Norwich Philharmonic Society celebrates landmark anniversary with an extra special present

Norwich Philharmonic Society's regular keyboard player, Anne Duarte with the new celeste that will d

Norwich Philharmonic Society's regular keyboard player, Anne Duarte with the new celeste that will debut at the Phils 175th Birthday concert in the quintessential piece for the instrument, Tchaikovskys Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from his ballet, The Nutcracker. Photo : Steve Adams. - Credit: Steve Adams

It is a landmark anniversary year for Norwich Philharmonic Society, and so its members have decided to celebrate with an extra special present.

The Norwich Phil has been making music for an impressive 175 years, and to mark the occasion the organisation has had its own celeste specially made for the group.

The instrument, which looks similar to a piano but sounds more like a glockenspiel, was built over six months in Japan. It will make its debut appearance this month at The Phil's 175th Birthday Concert at St Andrew's Hall, in Norwich, in a performance of Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the The Nutcracker ballet. It will be played by Anne Duarte, the orchestra's regular keyboard player.

'We are really thrilled to have this fantastic instrument,' said Michael Nutt, chairman of the orchestra sub-committee.

'It's quite an exotic instrument but it features quite a lot in the repertoire that we play. In the past we have had to hire one from some distance away.'

He said the society was able to buy the Yamaha celeste thanks to a legacy.

'It is very special, it sounds stunning,' he said.

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Norwich Philharmonic Society's first public performance was at the Assembly House in March 1841.

The Phil's 175th Birthday Concert on March 19 will feature both the Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra and the Norwich Philharmonic Chorus. The programme will include music from composers including Verdi, Handel, Elgar, Rossini and more. The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets are sold out but some returns may be available on the door.

Another key moment of Norwich Phil's 175th anniversary season - which is sponsored by Hansells - will be an epic performance of Mahler's 8th Symphony at the Norfolk Showground Arena on May 21 as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

For more about Norwich Phil events, visit

Do you have a Norwich arts story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at

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