Durham’s new orchestra: Orchestra Cipriani

cirpiani-durhamIn this city where choral music dominates the landscape, it’s fabulous to hear about a new orchestra setting up in Durham. Orchestra Cipriani give their debut concert at St Oswald’s church next Tuesday, playing music by Mendelssohn, Beethoven,  Malcolm Arnold and Steve Robson. There’s an amazing odd-one-out from this list: of the four, Beethoven is the only one who never visited Durham.  Steve Robson is a local composer, who specialises in brass music, conducting Stanhope Silver Band and working on brass transcriptions of opera: Orchestra Cipriani will play his Classical symphony. Malcolm Arnold’s daughter was one of the first students at Trevelyan College, and he wrote his Trevelyan Suite to mark the college’s opening. And Mendelssohn passed through Durham on his famous journey to Scotland – the orchestra are using his sketch of the cathedral for their concert programme.

Orchestra Cipriani themselves take their name from Cipriani Potter. I have learnt from the orchestra’s very informative Facebook page that Potter (1791 – 1871) was one of the first English composers to gain recognition across Europe as a symphonist, as well as holding the position of Principal of the Royal Academy of Music. The orchestra say that their aim is to present neglected music by British composers alongside their continental influences, and although there’s nothing by Cipriani Potter himself on this first programme, no doubt we’ll get to know his music at some point.

The orchestra is conducted by Lewis Wilkinson, who I predict will be in the running for this year’s Busiest Music Student because he’s also managing to conduct the Durham University Orchestral Society, and is President of Music Durham, the umbrella organisation for the university’s music societies. Rebecca Howell, another talented undergraduate who is currently studying with Royal Northern Sinfonia’s Kyra Humphrys, is the orchestra’s leader.

Best wishes to the orchestra for their debut concert – I’m looking forward to it.

Follow the link below for Orchestra Cipriani’s full concert details.