Chairman's Letter 2012/13
Dear FSO Member,
Whether you are in the grip of Olympic fever or journeying to places where sunshine is more than a distant memory or simply resting at home, I hope you are all having an enjoyable summer and are looking forward to the start of the new season. This time last year, I outlined five key priorities for the Orchestra in the face of a bleak economic outlook. Not much has changed in the economy but we have made some good progress against each of the key priorities and, at the start of a new season, I thought it was worth reflecting on where we are:
- Having full, high-quality membership in all sections: we have recruited quite a number of new members and will be selecting a new Principal Clarinet during the year. Nonetheless, there are still vacancies in the string sections and we need to continue to seek out potential new recruits.
- Performing exciting and challenging works with ambitious orchestrations: with the expense of four theatre-style venues, the 2012/13 season needed to include some popular works to attract good audiences. Nonetheless we have interspersed these with some less well-known and exciting works by composers such as Ireland, Britten, Kodaly and Lutoslawski. There will be opportunities to think about performance of further challenging works when we start planning the 2013/14 season.
- Engaging high-quality soloists: last season we enjoyed the passionate and charismatic performances of Irina Lyakhovskaya, Cristina Di Bernardo, Silvia Vicario and Rebecca Hodgetts and, in the coming season, we have the exciting prospect of accompanying Bartholomew Lafollette and Alexandra Wood, two up-and-coming and highly talented string players.
- Playing in venues that do justice to the musical quality of the orchestra: in the coming season we are experimenting with a new venue, Camberley Theatre, and revisiting Farnham Maltings for a more conventional concert than last year’s film. All our venues this year have good front-of-house facilities for our audience and raked seating allowing everyone to appreciate the sights and sounds of the Orchestra.
- Having a growing audience spanning all ages: our last three performances during the 2011/12 season were particularly well attended and the audience included many people who would not normally come to our concerts, including a significant number of children and young people. Whilst this was encouraging, the challenge for us in 2012/13 is to build on the new contacts and continue to develop the audience. In support of this we will be staging a family concert in May 2013; more details will follow.
Much of the progress we have made throughout the past year has been possible because of the generous support of our Friends, Patrons and Sponsors, to whom we are most grateful. At the AGM, Robin outlined how we had turned a projected £5,000 loss last year into a modest profit and, with more expensive venues, emphasised that we need to maintain this positive financial performance during the new season. As a Committee, we are well aware that there is no room for complacency and that we need to maintain the financial support base on which the FSO is so dependent. Please continue to do your best to recruit new members, sell tickets, support Elspeth in publicising the Orchestra and encourage friends and family to become Friends or Patrons.
As we turn our thoughts to the new season, our excitement is tempered by the uncertainty surrounding Mark’s illness and the difficulties for both him and the FSO in planning ahead. As I write, I have no further news of Mark’s condition but I need to emphasize once again how grateful we are to Ben Palmer for stepping in to conduct our first concert. I will communicate further news whenever possible.
Turning to the programme for 2012/13, I am already excited at the prospect of the variety of music we will be playing: from trusty favourites to less well-known works; a baroque gem and some classical and romantic masterpieces, all the way to twentieth century classics. To round it all off we are not only meeting some new and gifted guest soloists but we also have performances by our own talented “home-grown” musicians (Tessa, Beverley and Alison) to look forward to. I can’t wait!
Our first rehearsal will begin at precisely 7.45 pm on 6th September and I would be grateful if you could make it a priority to be there on time. I know it will be exciting to see each other after the summer break but please also try to be disciplined about not talking during rehearsals. After all, we don’t want to appear unprofessional to Ben!
I look forward to seeing you all as we set out on our 91st season. Let’s hope we can have as much musical fun as we did in our 90th!
Farnborough Symphony Orchestra