Now looking ahead to a dynamic and innovative sixth season, Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra continues to aim high as it takes up residence in its new home at the White Rock Theatre and makes plans for 2021-22.
The current pandemic has created uncertainty and anxiety on a global scale, and many in our local area have suffered a devastating impact on their lives and livelihoods. Amidst this turmoil, many have turned to music and the arts for solace and inspiration. We are fortunate that Hastings has its own professional orchestra; they have not only been working hard to maintain an active music schedule within government guidelines, but they have also been building a network of relationships to enrich the musical life of the local community.
Marcio da Silva, Artistic Director of Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra, is a man with a vision to put Hastings back on the map as a centre of excellence for classical music and it is evident that he is fully prepared to work with determination to fulfil this dream. Last season he secured vital financial support from his audience-base to guarantee the boost of match-funding from The Fairlight Arts Trust. But he did not rest on his laurels once this was secured. Recognising the importance of long-term development, da Silva has welcomed and fostered an amicable new relationship with industrial sponsor Penn Elcom, and their ongoing support has the potential to be transformational.
But complacency is not a da Silva characteristic, and concurrently he has put in the hard graft required to apply for a variety of grants to enable his team to develop new initiatives. All this, of course, whilst successfully delivering last season’s programme of sold-out Covid-secure choral, orchestral, and chamber concerts; song recitals; and online broadcasts; with an opera academy still to come!
Maybe we should not be surprised that da Silva’s drive and leadership, backed by the energy of HPO Orchestra Administrator Helen May, and a strong team of HPO Trustees, has led to exciting projects emerging from the ‘ashes’ of successive lockdowns. Branching out from HPO we now see: HPO Songbirds – a free of charge children’s choir for 5-11-year-olds, which meets weekly; and HPO Connections – the framework for music workshops and concerts to be taken into local Care Homes. We are also delighted to see HPO intermeshing with local community networks, joining the ‘Hub’ of the East Sussex Music Service to run workshops, and increasing their links with local festivals such as that at Etchingham.
But looking at the HPO programme perhaps the most exciting thing on the horizon has been made possible thanks to Arts Council funding. Between 13th July and 14th August HPO are launching HPO Open Doors – seven free of charge events throughout Hastings, Bexhill, and St Leonards. These include indoor evening concerts in the De La War Pavilion, and at Christ Church, St Leonards, and outdoor afternoon concerts at Priory Meadow and Alexander Park. For details go to www.hastingsphilorchestra.co.uk/hpo-open-doors.
And what of the new season? Even if the virus lingers, da Silva knows how to handle Covid-secure events, and the HPO momentum is impressive. Judging by past events, the concerts will be high quality, varied, and dynamic. Check online and go along and enjoy the music.
–Dr. Carolyn May
pictured at top: Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra, photo by Peter Mould