulous performance back in March.”

For this particular concert, Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances are fun to play, Mark says: “They are also very challenging. And the Dvorak is probably my favourite of the Dvorak symphonies. It is just such a sunny, happy, feel-good work really. It just feels very satisfying every time you are hearing it and rehearsing it.”

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