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The Orchestra's History


The orchestra dates back to 1971 when Andrea King and Kay Hall were on the platform at Haywards Heath Station waiting for their trains to arrive (see photo left - re-staged).  Although they did not know each other at that time, one of them was carrying a violin and from that they began a conversation.  They bemoaned that lack of an orchestra in the area and from that meeting,The Mid-Sussex Sinfonia was formed and gave its first concert in Autumn 1971.  The conductor was Edward Warren (then Andrea’s husband).  He played bassoon in the English National Opera Orchestra from Monday to Saturday; and therefore Sunday was the only free day – so concerts always took place on that day.  The leader was Martin Cannings and other players from the first year were: Keith Brooks (clarinet), Angela Tennick (oboe), Alison Wills (bassoon), Alan Newnham (french horn), Tom King (double bass), Peter Ramon (flute).  Concerts were given in Oathall School at Haywards Heath: at that time, Haywards Heath and its schools were part of the County of East Sussex.  Programmes were made up with pieces from the classical and romantic eras; and sometimes with one of Edward's English National Opera colleagues coming along to play a concerto.  There was Brian Wightman (bassoon) and a clarinettist, John Denman with a brilliant performance of a Spohr clarinet concerto.

The orchestra made occasional visits to other local towns and as the orchestra became known, members were often asked to play for choral and operatic societies and this helped to publicise the orchestra’s activities.  At Christmas, singing groups joined for some very happy concerts; and Ed Warren had a gift for arranging Christmas meoldies to produce a novelty piece.  There were social evenings (and jumble sales (to raise funds!) with one remarkable party in Kay Hall’s lovely garden (then at Bolney).  Someone happened to bring parts for one of the Mozart Wind Octets; and eight players also happened to have their instruments with them; so that the sound of Mozart’s ‘Harmoniemusic’ floated through the evening air - as originally intended by the composer.Eventually, it was time for Ed Warren to move on and in the subsequent years, several conductors took over the baton including, Jonathan Del Mar, Derek Watmough, Peter Fender, Ian McCrae, and currently Andy Meyers.

Kay Hall and Andrea King
The Sinfonia 1971
An early Sinfonia concert
18th Birthday Concert at Clair Hall
20th Anniversary Concert, The Hawth
25th Anniversary at The Dolphin
Tour to France and Belgium 2001
Sinfonia President Jack Brymer
Presidents The Alberni Quartet
Conductor Edward Warren 1971-77
Conductor Jonathan Del Mar 1978-84
Conductor Derek Watmough 1989

From the Mid Sussex Sinfonia archives

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