Concerts of note in the history of the orchestra
|NSSO Concert Programme November 1906|
Fifth Season and note the new name - North Staffordshire Orchestra
|NSSO Concert Programme - January 1908|
Special benefit concert for The North Staffs Royal Infirmary. Boxing Day 1910. With the new name: The North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra.
|NSSO Concert Programme - 26 December 1910|
John Cope Concert
In May 1930 Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd., the pottery manufacturing company, celebrated its bi-centenary with a magnificent Historical Pageant in Hanley Park. The NSSO accompanied the event with John Cope conducting.
|WEDGWOOD PAGEANT 1930 programme cover|
An official film was made of the pageant and here is part of it. You can clearly see Cope conducting, baton in hand, and some of the orchestra players in the foreground. Many thanks go to Ray Johnson MBE of the Staffordshire Film Archive for making the extract from the film available.
The Jubilee Concert - marking the 50th Anniversary of the Orchestra and a remarkable achievement.
|NSSO Concert Programme Jubilee Year 1954|
|NSSO Jubilee Season Review|
Havergal Brian Centenary Concert at St Mark's Church, Shelton
The Queens Silver Jubilee Concert
North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra 75th Anniversary Concert
Many members of the NSSO played in the performance of The Gothic Symphony by Havergal Brian, the local composer. The concert on 21 May 1978, at The Victoria Hall, Hanley, was organised by Paul Shaw and conducted by Trevor Stokes. Details on Wikipedia here> Sentinel Report here>
Soloist Clare McFarlane, BBC Young Musician of the Year, Michael Trowski conducting
90th Birthday Concert conducted by Timothy Redmond and included Symphony No.2 by Mahler - The Resurrection. This was its first performance in Hanley. The drawing of Gustav Mahler on the front cover or the programme was made by Neville Mitchison.
The Millenium Concert - Bizet's Carmen at The Victoria Hall, Hanley, with guests choirs and Timothy Redmond conducting.
More about Timothy Redmond here>
It’s not often that one gets the opportunity to hear a concert performance of a full opera, but that was the feast provided by the North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra, with a talented array of professional soloists, plus a choir consisting of The Barbara Walton Singers; The Ceramic City Choir and The Stone Choral Society, at the Victoria Hall, for the orchestra’s last performance of the 1999 / 2000 season.
“A Fitting Farewell”, The Carmen Concert, by Friends Correspondent
It was an ambitious venture, needing much planning, such as size of stage, booking of solo artists, rehearsal schedules for orchestra and chorus etc.. The fact that owing to illness and unavoidable indisposition, stand-in soloists had to be found finding a third Carmen at very short notice, must have been a real headache. Having lost count of who’s who and the number of changes, I beg the forgiveness of the soloists for not mentioning them by name. To crown it all, on the day of the performance, it was ‘barbecue weather’ ensuring the absence of much potential audience. However, that did little to detract from the enjoyment of the opera. All the soloists were established professional singers of high quality. The opera, being sung in English, also helped greatly in that one was able to follow the plot and dialogue with ease as the tragedy unfolded.
If the performance is good, watching and listening to opera without the scenery is a bit like hearing a play on the radio; one can imagine the setting and so feel part of it. As it progressed, this rendition went a long way to achieving that. To start with, the Overture and opening scene showed the orchestra in fine fettle, really setting the scene and mood of what was to follow.
No fiery, hot blooded, passionate, foot stamping Carmen here, but a willowy, lithesome siren who woos the men gathered round her with her slinky body and voice to match when she tells them, in the ‘Habanera’, that “love obeys no laws”. She also showed great agility of voice in the ‘Seguidilla’ with its tricky intervals, turns and other vocal gymnastics. On the other hand, Micaela, a modest and shy peasant girl, sang her part with a purity of tone when bringing news of Don Jose’s mother. Corporal Morales, Lieutenant Zuniga and Don Jose sang their parts adequately. Jose was at his best in the ‘Flower Song’, which he sang with a touching tenderness.
Carmen was ably supported by her friends, Frasquita and Mercedes. Escamillo, the bullfighter, sang the ‘Toreador’s Song’ with conviction, but with a voice that didn’t quite match. It was the smugglers, Dancairo and Remendado, who introduced a new and refreshing dimension; their dialogue, in broad Yorkshire/Lancashire, gave it a realism that added spice to what was already an enjoyable performance. Throughout the opera, the orchestral accompaniment was extremely good. Tim Redmond took the ‘Aragonaise’ and ‘Bohemian Dance’ at great speed - and the response was immediate and with relish. The choir also gave a lively, disciplined performance with some powerful singing. It was all well rehearsed.
There were two disappointments. The first was the thinness of the audience, not entirely unexpected in view of the weather. Otherwise, a similar venture is worth considering, perhaps at a more suitable part of the season.
The other was the bald statement made to the audience by Mr. Redmond at the end of the interval, that this was his last concert with the North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra as it’s Musical Director. What a pity that say, five minutes could not have been spared for a representative of the orchestra to make a presentation to Mr. Redmond in a way that could have been shared by the audience, including Friends and Patrons of the N.S.S.O. (all of whom are the life-blood of the orchestra) giving them the opportunity to show their deep affection and appreciation to Tim for the sterling work done during his tenure as Conductor, Orchestral Trainer and Musical Director. What is it about secrecy and confidentiality that makes it so fashionable these days? EW
North Staffs Symphony Orchestra - Nov 2011 Rehearsal - Shostakovich Symph No.1 Movement 2. at Wolstanton High School, Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK, with Juan Ortuno conducting.
North Staffs Symphony Orchestra Concert, 22 June 2013 at Wolstanton High School, Newcastle-under-Lyme, UK, with Juan Ortuno conducting Aaron Copland's Billy the Kid Ballet Suite.
Saturday, 1 July 2017, 7.30