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Year Ending 31st December 2007

City of Sunderland Millennium Orchestral Society


Established October 1999. Charity Registration Number 1082431

    Rossini may have been a fine composer, but he was also a big man with a foul temper. He was noted for taking sopranos by the throat, and the stories go that he occasionally lifted the leader and flung him bodily across the orchestra if he was not quite happy with musical progress. It therefore pays to get the bowing right, which of course we do with the excellent leadership of David McCourt. He is ably assisted by co‑leader Judith Thompson, who has also conducted the orchestra from time to time.

    The whole standard of Sunderland Symphony Orchestra has improved dramatically. This is shown in a number of ways, not least with the reliability of core players in all sections. It is also helped by a steady influx of young players promoted from the ‘Music for All’ Youth Orchestra, and the Academy.

    But another positive feature in recent months has been the addition of older and experienced players who have joined our ranks. We welcome as such Nicola Moore (second violin), who we also congratulate on the birth of a baby daughter Elizabeth; Adrian and Carol Johnson (double bass and first violin); William Angus (also double bass) whom we congratulate on his recent marriage; and Cedric Sharpe (trumpet), brother‑in‑law of our Musical Director Rupert Hanson, and Chairman of ‘Music for All’ which organisation we are proud to work with so closely. Congratulations to Donna Checksfield (clarinet) and Jane Boyd  (cello), who got married. Layla Buckham, whom I am privileged to have as my desk‑partner in the first violins, is to be lauded on obtaining such high grades in her end of school exams that she has been accepted into Cambridge to read medicine. She has taken the brave decision to have a gap year in India and Thailand working with medical missions voluntarily. The Minster has given her some funding, but we are pleased that the Palm Court Ensemble of the SSO has undertaken at least one concert to assist her financially; a number of individuals in the orchestra have also generously donated.

    Rupert will give more detail on concerts, but following our success in the Sage Gateshead, and a Television and Radio documentary in the Stadium of Light, when a number of our more photogenic members were featured with Niall Quinn, the Sunderland Football Club manager no less, we have now performed in the Stadium, albeit with some rather rain‑spattered firsts and cellos, and first-rate soloists. We also had a highly successful Last Night of the Proms Concert in the Empire Theatre, alongside the Singalong Chorus and again brilliant soloists, including our own leader. Two major concerts were held in the Minster, a well attended Christmas Concert with the Sunderland Minster Choir, and under the auspices of ‘Music for Al’l, a Viennese style New Year's Day Concert. Again the standard was high, although I doubt if the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra who inspired this idea feel under any threat from competition.

    A few thank‑you's are due, which is always risky as someone will be wrongly overlooked. At the centre of our appreciation are our audiences, friends and supporters. Our wider identity is ably represented by CoSMOS Trustees Win Lundgren and Mark Greenfield. Whilst everyone who makes a concert and rehearsal possible needs to be acknowledged, particularly those who work behind the scenes, special mention must be made of our Stage Manager, Brian Naisby, and all the others who undertake the onerous and heavy task of staging, especially when tiers have to be erected. We appreciate too the outgoing Committee, especially those who are not standing again. Thus we thank Sarah White (clarinet), who is always verdant in the ideas department, and Sheila Brownlee (flute), who undertook the most difficult job on the committee - Treasurer, which she fulfilled with her attention to detail and selfless effort. We also say farewell to Heather Wear (clarinet) who for over seven years has served tirelessly as Membership Secretary. It is with pleasure I give you these small tokens of our appreciation.

    The lion's share of praise must go as always to our beloved Musical Director, Rupert Hanson. Despite recent ill health, we are delighted to see him back amongst us and he continues to inspire, lead, and establish this Sunderland Symphony Orchestra to heights that we could only have dreamed about in the past. Thank you Maestro.

(Rev) Stephen D. Hazlett.

Musical  Director's  Report

    During the year, members met for rehearsal forty five times, and eight major concerts were given. Venues included The Sage, Gateshead; The Stadium of Light, Sunderland; The Minster, Sunderland; The Empire Theatre, Sunderland.

    Members of the orchestra gave a number of recitals as a string quartet, the ‘Salon Orchestra’, and a number of woodwind and vocal ensembles.

    Eleven new members joined during the year.

Rupert Hanson.

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Copyright © 2010 D E Mills