The City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra (CRSO) was founded in 1969 by Bill Holtby as a reaction to the lack of opportunities in the Medway towns for classical musicians to play together. The group was initially a string orchestra known as Rochester Arts Orchestra, and their first conductor was James Clinch, a skilled oboe player. Clinch sadly passed away at the beginning of this year, and their Spring Concert at the Central Theatre, Chatham was dedicated to his memory.
The CRSO played four pieces at their concert. After a brief introduction from Jerome Sadler, pianist and chairman of the orchestra, the audience were treated to a performance of Mahler's Blumine, a soaring piece of music which was arranged in such a way that synthesized instrumentation could fill the gaps of the orchestra where necessary.
The second piece of the evening was Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 Op. 15, a powerful piece where Sadler took the lead on piano. He was fascinating to watch – here was a man who was not just playing the music, he was feeling it too. The first half of the concert came to a close to well-deserved rapturous applause.
After a short interval, the second half of the show opened with Matthew Brown's Beverly Meadow. Brown is a Kent-based composer and violinist who studied composition at Canterbury Christ Church University. The CRSO often supports local emerging talent by showcasing new work at their concerts. Beverly Meadow is a real place, in Canterbury, and Brown's music really set the scene and cast a calm, soothing atmosphere across the theatre. It is a piece he should be proud of, and it sat comfortably in between Brahms and Beethoven, the CRSO's final piece at the Central.
Judging by the applause in the theatre, everyone had a fantastic evening. Members of the orchestra waited by the stairs to meet their friends and fans and there was a real buzz in the air. I spoke to the lady sitting next to me, who had never been to one of their concerts before and had just stumbled across the event online; she was delighted to have access to classical music on her doorstep. It was a wonderful example of how music can bring a community together and I have no doubt that the CRSO will always be able to find an audience here.
City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra is an Arts Award Supporter. You can see their profile here.