Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia switch to St George’s Church, Cleveland Road, Whyke for their Festival of Chichester concert this year.
After several years in Boxgrove Priory and with the Priory unavailable this year, Sinfonia member Jean Campbell suggested St George’s as meeting all their requirements: “We have done the Festival of Chichester four or five times now, and I think we have played in Chichester in the past before that. I have been going to the Friday evening concerts at St George’s, and it seems an excellent venue. It is a lovely big space and lovely friendly people, and we also like a venue to have a good acoustic to show off our music.
“The orchestra is 35 strong and we have got seven different types of recorder, and we need to have the space for the various instruments to show what they do in the various pieces we play.
“The group goes right back to 1995. It is one of the oldest recorder orchestras. Recorder orchestras started to be formed, and ours was one of the first. There are now two dozen. I think it was just that there were very good players around and a lot of music that could be played. There were people around that were prepared to organise things and mastermind orchestras. I think the timing was that there was a bunch of very, very good players around at that time.”
Also key has been a change in attitudes generally towards the recorder, seen by so many as the squawky bane of their school days: “This is now the third year running that a recorder player is in the run-up to the BBC Musician of the Year. That’s a very significant step forward for the instrument, and being on the BBC Musician of the Year is certainly going to be a big help. There has also been a big improvement in the availability and the quality of the instruments. There is now an enormous choice. There is an awful lot going on now once you scratch the surface. There is enormous activity in the recorder world, and they are still being taught in some schools.”
For Jean, the recorder resurfaced 11 years ago when she moved down to Chichester from London: “I was unpacking and I came across a recorder in a box that I had completely forgotten about, and I thought that maybe I could take it up again. I discovered that there were courses at West Dean College that were running, courses for beginners. I had not properly played in the past. I had just played for fun, and so then I took it up seriously 11 years ago. You go on courses and you get into contact with other players and that just gives you impetus to go on. Four or five years ago, I joined the Hampshire Recorder Sinfonia.”
Their Festival of Chichester programme on Saturday, June 30 at 7.30pm will be The Azure Main, reflections on our sea-bound island heritage, featuring traditional and contemporary water music and words to inspire and delight, all as a festival fundraiser for St Wilfrid’s Hospice, Chichester.
The programme will include the Overture from HMS Pinafore and also Telemann’s Water Music. There will also be The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and a collection of sea songs: “We’re thrilled to bits to have secured Nimmy March as our celebrity guest reader. I think she is going to do The Stolen Child by W B Yeats and then a poem by Philip Larkin and also something that Joseph Conrad wrote about the Thames.”