"Didcot's new symphony orchestra"

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8 Sunday 22 May 2022 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

Concert for Ukraine
Russian Masterpieces 2
In support of the people of Ukraine, the long-planned Russian theme to this concert begins with the stirring Adagio from Spartacus - made popular by the TV series The Onedin Line.

Nikolai Myaskovsky composed in the tuneful tradition of his teachers Glière, Lyadov and Rimsky-Korsakov, and became known as the father of the Russian symphony – his 27th (and last) being the finest – a truly unjustly neglected masterpiece.

Mussorgsky's glittering Pictures at an Exhibition, as stunningly orchestrated by Ravel, needs little introduction to concert audiences – as a descriptive musical portrayal of works of art by artist and painter Victor Hartmann during his travels abroad.


VerbytskyState Anthem of Ukraine
KhachaturianAdagio from Spartacus and Phrygia
MyaskovskySymphony no 27 in C minor
Mussorgsky orch. RavelPictures at an Exhibition
MassenetLast Sleep of the Virgin (encore)
Orchestra 55    Audience 115


7 Sunday 6 February 2022 at 16.30

   The Beacon, Portway, Wantage OX12 9BX

Didcot Concert Orchestra is back !
The Gypsy Baron Overture is one of the most symphonic works by Johann Strauss the Younger, but none of his works would be complete without a waltz or two, and this piece is no exception. DCO is delighted to welcome violin soloist and acclaimed recording artist Clare Howick to play the delightful Violin Concerto by Glazunov. She will also perform the very rarely heard Nachtstück by Reznicek – its enchanting atmosphere features only four horns, a harp and strings to accompany the soloist. The Fifth Symphony of Dvořák is undeservedly less well known than his later works, but features melody aplenty, and its wistful and energetic moments form a satisying whole with an overall pastoral quality.


Strauss, J IIGypsy Baron: Overture
ReznicekNachtstück (Clare Howick) 
GlazunovViolin Concerto (Clare Howick) 
DvořákSymphony 5 in F
SchrekerBirthday of the infanta (encore)
Editor's Choice – Gramophone magazine
Recommended Recording – BBC Radio 3 Record Review
... playing with beguiling warmth and affection   – The Strad
... simply spectacular   – American Record Guide
Clare's debut concerto disc, British Violin Concertos, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, was selected as a 'Recording of the Year 2018' by MusicWeb International
Orchestra 44    Audience 122
This concert had to be moved with ten days' notice from Cornerstone, Didcot to The Beacon, Wantage.


6 Sunday 8 March 2020 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

Our sixth concert begins with a quintessentially English rhapsody – A Shropshire Lad – whose enchanting atmosphere leaves us wondering what future masterpieces Butterworth (a teacher at Radley College) would have written had he not been killed on the Somme. Then comes a superb but rarely-played gem by Josef Suk – Dvořák's son-in-law – whose Fairy Tale is a broad melodic tapestry that relates the path of true love. We end the concert with Franck's evergreen Symphony in D minor, which has delighted audiences for 130 years.
ButterworthA Shropshire Lad
SukFairy Tale - suite for large orchestra
FranckSymphony in D minor
Orchestra 50    Audience 163


5 Sunday 6 October 2019 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

We begin our fifth concert with a symphonic fantasy by Rachmaninov – The Rock – depicting with vivid orchestration the meeting of a young girl and an older man during a Christmas Eve blizzard, and much admired by Tchaikovsky. Wagner's opera Tannhauser describes the struggle between sacred and profane love - we play a synthesis of the opera's two most famous orchestral excerpts. The concert ends with Rimsky-Korsakov's dazzling masterpiece Scheherazade, in which the solo violin part is played by DCO's Leader, Kate Bailey.
RachmaninovThe Rock - Symphonic Fantasia
WagnerTannhauser: Prelude and Venusberg Music
(with semi-chorus from Didcot Choral Society)
Orchestra 50    Off-stage semi-chorus 11    Audience 164 (highest)


4 Sunday 9 June 2019 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

Our fourth concert begins with Emil von Reznicek's effervescent Donna Diana Overture, followed by an unjustly neglected melodic miniature by Glazunov. Young rising star Leo Appel then joins us for Bruch's ever-popular First Violin Concerto. Henri Duparc was a very self-critical French composer who destroyed much of his orchestral output. His Danse Lente is one of only three surviving orchestral pieces, and it deserves to be heard much more frequently. Effervescence returns aplenty as the concert ends with the 17-year-old Bizet's tuneful and remarkably accomplished Symphony in C.
ReznicekDonna Diana Overture
GlazunovSerenade no 1 in A
BruchViolin Concerto no 1 in G minor (Leo Appel)
DuparcDanse Lente
DuparcExtase (orch. Bushell)
BizetSymphony in C
Orchestra 42    Audience 151


3 Sunday 3 March 2019 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

Russian Masterpieces 1
We begin our third concert with the popular and exuberant overture to Glinka's opera Russlan and Ludmilla. Then comes an unjustly neglected gem by Glazunov – his tuneful Poème Lyrique, and the first half ends with Mussorgsky's epic Night on the Bare Mountain – depicting a witches' sabbath, and full of contrasts and innovation. The concert also includes one of the most popular symphonies of all time – Tchaikovsky's Fifth. Who can resist hearing the famous horn solo in the second movement?
GlinkaRusslan and Ludmilla Overture
GlazunovPoème Lyrique
MussorgskyNight on the Bare Mountain
TchaikovskySymphony no 5 in E minor
Orchestra 51    Audience 154


2 Sunday 14 October 2018 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

Following our very successful inaugural concert in February 2018, we begin our second concert with a rare gem by Croydon composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at the suggestion of Elgar. We follow this with Elgar's immortal Cello Concerto – practically his last work, and full of mourning for a lost world after the first world war. Soloist Jacqueline Johnson then treats us to an orchestration by world-famous cellist Lynn Harrell of Victor Herbert's short piano piece "Yesterthoughts", and we end the concert with Dvorak's happy and tuneful Sixth Symphony.
Coleridge-TaylorBallade in A minor
ElgarCello Concerto (Jacqueline Johnson)
HerbertYesterthoughts (Jacqueline Johnson)
DvořákSymphony no 6 in D
Orchestra 49    Audience 144


1 Sunday 11 February 2018 at 16.00

  Cornerstone Arts Centre, 25 Station Road, Didcot OX11 7NE

Inaugural Concert
Our inaugural concert! An afternoon of classical music with Didcot's very own and brand new symphony orchestra, playing music from the late Romantic era. Ballet lovers especially will recognise Ponchielli's charming "Dance of the Hours" with its changing moods and catchy tunes depicting the times of the day. French composer César Franck's highly melodic and atmospheric symphonic poem "Psyché" offers a unique chance to hear this rarely performed but tuneful gem. The concert concludes with Brahms' incomparable and sunny Second Symphony, replete with fresh inventive melodies, colourful orchestration, and tunes you'll go home humming.
BushellA Didcot Fanfare
PonchielliDance of the Hours
FranckSymphonic Poem: Psyché
BrahmsSymphony no 2 in D
Orchestra 46    Audience 157


8   I thoroughly enjoyed the concert! I thought the standard was extremely high, verging on professional. A really impressive group of musicians, very expertly conducted.   Sally H.
8   This concert was based on a programme which had been planned for a previous date. It was well worth waiting for. Beginning with the Ukraine National Anthem – a moving gesture of support to a beleagured country – a varied selection of pieces from that region, including one none of us were likely to have known, were splendidly performed. A gentle encore rounded off a very enjoyable afternoon.   J.S.
8   I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed last night's concert and this whole session. It's a pleasure to play with so many players (and conductor) of such a high standard.   Sarah H., DCO cellist
8   Really enjoyed this concert, it was amazing and the standing ovation during the Ukrainian National Anthem was very emotional. A great orchestra, honoured to be part of it.   Sue Hurst, flautist

7   It was a great pleasure to work with you, and Didcot Concert Orchestra. What an amazing job you've done bringing together this great sounding orchestra. As soon as I walked into the hall and heard the lovely, full, warm sound of the orchestra, I knew we would create a wonderful performance together. It was so joyous to make music together, especially given that it was the orchestra's first concert since the beginning of the pandemic. Both yourself and the players were very supportive, warm and friendly, and provided great accompaniment to the Glazunov concerto. I thoroughly enjoyed our performance together.   Clare Howick, soloist
7   Outstanding achievement yesterday. Excellent concert and to produce it under the pressure of 'touring' was remarkable. We really enjoyed it.   Dave W.
7   Great selections, superbly played and conducted, and all on top of the change of venue.   K.R.

6   Amazing selection of music, including a non-famous piece which was very good, as well as some superb playing! Would recommend.   Michael Vereker, Facebook
6   Thanks for a great concert this afternoon. Best of the five we've been to. Very pleasing to see that your audience is still growing. Looking forward to the next one.   Tim Cook
6   Just two years after its formation, Didcot Concert Orchestra has become an established part of the town's cultural life, its thrice-yearly Sunday afternoon concerts makin an attractive addition to Cornerstone arts Centre's programme...   Nicola Lisle, OX IN A BOX  Read full concert preview

5   In the Prelude and Venusberg Music from Wagner's Tannhäuser, the orchestra was well and truly in its stride, throwing itself into the music with gusto. There was sparkle and conviction, the players clearly relishing this glorious score. One lady in the wind section, while awaiting her entry, was smiling from the sheer enjoyment of it. The singers from Didcot Choral Society impressed too in the Venusberg Music, their voices soaring, wraithlike, offstage. This was a truly magnificent performance of some of Wagner's most stirring music, and showcased the depth of talent in this mainly amateur orchestra. Rimsky-Korsakov's ever-popular Scheherazade ... was another lively and spirited effort, with all those familiar melodies pouring forth in a blaze of glory, each a rediscovered gem. There was some particularly fine solo work from orchestra leader Kate Bailey – one of four professional section leaders – and from the wind and brass sections. But everyone played their part, and this was a joyous, confident and utterly compelling rendition of one of the treasures of the classical music repertoire, bringing the concert to a magnificent finale.   Classical music journalist
5   Congratulations! It was a superb concert and everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm still singing Scheherazade to myself!   Audience member
5   Thank you very much for a wonderful concert today ... the quality of the concert was excellent.   A.L.

4   This is a really fine body of players, expertly lead by conductor Geoff Bushell. The orchestra plays programmes that are both attractive and innovative in a pleasant, comfortable venue – a most enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.   Denise Ham
4   Enjoyed last Sunday, excellent choice of music and very well played.   K.R.

3   I didn't think I liked classical music but I really enjoyed the music in this concert.   J.C.
3   Great concert yesterday – congrats on what you have achieved in setting up the new orchestra.   Audience member
3   It is wonderful that Didcot now has its own symphony orchestra! Its regular programmes are a very satisfying way to spend a late Sunday afternoon, and its third concert offered much to interest and delight. Conductor Geoff Bushell's introductions contextualised the pieces in such a way that unfamiliar pieces by Glinka and Glazunov were, for this layperson, accessible and engaging. Following the interval, Tchaikovsky's Symphony no 5 was a thing of power and beauty. And all a short stroll from the front door – we are fortunate indeed!   Dr Amanda Sandiford

2   Wonderful performance by the Didcot Concert Orchestra tonight.   Ed Vaizey, DCO Honorary President, Twitter, 14 October 2018
2   The Orchestra's next concert will be on 3rd March and will include Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky. On this showing it will be difficult for the music aficionado to justify being elsewhere that day.     Andrew Bell, Daily Info  Read full concert review

1   Congratulations! A brilliant debut. Overall there was great ensemble, great tuning and many individual contributions. The very dry acoustics of the venue worked against the woodwind most of all, so more soloistic playing would help them project their sound. More communication between wind and strings will come as they get to know one another, and get used to playing in this challenging acoustic. The highlight for me was the string pianissimos, and the Brahms, apart from a few technical passages, was a tour de force. Geoff and Jackie have done a great job in putting together an orchestra of this quality and I'm very much looking forward to the Dvorak in October.   S.P.
1   The orchestra successfully combines the performance of professional players with the enthusiasm of amateurs, resulting in a very lively performance. The cello section is particularly impressive producing a great sound. I hope that the current, and planned, expansion of Didcot and its surrounding area, will offer opportunities for both new players and new audiences.   Tim Cook



Here's a list of past and future repertoire for DCO's first 11 concerts, ordered by composer.

Composer Piece Date Concert
Bushell A Didcot Fanfare 11‑02‑2018 01a
Ponchielli Dance of the Hours 11-02-2018 01b
Franck Symphonic Poem: Psyché 11-02-2018 01c
Brahms Symphony no 2 in D 11-02-2018 01d
Coleridge-Taylor Ballade in A minor 14-10-2018 02a
Elgar Cello Concerto (Jacqueline Johnson) 14-10-2018 02b
Herbert Yesterthoughts (Jacqueline Johnson) 14-10-2018 02c
Dvorak Symphony no 6 in D 14-10-2018 02d
Glinka Russlan and Ludmilla Overture 03-03-2019 03a
Glazunov Poème Lyrique 03-03-2019 03b
Mussorgsky Night on the Bare Mountain 03-03-2019 03c
Tchaikovsky Symphony no 5 in E minor 03-03-2019 03d
Reznicek Donna Diana Overture 09-06-2019 04a
Glazunov Serenade no 1 in A 09-06-2019 04b
Bruch Violin Concerto no 1 in G minor (Leo Appel) 09-06-2019 04c
Duparc Danse Lente 09-06-2019 04d
Duparc Extase (orch. Bushell) 09-06-2019 04e
Bizet Symphony in C 09-06-2019 04f
Rachmaninov The Rock - Symphonic Fantasia 06-10-2019 05a
Wagner Tannhauser: Prelude and Venusberg Music (Didcot CS) 06-10-2019 05b
Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade 06-10-2019 05c
Butterworth A Shropshire Lad 08-03-2020 06a
Suk Fairy Tale - suite for large orchestra 08-03-2020 06b
Franck Symphony in D minor 08-03-2020 06c
Prokofiev Symphony no 1 "Classical" 21-06-2020 07a
Lyadov Sorrowful Song 21-06-2020 07b
Dvorak Czech Suite 21-06-2020 07c
Larsson Pastoral Suite 21-06-2020 07d
Beethoven Symphony no 8 in F 21-06-2020 07e
Khachaturian Adagio from Spartacus and Phrygia 04-10-2020 08a
Myaskovsky Symphony no 27 in C minor 04-10-2020 08b
Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition (orch. Ravel) 04-10-2020 08c
Wagner Parsifal: Prelude 28-02-2021 09a
Strauss, Richard Four Last Songs (Mary Pope) 28-02-2021 09b
Dvorak Hussite Overture 28-02-2021 09c
Tchaikovsky Sleeping Beauty highlights 28-02-2021 09d
Franck Les Éolides 20-06-2021 10a
Fauré Pélleas et Mélisande 20-06-2021 10b
Vaughan Williams Wasps Overture 20-06-2021 10c
Debussy Prelude a l'après-midi d'un faune 20-06-2021 10d
Brahms Serenade no 1 20-06-2021 10e
Saint Saëns Phaéton 03-10-2021 11a
Hanson, Howard Symphony no 2 "Romantic" 03-10-2021 11b
Goldmark Sakuntala Overture 03-10-2021 11c
Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture 03-10-2021 11d


Conductor & Musical Director
Geoff Bushell
Didcot, Oxfordshire

Geoff Bushell, Conductor and Musical Director, Didcot Concert Orchestra
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