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Save Our Sinfonia

Posted on May 21 2012 at 10:52:57

The Midland Sinfonia

An orchestra founded in Alvechurch has launched an appeal to ensure its survival, writes fundraiser Keith Woolford.

“If music be the food of love, play on…”

I must say that my first encounter with The Midland Sinfonia was more serendipitous than by actual design.

With the prospect of a lacklustre evening of TV ahead, my eye was drawn to a concert of classical music being held in Alvechurch.

By now a keen listener of the great composers, courtesy of the long-forgotten fortnightly records published by Fabbri & Partners (13s 11d, as it happens), and the occasional trip to nearby Fairfield Halls, Croydon, the appetite had been duly whetted.

Arriving a tad late was to be my undoing. While waiting outside for the piece being played to finish, I talked with one of the volunteers and slowly became involved in TMS.
Like similarly sized orchestras, we rely on an active core of enthusiasts working behind the scenes so the audience can enjoy each performance by the professional musicians.

Also, like other orchestras, we are unfortunately facing new challenges in affording the high standard of concerts with which we are now associated.

Funding is by way of our generous patrons and donors, by local businesses and by grant giving institutions as the door revenue goes absolutely nowhere.

When times are difficult, the first to suffer are the arts. And, of course, that sporting thingy in the capital this summer has had an impact.

There is much goodwill for our activities, but we need to balance any optimism for the future with a practical response.

Quoting from Twelfth Night earlier seems particularly apt.

With the launch of our TMS Appeal, we are urgently seeking new funding opportunities, pledges and ideas to allow us to continue.

There is a very real danger this particular aspect of quality live music, founded in 1995 by former Alvechurch resident Nigel Morley, will disappear locally should our pleas go unheeded.

Almost ten years ago we achieved charity status and in the scheme of things I would agree there can be more important issues in the world asking for those hard-earned savings and the meagre profits to be spent.

However, we do believe that TMS does contribute and enhance the precious leisure time moments in the community – from free concerts to promoting the young musicians.
TMS deserves a larger platform. Then again, I would say that, of course.

If you can help our efforts or would like further information about The Midland Sinfonia and the TMS Appeal, please contact me or see our website.

Keith Woolford, TMS Fundraiser
0121 445 4619
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
http://www.midlandsinfonia.co.uk

Pictured above: Nigel Morley leading The Midland Sinfonia Orchestra at St Laurence Church, Alvechurch.


A special treat on the doorstep

The Village enjoys a long-overdue night with The Midland Sinfonia

It must be 15 years since I first thought, “Oh, I must go to a Midland Sinfonia performance.” After all, it is quite a privilege to have a professional orchestra based in your village and they really should be applauded and supported.

I shouldn’t have left it so long: the “Favourite Classics” evening of music by Schubert and Mozart last month was uplifting and featured some very fine playing, particularly by guest clarinettist Keith Slade.

And even for those of us unused to spending too long sitting in St Laurence’s, Alvechurch, the generous, warm acoustics of the church offset the discomfort of the harsh, wooden pews.

Before this final performance of the season for an audience of more than 100 people, the Sinfonia’s music director, Richard Laing, made an upbeat announcement about the orchestra’s future.

A 2012-2013 season was assured, he said, despite financial difficulties. Those in the know looked pleased, if a little surprised, as there had been dark warnings that this could be the orchestra’s last performance.

Even though the ship wasn’t yet sinking, the orchestra played on with an energy that brought vividly to life Schubert’s Symphony No 5, written when the composer was 19 years old and infatuated with the music of Mozart.

We were then treated to Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, featuring the award-winning guest, Slade, whose extensive experience includes the CBSO and BBC Philharmonic.

His clarinet sang as we bounced through his cheering rendition, with the second movement featuring some very popular and recognisable riffs.

After the interval, Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro bustled along as the characters prepare for the wedding, before a reduced orchestra treated us to Mozart’s exhilarating Symphony No 29, written when he was just 18.

The evening was well worth the £12 (or less for those who booked in advance) and as we filtered off to watch recordings of the Champions League Final, I promised myself I would return during the next season.

And if this is not to be The Midland Sinfonia’s final season, it is to be hoped others will also brave the pews to hear something special on their doorstep.

RP

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