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SLO HISTORY
Part 2, 2011 – present day
by Chris Manvell

After the 2011 spring concert, Becky Milne had to resign from her post as musical director and conductor due to pressure of work; a sad moment as she was greatly appreciated. Becky was replaced by the eminent jazz trombonist, Rick Taylor.

With the arrival of Rick, there was a change in the way the orchestra was run. From Rick's point of view, this was a new experience as he had not conducted a classical orchestra before but was keen to take up the challenge. Also, the task of selecting the programme for each session passed to the committee, taking suggestions coming from the members of the orchestra. Rick threw himself into conducting with enthusiasm and guided the orchestra through such works as Sibelius' Finlandia and Karelia Suite, Dvorak's Slovakian Dances, Mussorgsky's Night on the Bare Mount and, with Becky as soloist, Weber's Clarinet Concertino.

Rick left the orchestra in 2013 after the spring concert and for the short time SLO did not have a conductor. However, thanks to the enterprise of the orchestra's principal cellist we were very fortunate to acquire the services of Iain Roden, from Elgol, to take SLO forward. Circumstances at the time meant that there could be no December concert but the spring concert in 2014 broke new ground. Befitting our tenth anniversary, the committee had agreed to employ the services of Laurence Perkins (principle bassoon of the Manchester Camerata) as soloist in several pieces and the orchestra members voted, for the first time, to perform a complete symphony, Beethoven's Sixth, the 'Pastoral'.

Under Iain's guidance the orchestra took on increasingly demanding programmes including such pieces as the Polka and Furiant from Smetana's Bartered Bride and the Blue Danube (Spring 2015) and exciting encores: Liberty Bell & Offenbach's Orpheus and the Underworld Overture.

Spring 2016 brought a new innovation with two members of the orchestra playing the solo parts in two concertos, Richard Strauss' 1st Horn Concerto, with Chris Manvell, and a movement from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto Op.35 with Wendy Riva. Another first was the appearance of Chris Watkiss' Island Chorus which sang in Iain Roden's Medley of Mediaeval Carols and Handel's Hallelujah Chorus as well as joining in with several other popular carols.

Spring 2017 saw another first, literally, with the world premiere of the Scherzo, A New Companion composed by orchestra member, Nic Bullivant. Chris Watkiss was the soloist in Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto, a veritable tour de force played to a full house and eliciting a standing ovation at the end. And, once again, the Island Chorus joined the orchestra in Verdi's Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.

If you have and play an instrument, bring it and join in!

Part 1, 2004 to 2010.

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