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Gloucestershire Business News

Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra celebrates 50 years of music making

Where: Cheltenham Town Hall

When: Saturday, June 29, 7.30pm

A concert in Cheltenham Town Hall on June 29 will mark 50 years of successful music making by the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra.

Originally formed by local dentist the late Douglas Smith, as a chamber group to play Mozart piano concertos in his home, the orchestra's first concert was in Barnwood Church in January 1969.

By 1970, under the new name of The Cheltenham Sunday Players and the baton of conductor Mark Foster, it started giving small scale concerts in churches all round Gloucestershire, as well as taking music to Llandrindod Wells, Monmouth and Brecon.

As the orchestra grew both in size and reputation, it started to play in larger venues such as Malmesbury, Pershore and Tewkesbury Abbeys, Cirencester Parish Church and 'Newlands' (the 'Cathedral' of the Forest) and became the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra in 1990.

With the arrival of conductor David Curtis in 1999, the CSO continued to embrace new musical challenges and has matured into an ensemble capable of playing a wide range of music from the Classical and Romantic symphony orchestra repertoires.

It also makes forays into other genres, as when it accompanies local choral societies, or the memorable occasion when it performed with Rick Wakeman and his band at The Centaur in 2013.

Its principal concert venues are the Pittville Pump Room and Cheltenham Town Hall, with occasional excursions out of county, and it has made several successful foreign tours to Cheltenham's twin towns of Annecy and Göttingen, as well as having been heard on both Radio 3 and ClassicFM.

Made up of some 75 committed and experienced amateur, student and professional musicians, including some original players, the CSO is characterised by its dedicated and loyal members, who enjoy the challenges of making music together.

The music being performed at the concert on June 29 is representative of both the CSO's beginnings and its current achievements, when soloist Daniel Lebhardt will perform Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 19 in F, K459, which was played by Douglas Smith at that first concert in 1969.

The orchestra will also play the Prelude to Act 1 of Lohengrin by Wagner and Rachmaninov's majestic and intensely emotional Symphony No. 2 in E minor; the complete programme being a fitting tribute to 50 years of successful music making.

The orchestra is looking forward to welcoming both new and existing audience members to help celebrate this landmark anniversary.

Tickets are £17 and £14, all reserved. Students 50% and children 15 and under are free. Tickets are available from the Town Hall box office on 0844 576 2210,  and at the door. For more information, see the CSO website  or Facebook page 

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