18th Birthday Celebration Triumph! - West Park Church, Sunderland, 13th October, 2018
Sunderland Symphony Orchestra “comes of age”, supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts Award.
Sunderland Symphony Orchestra celebrated its 18th Birthday on Saturday night with a spectacular programme of orchestral works reflecting the achievements of the orchestra since its establishment in 2000 supported by Sunderland City Council.
“The idea was to celebrate the Millennium with an initiative of real and lasting cultural and educational value for the people of Sunderland”, said Mark Greenfield, Orchestra Founder and Vice-President.
The varied and triumphant programme of orchestral music selected by the newly appointed Musical Director David Milner and admirably led by the excellent Judith Thompson included works from Saint-Saëns, Cole Porter, Tchaikovsky, Johann Strauss, Andrew Lloyd Webber - and a version of Happy Birthday, including wide-ranging musical quotations, composed by Phil Jackson, arranger and trumpet player from the ranks of the orchestra itself.
There was a standing ovation for a powerfully passionate rendition from Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, and rapturous applause for the Finale from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, performed at the orchestra’s first concert in 2000.
Passing the baton to David Milner for his first concert as Musical Director, Paul Judson, received Life Membership of the orchestra from Chairman David Mills.
The concert included adept performances from former players Laura Payne, Flute and Piccolo; Gary Nichol and Stephanie Brown, Horn; Jane Boyd, Cello; and former leader David McCourt, Violin. Many other former players attended as members of an appreciative audience.
Eager to develop new talent, and as a part of SSO’s “Coming of Age” programme supported by Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts and the Sunderland Music Education Hub Together for Children, the orchestra is working closely with the Sunderland Youth Orchestra led by Emma Mapplebeck (also a Cellist with the SSO) to develop music education outreach programmes to Sunderland schools over the next 18 months. The celebratory 18th Birthday concert orchestra players included eighteen year olds Caitlin Williams, Viola; Sarah Blackhall, Clarinet; and two younger violinists.
Over eighteen successful years the orchestra has played more than seventy concerts from its base at West Park Church in Sunderland, and across the wider region. Sunderland Symphony Orchestra, itself a registered charity, has helped to raise money for other charities including the RNLI; and the Lazarus Foundation, supporting children living in poverty.
Attending the eighteenth birthday celebration concert was Honorary Patron, The Right Worshipful Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Lynda Scanlan. The orchestra has always welcomed members from overseas, and as the orchestra’s own birthday present to Mayor Lynda Scanlan, Founder and Vice President Mark Greenfield presented a recording of the orchestra’s performance of “Roker Pier”, a new composition by Malaysian flautist Lawrence Chiu, performed to great acclaim at the orchestra’s summer concert, conducted by Paul Judson.
Commenting on future plans, Chairman David Mills said: “We are coming of age, and we are looking to the future. We’re an open and inclusive voluntary orchestra and we aim to diversify and extend our audience. With the continuing support of Sunderland City Council, Arts Council England, Together for Children, and other sponsors, collaborators and partners to whom we are inordinately grateful, we are planning sure, steady, and sustainable development. Look out for our new website. Anyone sharing our vision can join us. And come along to our Christmas concert with the East Herrington Primary Academy Choir on the 15th December at 4.00 pm!