Many of us have enjoyed the pleasure of an evening spent listening to the Stamford Orchestra in Altrincham’s Market House. The relaxed ambience of the Market House and the opportunity to buy a glass of wine or beer to drink during the performance makes for a refreshingly informal evening of classical music. Have a look here at a video report on a concert last year from 'That's Manchester'.
The emergence of the Stamford Orchestra three years ago has certainly made a welcome addition to Altrincham’s cultural scene. The establishment of the orchestra by local musicians, Tom Davey and Andrew Pettitt, coincided with the regeneration of the market area and the pair, in search of a venue, approached Nick Johnson of the Market House. The concerts in the Market House have been highly successful fund raisers for various charities. Typically, about £1 800 to £2 000 is raised and beneficiaries have included MacMillan Cancer Support, the Nepal earthquake, Barnardo’s, UNICEF, Syria Relief, Music for Kenya and the Market House’s own favourite charity Reverse Rett.
A bird's eye view of the orchestra performing in Altrincham Market House
Most of the musicians playing with the orchestra, particularly the strings section, are from the Hallé. Andrew and Tom both play with the Hallé themselves; Andrew as a freelance oboist and Tom as principal cor anglais. This involvement dictates the performance day for the orchestra as Monday as this is the Hallé’s day off. This begs the question- why do they do it?! Surely even musicians need a day off? The answer is, of course, for the love of music!
The small original ensemble has now developed into an orchestra of fifty plus members and has found a second venue - St Peter’s Church in Hale. Andrew and Tom have received a grant from Trafford Housing Trust which means that they can now cover the expenses of the musicians involved, allowing them to call on a wider range of players and instruments. This in turn enables them to perform a wider repertoire. It still isn’t a money -making venture. If all the tickets for the St Peter’s events are sold, the orchestra will break even. If not, they have the grant as a cushion and won’t be out of pocket personally!
Tom Davey conducts the orchestra
This cash injection also means that Andrew and Tom can now choose music that is still in copyright and, therefore, incurs a performance fee. Copyright lasts for the composer’s lifetime plus 75 years, making it expensive to play many pieces. The pair are currently putting together a season for both venues with a plan to perform Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto on the 22nd May. The concerto will be performed by Sergio Costello-Lopez, a Spanish clarinettist who recently joined the Hallé.
February the 25th will see two performances at St Peter’s Church in Hale. The afternoon performance at 3.30pm is a family concert and will include a family friendly performance of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ suitable for all ages. The audience will be introduced to different instruments and might even get the opportunity to conduct the orchestra!
The evening performance at 7.30pm will include Mozart’s Don Giovanni Overture and Symphony No.35 ‘Haffner’ plus Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf narrated by Simon Royce and conducted by Tom Davey.
Tickets can be purchased here but don’t delay as they are selling out quickly! Andrew is also looking for bookings from companies to perform at dinners and for potential sponsors for concerts. Find out more on the Orchestra’s Facebook page here.
The beautiful images above were taken by Altrincham based Helen Mary Images. Find her Facebook page here.