Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra
Meeting this year’s challenges with verve and looking ahead with determination
Now into its fifth season, the re-branded Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra is re-energised and, thanks to generous donations from supporters and a Fairlight Trust grant, aims to present a vibrant series of concerts and recitals for 2020-21.
There is no doubt that the performing arts, in losing all opportunities for live performances and suffering a catastrophic decline in income, has been uniquely damaged by the current pandemic.
For Marcio da Silva – Artistic Director of Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra – and his team, lockdown was certainly nerve-wracking. Not only were concerts and rehearsals cancelled for the foreseeable future, but, due to changes in the organisation of music in Hastings, Marcio had to take on the task of setting up the Orchestra as a separate organisation for the first time since its foundation in 2014. This involved finding significant core funding and building a new infrastructure to secure the administrative and financial future of a newly branded Orchestra.
Marcio da Silva, photo by Peter Mould
A lesser man might have thrown in the towel, but Marcio has formidable drive and creative energy; having made Hastings his home he is determined to achieve his vision – to put Hastings back on the map as a centre of excellence for classical music. An appeal to his audience-base yielded a heart-warmingly generous response within a week, with many sharing warm words of gratitude for all he has done to develop classical music in the area since he became conductor of the Hastings Philharmonic Choir in 2012.
If we scroll forward a few months we skate over many hours of behind-the-scenes hard work. Marcio admits that, even with the groundswell of support, it hasn’t been an easy ride. Fortunately, he has years of high-class training behind him – in France and Germany and then at the Royal College of Music – but also excels at the management and administrative responsibilities expected of his role. You may have seen the HPO lockdown project ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ on BBC South today and YouTube. This distinctive arrangement by Marcio, dedicated to NHS and key workers and played by HPO musicians digitally alongside players from Brazil, encapsulated Marcio’s determination to fight to keep music going through the challenge of the pandemic.
Hastings Philharmonic, photo by Peter Mould
And this is what Marcio seems to have achieved. Working with the new management network at HPO, he has put together a first-rate season for 2020-21; song recitals and string trios, choral and orchestral concerts, opera performances and even an outdoor concert in Alexandra Park – free of charge. Brochures are out and risk assessments are in place to ensure Covid-Secure events. Hats off to the man!