Big symphonic sounds

TONY COOPER Big symphonic sounds will be heard at the King's Lynn Corn Exchange on Sunday afternoon from the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra in a concert which also offers an opportunity to hear the young Belgian violinist, Jolente De Maeyer, play the Mendelssohn concerto.

TONY COOPER

Big symphonic sounds will be heard at the King's Lynn Corn Exchange on Sunday, March 12 (3.30pm) from the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra in a concert which also offers an opportunity to hear the young Belgian violinist, Jolente De Maeyer, play the Mendelssohn concerto.

The concert, however, opens in grand style with a performance of Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier suite and ends with the ninth symphony of Dimitry Shostakovich, a refreshing and lyrical piece written in celebration of the end of the second world war.

The orchestra goes from strength to strength under its semi-retired conductor, James Stobart, who has been the NSO's music director and guiding force for the past 11 years enabling it to become of the UK's leading amateur orchestras.

The NSO (founded in 1971) has developed from a chamber orchestra into a full-size symphony orchestra playing large-scale works. It is popular in west Norfolk and has attracted over 300 subscribers to its Friends' scheme and its Sunday symphony series at the Corn Exchange are now firmly established in the concert calendar with many of them selling out.

Stobart has taken considerable care over the years to expand the orchestra's repertoire while always bearing in mind the need to perform approachable and entertaining pieces. Another one of the orchestra's policies is to engage top young soloists who are at (or near) the beginning of their careers. Violinist De Maeyer - born in Brussels in 1984 - falls into this category.

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She began playing both the violin and piano at the age of four. By the time she was six, she took part in several national and international competitions, becoming the youngest-ever laureate of the Jong Tenuto competition.

She has appeared as soloist with many orchestras including the Kempisch Youth Orchestra, the Flemish Radio Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic of Flanders and the St Petersburg State Academic Capella Symphony Orchestra. And she regularly gives concerts in her native country and recently performed with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in Belgian's Queen Elizabeth Hall.

The NSO has a loyal and dedicated bunch of players and in their 35th season there's still one in the ranks from day one - Sheila Nunn - a valued member of the cello section.

Next in the list of long-standing players is Malcolm Nye, who has played clarinet since 1976 as well as being the orchestra's librarian.

He is quickly followed by Marlen Moss-Eccardt (viola) who joined just one year later, while Chris Finch started as a violinist with the orchestra in 1981 and then occupied the leader's chair for 15 years. On retiring from this position, he soon found himself back in the hot seat as principal double-bass where he seems to be more than enjoying himself!

Sheri Rutland is another versatile player who has moved from one section to another since joining the orchestra. Starting as a cellist in 1982 when she was still at school, she continues to play her cello elsewhere, but can now be seen in action behind the timps. So these five players between them have given about 140 years' service to the orchestra; it's more than a life's sentence!

And there are currently five members whose children have played in the orchestra at the same time as their parents. It's a truly family and community-inspired set up.

t Tickets £12 and £8. The box office is on 01553 764864. Further details about the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra at www.nso-uk.co.uk

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