About Us

Friends &

Season Tickets



Contact Us

Home Concerts Outreach AboutUs Friends Gallery Links ContactUs

Next Concert

Brahms: Tragic Overture

Brahms: Piano Concerto No 2 in Bb major

Soloist: Simon Callaghan

Brahms: Symphony No 2 in D major

Saturday, 9th March 2024

Tickets are £18.  Under 25s free.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or reserved in advance by either ‘phoning 01206 271128 or emailing

Philippa Barton, our leader, is our soloist in ‘The Lark Ascending’ by Vaughan Williams. Philippa leads a busy and varied life as a freelance violinist, leading ensembles, such as the Kings Chamber Orchestra, and Essex, Colchester, and City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestras.  She plays all around the country and further afield with other orchestras.

As a soloist, Philippa’s repertoire includes concerti by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Bruch, Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi.

  Philippa is passionate about working with musicians of all ages, leading educational workshops, chamber music groups, coaching for various youth and non-professional orchestras, and teaching individuals, privately and at Felsted School. She loves to guide students in discovering their own musical voice and finding out how to express it.

Her own education was at the Royal College of Music, studying with Dona Lee Croft and Trevor Williams. Shortly after leaving college, she spent several years playing with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, before returning to London to continue with her freelance career.

Vaughan Williams termed the ‘Lark Ascending’ a “pastoral romance for orchestra”.  The composer loved collecting folk melodies, and these are included in this music, which also reflects the poem, ‘The Lark Ascending’, by George Meredith.

Vaughan Williams worked on ‘The Lark Ascending’ prior to the start of the First World War.  He went for a week’s holiday in Margate at that time and was able to see ships engaged in preparatory fleet exercises.  A small boy saw the composer making notes and, thinking he was writing down a secret code, informed a police officer, who promptly arrested the composer.

The Lark Ascending is very popular and has been number one in the Classic FM Hall of Fame nine times since 1996.  In 2023 it was rated no 2 in the ‘Hall of Fame’ while our opening piece ‘Finlandia’ by Sibelius was no 25!

Finlandia was composed for the Finnish Press Pension Celebration of 1899, which, in effect, supported the freedom of the Finnish Press.  At that time there was increasing censorship from the Russian Empire. To avoid censorship, ‘Finlandia’ had to be given alternative names when played in concerts.  One example is ‘Happy Feelings at the awakening of Finnish Spring’.

Contrasting with the popularity of ‘The Lark Ascending’ and ‘Finlandia’, the first performance of the comic opera, ‘Bartered Bride’, with music by Smetana, was poorly attended and not well received. This was partly due to the timing of the performance. Also, the day was very hot and audience members did not wish to sit in a stuffy theatre. The opera is set in a country village. The story shows how true love prevails over efforts by others to arrange a marriage. The opera was revised several times and eventually became a worldwide success. Although the famous overture was composed before any of the other music was written, it sets the mood of the opera.

Dvořak’s Symphony no 9  ‘From the New World’ is another popular work, rated at no 17 in the 2023 Classic FM Hall of Fame.  Written while Dvořak was living and working in New York City, the symphony reflects the composer’s admiration of African American spirituals.  If you listen carefully you might hear in the second melody of the first movement music similar to ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’.

Mail: Tickets

Smetana: Overture – The Bartered Bride

Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending

Sibelius: Finlandia

Dvořák: Symphony No 9 in E minor ‘From the New World’

Soloist: Philippa Barton