This concert had it all, a full house, the decimation of the violin sections due to Covid, the last-minute rallying round by local musicians to plug the resultant gaps, the passionate yet sensitive performance of Beethoven’s challenging ‘Pastoral’ symphony but perhaps, most of all, the fact that the concert was in aid of Ukraine. Nearly £650 was raised. Each player sported a blue and yellow ribbon or woven flower and preceding the main performance the audience stood whilst the orchestra played the Ukrainian national anthem transposed and arranged by its musical director and conductor, Simon Wilkins..

The main programme opened with Rossini’s well-known overture ‘The Thieving Magpie’, a piece which contrasts the smug and mischievous strutting of the magpie with the galloping climax as the bird’s felony is discovered.

The pace then slowed with the beautiful romantic ‘Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana’ by Mascagni. The final piece of the first half was Vivaldi’s baroque ‘Spring from The Four Seasons’ arranged by Tony Kitcherside, a former musical director of the orchestra.

The second half consisted of one of the longest but perhaps most beautiful symphonies ever written, namely, Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No.6 in F major ‘The Pastoral’. The orchestra succeeded in conveying the complex moods and dynamics of the countryside contained in the five movements. The bucolic tranquillity contrasted violently with an almost demonic thunderstorm followed by the relief of the country folk and a return to peaceful normality conveyed by the piece’s familiar melodic theme; a fitting ending to a truly impressive performance by the orchestra as a whole.

Notwithstanding the necessary hasty last-minute reorganisation of the upper-string players with guest players from the New Forest Orchestra, Romsey, Pia Piacere, Southampton and Winchester Chamber Orchestras. It was generally agreed that this was probably the best concert yet from the Solent Concert Orchestra.

Among the audience was Dr. Julian Lewis MP the orchestra’s patron and his continued support is very much appreciated. 

The next concert will be at St. Win’s Church, Totton on Saturday 25 June beginning at 3pm. More details are available at: