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Music, Spread Thy Voice


Music, Spread Thy Voice is a short overture I recently wrote for The Royal Orchestral Society, of which I have been the President for the last few years. (The title comes from Handel's Solomon.) The orchestra premiered it on Sunday, under Timothy Redmond, in a concert celebrating their 150th anniversary season. As mentioned before on this site, an 150 year-history represents extreme longevity in the symphony orchestra world. It makes ROS London's longest continuously-manned orchestra, professional or amateur; and we think, only exceeded in the UK by the Hallé, RLPO and Huddersfield Philharmonic.


ROS were founded by the music-loving second son of Queen Victoria, Prince Alfred. The resulting royal links contribute to some amazing historical information which I always enjoy reading about in the orchestra's concert programmes. Rather modestly when listing programme items, legendary figures are mentioned who performed the evening's repertoire with the orchestra in the past. This time, singers Clara Butt and Richard Tauber were deftly referred to; but I wonder if either of them would have sung so beautifully as Janice Watson, the actual soprano in this concert.


The concert ended with Pomp and Circumstance No.1 - no surprise that Elgar himself had once conducted the ROS in his own piece. This was overall a beautifully planned evening, making total sense of of an Edwardian-style works list consisting of three overtures, three arias, a symphony (Dvorak 6 - what a great piece to get stuck into) and a famous march. The vigour of (some of) our amateur orchestras is one of the hopeful signs in music today. ROS, like other such groups I know of, has waiting lists for prospective members in most sections. So, no shortage of good, eligible players. But plenty of concern, as everywhere, about funding and where it's going to come from in the next five, ten, let alone 150 years.


PICTURED - St John's Smith Square, our relaxing venue on a twilit evening.


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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

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