Founded in 1953, The Canterbury Orchestra is a thriving group of enthusiastic players who regularly tackle major works from the symphonic repertoire. The orchestra meets to practice on Wednesday evenings during term time at St Stephens School, CT2 7AD
Canterbury Orchestra normally performs 3 concerts each year, mostly at the University of Kent's prestigious Colyer-Fergusson Hall.
The founding of Canterbury Orchestra, initially Canterbury Orchestral Society, in 1954 is credited to the initiative of the twins Douglas and Seymour Gaywood. Both men travelled regularly to play in the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra and decided in discussion with Douglas Hopkins, the then organist at Canterbury Cathedral, to establish an orchestra nearer to home. After advertising locally sufficient players came forward to realise this ambition and Douglas Hopkins conducted the first concert on May 28th 1954 at the Cathedral Chapter House under the leadership of Christopher Peto. The programme included Beethoven's First Symphony and Mozart's Piano Concerto in A minor K488 -- both of which have featured periodically in the succeeding approximately 150 concerts! Since that time we have had several long-term conductors, the longest serving of whom have been David Goodes and John Hursey. The present Musical Director, Andrew Lowen, took over in 2007 and has steered the Orchestra deftly through some challenging and interesting repertoire whilst steadily expanding our audience base.
The Orchestra soon moved from the Chapter House to the old Marlowe Theatre in St Margarets Street which remained its home until 1977, after which we were mainly hosted by St Edmunds School and King's School until about 2005. After that time the Orchestra performed chiefly at St Peter's Methodist Church until considerations of space led us to try first Christ Church University's facilities and then to settle on the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent .. which we hope will be home to the Orchestra for some time to come. Of course, not all our concerts have been in our home city and over the years the Orchestra has performed in many of the towns and villages of East Kent. Interestingly, the overall pattern has been similar to this year with big concerts in May and November and a lighter offering , often associated with a Charity, in the summer.
The Orchestra has taken pleasure in featuring many first class soloists, some of established stature such as Jack Brymer, Ian Crowther and Tony Coe, and frequently exceptionally talented performers at the beginning of their careers lend a particular sparkle to our concerts. The Orchestra itself has remained a body of enthusiastic amateurs, drawn mostly from North and East Kent who enjoy making music in each other's company and strive to perform at the highest level they can achieve to provide enjoyment and access to the orchestral repertoire for local people. Over the past few years, the orchestra has encouraged good young players to join and the membership currently includes a wide range of ages, from school pupils to seasoned musicians who have been playing with the orchestra for over 30 years: a productive blend of youth and experience. The young players form a mobile population, so it follows that there are occasional vacancies, particularly in the brass and string sections, and talented players are always welcome.
Donna Birrell joined the Orchestra late last year and has rapidly become an important contributor to its musical performance through leadership of the Second Violins. She has a long-standing involvement in music, having played the violin and piano since the age of 7. She studied for a BMus degree at Goldsmiths' College, London University and then trained as a primary school teacher. She has remained musically active through her teaching and is now involved in teacher education at Canterbury Christ Church University. As her own children became more independent Donna decided to re-engage with performing and joined the Canterbury Orchestra. She immediately realized quite how much she had missed playing and has thoroughly enjoyed not only the opportunity to play new music but also the company and friendship of her fellow musicians.
Jo Wyatt was born in Harrow, North West London, and started playing piano and flute at the age of 8. At 14 she took up the bassoon, having been told by her music teacher at school that you had to be slightly crazy to be a bassoonist; she jumped at the chance and knew immediately this was the instrument for her! She took a music degree at Kingston University and has played with a number of amateur orchestras over the past 20 years. She is delighted to now be a member of Canterbury Orchestra. Jo also teaches piano to beginners of all ages. After living in London all her life, Jo left for a quieter life in St Margaret’s with her partner Mark. Life by the sea is great and life is so different in the country – she is still surprised when she finds herself in her car stuck behind a tractor! Jo recently embarked on a new career as a community carer and is loving it! She’s a massive yoga freak and works out regularly, taking part in at least one charity run a year.
Hana Nohynkova joined the First Violins in the summer of 2009 when she arrived in Canterbury from the Czech Republic. Hana was pleased to find that the Orchestra provided a friendly and welcoming environment and has particularly enjoyed the opportunity to play some repertoire that was new to her, including the works of English composers rarely performed in her native country. Hana studied at the Charles University in Prague, then worked for several years as a music teacher and violin tutor. She has performed in many chamber and symphony orchestras and as a member of these ensembles played at concerts in the Czech Republic and across Europe. Although Hana enjoyed life in the UK we no longer have the good fortune of her company since she returned to the Czech Republic in 2011.
Phil Vivian made the decision to return to playing after filling in at shortnotice for the orchestra in late 2010 and has since been reminded how much he missed it. Phil grew up in a small village near Guildford and studied for a BMus at the University of Surrey before going on to complete a PGCE at Roehampton University. He has both his mother and Flanders and Swan to thank for the choice of instrument as he spent many car journeys listening to their song about playing the French Horn. Despite being out of the professional circuit for sometime Phil has remained close to music and is currently a Music Teacher at a local secondary school. Always on the lookout for new challenges, Phil will be moving to east London for the start of the next academic year but has nevertheless promised to remain with the orchestra in appreciation for them helping him rediscover his love of playing music.
Amanda Wyatt was born in Folkestone and learnt violin & piano as a Junior Exhibitioner at Trinity College in London. Whilst a member of the Kent County Youth Orchestra she became a Music Scholar at the Kings School Canterbury where she studied violin with the late Clarence Myerscough and piano with Robert Scott,winning the Alan Ridout Piano Prize.
Amanda went on to study the violin at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Erich Gruenberg on the AGSM Performers Course. Whilst at GSMD Amanda was asked to promote the Yehudi Menuhin Competition through quartet performances in Kent which led to a tour of Germany with her quartet.
After leaving Guildhall Amanda worked predominantly as a freelance chamber musician and in musical theatre leading orchestras for many professional productions. She is currently a member of the Kent Concert Orchestra, Crowther Chamber Ensemble and The Becker Ensemble, and recently led the orchestra for the Maidstone Choral Society’s performance of ‘Crazy for You’ and the Guildford School of Acting’s Graduation performances of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’. Amanda performed in many recitals locally as violinist with the Della Corte Piano Trio, and is very pleased to be returning to the position of leader to the Canterbury Orchestra.
Frank Johnson is one of our longest serving members, having joined in 1975 and led the ‘cellos since 1992. He began playing at the age of 18 and studied privately with David Cameron at the Royal Academy and then Marilyn Sansome after moving to Canterbury. Frank is an enthusiastic chamber music player and is particularly fond of string quartets. An example of his other activities is on the front cover of this programme! Frank is a well-known oil painter and has exhibited widely. He worked at the Natural History Museum making 3D exhibits for the galleries and later as an Art Therapist.
Kammy Pike: Music has always been an important part of Kammy’s life, from singing in her very early childhood to taking up the violin at the age of five – she remembers the impression that virtuosi like Kreisler and Heifetz had on her even then and sharing a birthdate with Paganini was a spur to her ambition! After years of playing with her school orchestra, graduating to leader in her final year, Kammy joined Canterbury Orchestra to fill the gap in her life before beginning her studies in music at Canterbury Christ Church University. After obtaining her BMus she worked in administration for London Sinfonietta and then with Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival, experience that has given her an insight into the world of the professional musician. She recently gave an accomplished performance of the Lark Ascending by Vaughan-Williams with the Christ Church Orchestra. In parallel with her interests in listening to and performing music, Kammy is developing her skills in luthiery, the making and restoring of violins. On a slightly more domestic note, Kammy is very keen on interior decoration and is presently working on floral designs for doors.
Jo Maddock: Jo has enjoyed playing first clarinet in Canterbury Orchestra for about four years and her sensitive treatment of this demanding role has contributed much to the quality of our performances. Oddly enough, Jo was first attracted by the oboe after attending an orchestral concert. Fortunately for us she opted for the clarinet at secondary school after playing recorder and singing in primary school and church. Jo studied music at Canterbury Christ Church then after postgraduate training moved on to teach in a Sittingbourne primary school. She loves the freedom in playing chamber music, especially clarinet quartets and trios; obviously she loves playing in orchestras too and has experience with local music centres, county youth orchestra and clarinet choir, National Youth Wind Orchestra for 2 years and occasionally plays for Kent Concert Orchestra. Jo's favourite music ranges from country bands to Brahms. Her most memorable musical experiences were playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with Canterbury Orchestra and for the Queens Golden Jubilee in Exeter Cathedral.
Tony Harris (viola) was born and went to school in Peterborough. He has always loved playing music and as a 6-year-old nagged his parents into buying him a second-hand piano so that he could have lessons. His later attempts to play the cello in his school orchestra met with little success. Whilst lecturing in physics at Sheffield University he started to play the piano with a group of wind players and discovered the joys of chamber music. It was only at the age of about 40, when his young daughter came home from school with a half size violin that he began to play viola. Tony went on to play in several different orchestras in Sheffield. He also went to classes in violin-making and made a number of instruments for himself and his two daughters, including the decorated viola which he normally plays. After retirement Tony came to Kent in 2004 and has enjoyed playing with Canterbury Orchestra since then. He is keen on all sorts of music, particularly the orchestral music of the late romantics, but playing in a string quartet or other chamber group is still his favourite pastime.
Charlotte Grainger was first drawn to the lyrical sound of the violin after seeing a performance on Blue Peter at the tender age of four. She had Saturdaymorning lessons up to grade 5 at St Edmund's School of Music, where she also had the opportunity to explore percussion, piano and saxophone.
Throughout school and university she was active in a wide variety of orchestras and participated in many music courses. As a member of Kent County Youth Orchestra, her most memorable experience was playing the Saint Saens Organ Symphony in Canterbury Cathedral. Charlotte likes romantic music and enjoys playing film music as well as the more classical orchestral repertoire. When her teacher left the country Charlotte continued studying on her own, passing Grade 8 in violin and securing a place at the University of East Anglia on the strength of her extracurricular music activities. Through university she took an apprenticeship with Aldeburgh Music which enabled her to help children and adults with complex needs in putting on music workshops and concerts. She also spent time working in a prison with young offenders, helping them engage with music and has since had a lot of experience working with children from deprived areas as a community musician using music to create positive change in their lives.
On moving back home from university Charlotte became a volunteer for Music for Change, a music charity which explores culture diversity in the classroom and community through educational music workshops and events. She also joined the Canterbury Orchestra and Rock Choir to maintain her own involvement in music-making and was lucky enough to perform at the O2 Arena this summer with Rock Choir. Charlotte currently works as a personal assistant for a young child with severe autism and ADHD and has encouraged his curiosity in music so successfully that he is now taking piano lessons.
Sat 6th May, Colyer-Fergusson Hall, 7.30pm
with Whitstable Dance
Tickets at £15 and £8 available from the Gulbenkian Box Office
Our Spring Concert introduces a collaboration with Whitstable Dance which will allow local young people to share the pleasure of performance with the Orchestra in a presentation of music and dance from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker. The programme will focus on Act ii of the ballet in which the heroine, Clara, travels with the Prince (an erstwhile nutcracker) to the Land of Sweets where they are entertained. The Nutcracker is one of the Tchaikovsky's most popular compositions. The music contains some of his most memorable melodies including the Trepak and the famous Waltz of the Flowers and March, as well as the ubiquitous Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. The ballet contains surprisingly advanced harmonies and a wealth of melodic invention. The atmosphere of magic and mystery is sustained by a performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral suite Scheherazade, inspired by the tale of The Arabian Nights in which the Sultan’s wife deflects her imminent execution through skilful storytelling and eventually wins her reprieve. Like The Nutcracker, the music is adventurous and delightfully orchestrated.
Interested in playing with the Canterbury Orchestra?
Call Nicky Pound, Canterbury Orchestra Manager on 01304 812755 or email us to find out whether we have vacancies.