2017 marked the year in which the HOECCO orchestra has been giving public orchestral concerts for 100 years!
We present here the exciting news about concerts which took place in 2017 to celebrate the orchestra's Centenary year. We held 6 concerts during the year, in March, June, September, October and December. Some of them had themes around the music to be played.
The Durrell Concert
We began the celebration of our Centenary Year on the 25th March with a concert in aid of the Gerald Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. We had a magnificent audience in the Coventry Central Hall of over 400 people and all proceeds were donated to the Trust, the total amount raised for the charity being £3000. We were honoured by the presence of Gerald Durrell's widow Lee Durrell at the concert to explain a little about the work carried out to prevent wildlife from becoming extinct. We were also delighted to have present Milo Parker, who plays the role of the young Gerald Durrell in the ITV series The Durrells, and he and Lee shared the narration which occurs between movements of the Durrell Suite. The words are expertly taken from Gerald's own books, and the suite ends with a splendid choral work. All the music in the concert was themed around Nature and Wildlife and we had a choir including children from local Coventry schools to sing the three choral pieces. One such piece was commissioned by the orchestra and St Barbara's Church, Coventry, and followed the theme of protecting the earth and its natural beauty. Its title is "Be Still and Listen for the Earth is Singing" and is an encouragement for children to take notice of the beauty of the earth. This concert was judged by all involved to have been a resounding success for the orchestra as it began its Centenary Year.
Testimonials. Here are a few comments from some members of the audience and one from a choir member:
"With my wife, daughter and her partner we attended the Durrell concert last night. What a wonderful occasion. I was not familiar with the music but found it very easy to listen to having been so beautifully played. The encore piece with the choir was particularly stirring. Thank you for a special evening."
"I would like to say how much I enjoyed your wonderful concert last Saturday. Everything exceeded my expectations. The choice of music, the fantastic choirs and the excellent performance by the orchestra combined to make the evening an unforgettable experience. Congratulations and Well Done!"
"I have been singing in choirs since I was 11 years old (a long time!) but Saturday night was a GOLD MEDAL performance never to be forgotten."
"The Durrell Suite was fantastic and that wall of sound was incredible. Congratulations on a fabulous concert!"
"I loved it! It is too easy for an orchestra/choir balance to get out of kilter, so I was amazed and thoroughly impressed by the way you all fitted together into such a homogenous musical unit."
Our grateful thanks go to Derek Lawrence for kindly providing funding towards the preparation and supply of the programmes for the Durrell Concert.
Our second concert was a private concert given at the National Funeral Exhibition held at Stoneleigh Park. The music was chosen to be the same as that for a concert given by the orchestra in 1985 and was a good selection of light classical, music from films, and theme tunes. The venue had acoustics that were very challenging for the orchestra, but our conductor Mark was very pleased with the result. The audience members were very welcoming and the organisers were so pleased with our performance that they are hoping to book us for another exhibition in the future..
Preparing for the Summer
Concert number three was given in St James Church, Fletchamstead, just off the Fletchamstead Highway. As it was only three days after our previous concert, we played again the same programme. This is the first time the orchestra has played here and the venue was really good. We hope to be invited back again some time in the future, now that the audience who attended know what we are capable of playing.
The Precinct Concert
The concert on September 10th was once again back at the Coventry Lower Precinct after an absence in 2016 and featured a programme presenting a number of our favourite selections and pieces. This seemed to go down well with the audience, who clapped and cheered very enthusiastically each piece. There were no tickets needed for this concert, it was free music to listen to while shopping. Due to space restrictions at the last minute, we turned from our usual orientation by 180 degrees to face the closed end of the Lower Precinct, rather than towards the upper end which opens out to the Upper Precinct. Although the acoustics seemed to be more challenging for orchestra members, the crowd seemed to be more comfortable with this, and we managed to fill three sides of balconies for most of the concert. One of the biggest challenges was getting hold of suitable chairs, and getting them transported to the playing area. We give grateful thanks to the Coventry Methodist Central Hall for the loan of their chairs, the Coventry Transport Museum for the loan of a suitable van, the security staff of the Lower Precinct for their help in clearing the area and setting up, and to all those members of the orchestra who assisted with a quite complex operation to get all the setting up and clearing down activities completed in good time.
The Transport Concert
Our October concert was at our usual venue of the Coventry Central Hall on the 11th and was arranged to be a multimedia concert centred around the theme of "Transport and Heritage within Coventry". It was in the presence of senior members of our sponsors, The Heart of England Co-operative Society, and various local dignitaries including the deputy Lord Mayor of Coventry. During the items played, the projector was used to provide pictures and videos on the large screen of the Hall. The audience enjoyed these but not many members of the orchestra saw what was going on behind them! Our last piece featured the music and video of the count down and introduction to the films in the Thunderbirds series and was well received. Our grateful thanks go to the Central Hall for allowing the use of their equipment and to Mark Wooton, our Music Director, for all the hard work he put into finding and preparing suitable material with which to illustrate our playing. We also had work on the transport theme generated by children of Coventry and presented in the main foyer, making extensive use of recyclable plastic and cardboard. An excellent display!
The Christmas Concert
The last concert of our Centenary Year was the Christmas one on December 9th, given at the hall of St Francis of Assisi in Kenilworth. The proceeds of this concert were shared between the Laura Centre charity (http://thelauracentre.org.uk/), and our own orchestra funds to help cover the costs of putting on the special concerts of this year. We told Father Christmas about the concert and he very kindly made an appearance, to the obvious delight of both old and young in the audience! The hall was full to capacity with extra chairs having to be provided after the start of the concert. In the second half we had the audience singing along to some well known favourite Christmas songs and carols.
It has been an amazing year, with many successful concerts for which the total amount raised for charity has far exceeded any year in recent history. We have also had several large audiences to our concerts, and we hope many of those who came will choose to come and hear us in 2018. All the current members of the orchestra have enjoyed the Centenary Year immensely and like to think that those who founded the first public concert would have been extremely proud of what we have achieved in carrying on the good work which they started in 1917. The local Co-operative Society has been involved with the orchestra since its very beginnings and to this day continues to provide excellent support to the orchestra, for which our grateful thanks are publicly recorded.
Here's to the next 100 years!
We acknowledge with grateful thanks the following organisations who have generously helped us to fund our Centenary Year celebrations: