Chichester Symphony Orchestra will offer final flourish for Festival of Chichester

Simon Wilkins Chichester Symphony Orchestra
Simon Wilkins Chichester Symphony Orchestra

Chichester Symphony Orchestra will be in concert on the penultimate night of this year’s Festival of Chichester.

It will be conductor Simon Wilkins’ sixth concert with them – and he is pleased with the progress they are all making together.

The concert will be on Saturday, July 13 at 7.30pm in St Paul’s Church, Churchside, Chichester. Catherine Lawlor will be the soloist in Brahms’ violin concerto. CSO will also perform Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances and his Symphony No 5.

“We have had a few people turn over since I joined,” Simon says. “We have got a new bassoonist and a new oboeist and a couple of new violins. People come and go. We have had a few students that we knew would only stay temporarily.

“But it has been good. We have all got to know each other and we have got to understand each other. They know what to expect and they know how I rehearse and that I might throw a few slightly unusual things in. And the nice thing is that they have got to the stage where they anticipate what I am going to ask for, particularly in terms of the strings. People have started to spot elements in the music where they know what I am going to be saying.

“It is partly about adapting for the style and the period of the piece. I am also quite strong on how I want the strings to sound. I also like to insert subtleties of speed and tempo. If you are conducting an orchestra, it is like playing a giant instrument. You should be looking for the same subtleties that you would look for as a solo performer. It is about looking for those little touches that are extra.

“I am very keen on dynamics and balance as well. Where appropriate, I want to push really loud and also play completely softly and everything in between. It is about finding a balance so that the audience hear every detail. It is about the performers listening to the others so that they can hear every feature and knowing that if you can’t hear it, you need to balance it.”

Simon is delighted to be including the Dvorak’s Symphony No 5.

“It is a really undeservedly neglected piece. If you know the New World, this is just as good.

“It has got fantastic melodies, great orchestration and folk characteristics in places. It is wonderful. It is great now to be able to conduct it. The audience will be asking why it isn’t done more.”

Also included is Brahms’ violin concerto: “It is probably my favourite violin concerto. It is an incredible piece. There is such a lot to discover in it. It is a solo concerto, but the orchestra is not just playing an accompanying role. I think the challenge is going to come from the fact that the solo violin is not always soloistic. The orchestra is quite often at the forefront and the violin is playing more accompanying music, and that is very interesting.”

Tickets on;; 01243 816525 or 775888 or you can book in person at The Novium, Tower Street, Chichester.

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