Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra announces a return to live concerts after a year of pandemic postponements.


Before lockdown the orchestra pulled off a major coup in appointing one of the world’s leading musicians, Joanna MacGregor CBE as their new Music Director. COVID delayed her first season, but one year on her exciting programme is being re-instated at Brighton Dome Concert Hall and other venues across the city.

COVID-19 has not thwarted Joanna from producing a wonderful programme for the BPO featuring the Mozart, Brahms, Elgar and Ravel but also including film, folk music and Argentinian tango. The orchestra can’t wait to get back on stage to fire up audiences once more.

The 2021/22 season is Joanna MacGregor’s first season with the BPO and alongside the usual Brighton Dome Concert Hall events Joanna has programmed a number of chamber music concerts featuring the orchestra’s star players at Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts and St Luke’s Church (Queens Park).


Joanna MacGregor with Brighton Philharmonc Orchestra at Brighton Dome on 26th September 2021

Argentine Tango’s advance into European classical concerts reached its ultimate seal of British approval and media exposure this month. Astor Piazzolla’s most well-known composition Libertango was included in The Last Night of The Proms, complete with twice-appearing accordionist Ksenija Sodorova, from Latvia, front-stage.

Along with bandoneon – the Argentine accordion – piano, double bass and violin constitute core Piazzolla tango orchestration and the nostalgic Hispanic atmosphere began enthusing amateur recreational dancers across Britain before it did musicians. The jazz and improvisational element ruled out classical musicians becoming practitioners, unless of wider breeding or stylistic bent.

Two exceptions have emerged from London in the recent years of tango dance centres taking root in enlightened cities (Brighton included) – one the programmatically-pioneering British pianist Joanna MacGregor, the other and London-based Polish violinist Kamila Bydlowska.

Captivated by Argentine Tango, MacGregor became a pianist with Piazzolla’s authentic posthumously-revived orchestra. Bydlowska is today one quarter of London-based band Tango Terra Kuarteto, an otherwise male ensemble of Argentinians embedded in the London tango tuition and dance culture. Two women who thus prepare classical concertos for performance one day, and another day leap eagerly as well as comfortably into the tango groove.

MacGregor gave her own arrangement of Three Piazzolla Tangos (Michelangelo 70, Milanga del Angel, Libertango) with five Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra string players in a Brighton Dome livestreamed Sunday Coffee Concert of chamber music in April. Now on Sunday, September 26 (2.45pm) her arrangement will separate Mozart’s 9th and 21st Piano Concertos in the opening orchestral concert of BPO’s 2021-22 season.

Two days earlier, Bydlowska is also in Brighton action, at the Music & Wine at St Luke’s series on Friday 24th September (7.30). She will be playing Piazzolla’s Tango for the 1988 film Sur called Vuelvo Al sur’ (‘I’m going back to the South’). This comes in her concert with the Ukrainian pianist Olga Paliy, alongside Igor Frolov’s virtuoso Concert Fantasy on Themes from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess. Yet included on the same programme are Brahms’ FAE Sonata Scherzo, Saint-Saens’ substantial Violin Sonata No 1 in D minor, and some Prokofiev. We are in freshened new times.

We find two women in classical music taking the tango game to the guys. But doesn’t the woman do that in the tango dance itself? Is there any matching historic classic dance where traditionally the woman does as much controlling as the man?

Unsurprisingly, it’s women who are driving tango in city venues in our and provincial pockets of growth. Tango Terra Kuarteto are in hotspot demand not only in the capital (including The South Bank Centre), Brighton, Bristol and Portsmouth, but also enclaves such as Dorchester and Hertford.

But why is Tango now rubbing shoulders with classical like this? Is it because audiences rather like watching musicians in black and white concert dress undoing buttons, shedding their straitjacket, flexing their improvisatory muscles, creating a more relaxed spontaneity – and stirring up a more palpable passion?

Richard Amey

Kamila Bydlowska is an associate artiste of The International Interview Concerts

Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra announces New Season 2021-2

This coming season – our sixth – will be dedicated to the link between the Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hastings Municipal Orchestra for which the White Rock Theatre was created. We will focus on three of the most prominent composers of the Hastings Municipal Orchestra: Julian Clifford, Julius Harrison, and Basil Cameron. We are excited to be the orchestra in residence at the theatre and we look forward to welcoming you in September.

Our core aim remains as before – to put Hastings back on the map as a centre of excellence for classical music. We are ready to launch a season of 19 diverse and exciting concerts and intend to continue our dynamic work engaging with the local community, developing partnerships, and seeking out sustainable funding.

Full details

Mitsuko Uchida – Hastings International Piano. Saturday 25th September 2021 Fairlight Hall

One of the most revered artists of our time, Mitsuko Uchida performs a very special fundraising concert for Hastings International Piano.
Saturday 25th September 2021 Fairlight Hall 5.30pm (Main Hall of House)
One hour performance followed by drinks reception.
Hastings International Piano is delighted to offer their Friends and Patrons the opportunity to reserve seats for a very special concert and drinks reception taking place at Fairlight Hall (main hall of house) on Saturday 25th September.
Beethoven – Diabelli Variations – Op.120
One of the most revered artists of our time, Mitsuko Uchida is known as a peerless interpreter of the works of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and Beethoven, as well for being a devotee of the piano music of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and György Kurtág.

For more information please visit

Maya Irgalina at St Luke’s Brighton 13th August 2021

Updated preview since lifting of Covid restrictions

Live Concert, Brighton 13 August, 7.30

Classic cat and mouse? The smiling Brighton audience at Music & Wine at St Luke’s will wonder if two famous cartoon characters have been reincarnated and broken loose around the building. ‘The Tom and Jerry Show’ is the truly novel attraction there in Maya Irgalina’s enterprising live concert there on Friday 13 August (7.30pm).

The show-stopping music piece was written in 2003 by popular young female living jazzy Japanese performer and composer Hiromi Uehara – and it takes a special personality not just to perform but actually to include in a conventional solo piano concert. It reveals to an audience if the virtuoso pianist before them dares perform with their tongue in cheek.

Beethoven definitely had his cheek filled during his Caprice, ‘Rage Over A Lost Penny’, and that’s coming up, too. This is a theraputic programme with an upbeat summer fair or holiday feel, sympathetic to the times.

With Spain among the difficult places to holiday this summer, a definite tapas flavour wafts in from Maya Irgalina. There are atmospheric Andalusian nostalgia and flamenco vibes in Albeniz’ ‘Jerez’ and ‘Triana’ from his quartet of ‘Iberia’ masterpiece books – Jerez the city of sherry, brandy, horses and carriages, and Triana the artsy former gypsy quarter of Seville. And another Spanish connection comes in three Scarlatti Sonatas, composed by an Italian while resident in Madrid.

If it’s a hot evening, Debussy’s ‘Reverie’ will fit extra-perfectly. And on the way towards that ‘Tom and Jerry’ tours de force, Ravel’s Sonatine will turn on cool Parisian suavity to preface two pieces by jazz-blooded Russian composer Nikolai Kasputin – ‘Paraphrase on Aquarela do Brazil by Ary Barros’ (spot the tune) and ‘Jazz Variations’.

Following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, this concert will now have an interval, including wine being served, and admission tickets resuming on sale at the door. See the website for details and check the page showing updated social distancing guidelines.

Maya’s ‘Irgalina’ is not Mediterranean Latino but sounds as “Ear-gar-leaner”. She is from Balarus, and spreads a solo piano career with collaborations performing with outstanding new young classical singers. Among her lockdown engagement casualties were appearances with soprano Kate Royal and the celebrated British cellist Natalie Clein.

Maya is an associated artiste of the Worthing-based International Interview Concerts.

The International Interview Concerts | Facebook

Richard Amey

Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra Open Doors

The Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra has organised a series of free classical music events entitled ‘Open Doors’ which has something for everyone. The orchestra’s survival through Covid and its ability to perform for free owes much to the generosity of its sponsors, Fairlight Arts Trust and Penn Elcom, with further funding from the Lottery and the approval of the Arts Council.

Live classical music was endangered by the length of Covid lockdowns, but the Orchestra is pleased to be able to contemplate a full new 2021/22 Season with confidence, of which more details will be available soon. Meanwhile, try and take in one or more of these free events and show your support for live classical music in Hastings by joining the HPO mailing list to be kept informed of future events:

HPO String Quartet – Wednesday 14 July, 2pm at Priory Meadow, Queens Road, Hastings TN34 1PH. HPO’s princial string players offer this exciting, free of charge summer highlight – an opportunity for you to listen to their wonderful rendition of two chamber music gems: Haydn’s Emperor Quartet, and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers) Thursday 15 July, 8pm, in
Christchurch, Silchester Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 6AY. Sung by HPO Singers and Cantemus Choir conducted by Marcio da Silva, running time 75 minutes including interval. Free performance.

HPO Songbirds inaugural concert Friday 16 July, 7pm at Christchurch. Children aged 5–11 perform their first brilliant repertoire!

Masterclass and Workshop Day. Saturday 17 July, from 11am, with an informal student performance at 3:15pm. Principal HPO players will host East Sussex Music Students, working at approximately Grade 5 and above, and invite them to play their current repertoire at Christchurch.

HPO Wind Quintet. Saturday 17 July 7:00pm at Christchurch. This includes the world premiere of a work by local composer Keith Beal; some people may remember his opera Merlin shown at St Mary in the Castle in 2018.

Concert in the Park Saturday 14 August, 3pm, at the bandstand in Alexandra Park, Hastings TN34 2LQ. A glorious celebration of short, well-known and greatly loved pieces of classical music, perfect for a family picnic!

This ‘outdoor’ concert is guaranteed to be a family favourite with something for everyone to enjoy!

Christopher Cormack

Dr Brian Hick BA(Hons) MA PHD

Brian sadly died on 30th May 2021. It is difficult to summarise such a full and active life as his. Here is a little about him.

Brian was born in Shrewsbury in 1945, but the family soon moved to Fulham where he lived until he married Sally in 1966 and went to live in Camden Town. Then he was working in the BBC Music Department near Broadcasting House, and soon after starting with the BBC commenced an Hons English Degree at Birkbeck College which led to post-graduate training as a Director at The Drama Centre. He worked briefly in the theatre and then moved to Redhill and taught drama. He says, “The two essential professional strands of my lengthy career evolve at this point. In Education I taught drama and English, while running numerous drama and music groups. I ran the local Arts Festival and was invited to write as arts correspondent for the Surrey Mirror”.

In 1980 the family moved to Hastings. Brian held a number of senior educational posts, while becoming increasingly involved working with Special Education Needs Students – a field only just opening up in its own right. After work based in particular schools he started a long association with Russell Education Trust as their Senior Special Needs Consultant, travelling widely, covering schools across the South of England and into South Wales.

In Hastings he met up with Denby Richards, Editor of the oldest international music magazine Musical Opinion. He started to write regularly for the magazine and was soon acting as Deputy Editor. In 1992 he was invited to become Editor of The Organ which he happily took on – significantly updating and broadening the scope of the publication. He remained Editor for 15 years and then became Editor Emeritus.

With a local group of interested musicians, led by Denby Richards, he helped run the early St Leonards Arts Festival. He was invited to become a member of the Critics Circle – “I had waited many years for this and it was a real honour as they invite you, and you have no idea who has proposed you”.

He was involved in Glyndbourne’s community Opera on the Pier and was also invited to direct and conduct with different local groups on a fairly regular basis. This included working with BLODS in Bexhill and directing the world premiere of Kenneth Roberts Quel weekend for Hastings Opera (now Opera SouthEast). He directed a number of plays for the Stables Theatre, and formed a small company to set up an open-air summer theatre at Batemans.

He has written intermittently for Hastings Observer over the years and recently, during the time of Covid wrote a weekly column which was well read and appreciated by many. In it he talked about the frustrations and difficulties for musicians but also some of the pleasures and creativity to be found online. He also featured many reminiscences of past musical experiences.

He founded Lark Reviews website in 2012. It has grown to be well used as a source of information and a promotional tool by individuals and groups with the more local 1066 sections as well as covering a diverse range of musical activity in other parts of the country   and now also online. CD and occasional DVD reviews also appear regularly with releases from many of the major producers as well as some produced on a smaller scale.

Brian wrote and published a number of books – including the detailed rebuilding of the 1763 Hastings Snetzler organ, a three volume survey of all the Organs of 1066 Country, and the biography of Edward Wyon, architect and poet who built and designed St John’s Hollington. There is also a range of personal publications A Lark on …..which are essentially autobiographical poems. He had a number of poems featured in Wild Goose Publications from the Iona Community.

He was involved in a number of organisations, musical and otherwise. He was for a number of years a trustee of the Seaview Project, working with homeless and other vulnerable people in St Leonards. Brian would often speak to other organisations about the work of Seaview. He was more recently invited to become a trustee of the newly organised Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra. Locally he was a particular champion of the Hastings Philharmonic Choir, Hastings Sinfonia and the Opus Theatre. He was also connected with Garsington Opera, English National Opera and the Oxford Lieder Festival.

He championed the restoration of the Snetzler organ in Hastings Unitarian church and was very supportive of young organists beginning a professional career. One of these, Tom Bell, now a successful concert organist and teacher for the Royal College of Organists writes this,

Brian was a lovely man with a refreshingly broad interest in and love of music. I first met him in connection with a recital I was awarded as a teenager, in the 1999 Three Choirs Festival (in Worcester). Five young organists were invited to give recitals during the festival, following a Royal College of Organists event earlier that year. Brian featured all five performers, and some reflections on their programmes, in The Organ. This was wonderfully kind, encouraging, and the reviews themselves were pitched just right given the age of the performers. Since that time my meetings with Brian have usually been in connection with recitals at All Saints Hastings, where I have played several times. It was also a very great pleasure to perform at Hastings Unitarian Chapel at Brian’s behest, both before and after the little Snetzler organ there was restored. Brian invited me to give those concerts when I was a student and it was a real thrill to reopen a restored historic organ. I am grateful to Brian for that opportunity and for plenty of other encouragement over the years.

We send our love to Sally and the family at this time and are thankful for Brian and his many legacies.



The 32nd series of these popular organ concerts begin on 5th July at All Saints Church in Hastings Old Town. Many distinguishged organists have taken part in these concerts over the years and have said how much they enjoy playing this particular instrument, tonally unchanged since its construction almost 150 years ago. As with previous years there is an impressive lineup of cathedral, church and concert organists.

Concerts take place on Monday evenings until the final concert, which as with the first in this year’s programme will be given by series favourite Gordon Stewart.

All concerts begin at 7.30pm

Further information available from
Malcolm Lock – Mobile: 0780 106 8156

The Hastings Sinfonia

The Hastings Sinfonia will be celebrating 10 years of a very successful and uninterrupted existence next year. This exciting orchestra is well known for its strong commitment to the community as well as for its accessible concerts with popular music both old and new being performed.

The friendly orchestra, founded includes in its ranks both professional and good standard amateur players is now looking to include even more members to join them – as well as with guest soloists!

Having prepared well to avoid any risks caused by the covid pandemic, the Hastings Sinfonia is restarting rehearsals every Wednesday evenings at St John’s in Pevensey Road.

The Hastings Sinfonia was founded in 2012 by local composer Polo Piatti who remains as its Artistic Director and has been conducted for most of its existence by London maestro Derek Carden, who travels regularly to Hastings to hold rehearsals every week.

And there is some more exciting news! Due to the pandemic’s lockdown, the Sinfonia had to remain silent and unable to rehearse for over a year. Nevertheless, always inventive, the organisation has managed to create one very positive outcome from the situation. Lead by David Bottom, one of their clarinettists, they have formed a brand new, associated ensemble, the ‘Hastings Sinfonia Wind Quintet’. The new group has started rehearsing together on zoom and then together as soon as Covid rules have permitted. Members of the new and very promising ensemble are Annabel Noton (flute), Gail Taylor (oboe), Adam Rawlinson (bassoon) and Tim Egan (French horn). Their first public performance will take place on Sunday 22nd August at 2pm at the bandstand in Hastings’s Alexandra Park. Why not come along, listen to beautiful music and meet the musicians!?

If you are interested in joining the very welcoming Hastings Sinfonia Orchestra please email its chair Sandra Goodsell on:

Make Music Day on Monday 21 June Brighton Dome

Monday 21 June sees the return of Make Music Day; a worldwide celebration of music in person, online and beyond. Brighton & Hove Music & Arts (BHMA) and East Sussex Music (ESM) will be celebrating in style with an all-day virtual event that everyone can be a part of.

Giving music-makers a platform to showcase their work, BHMA and ESM are inviting everyone, from beginner to expert, to submit videos of their own performances, which will be shared on social media throughout the day, as well as showcasing videos from their talented teachers, learners and more. On top of this, there will be competitions and giveaways, live streams with free teachings and performances, messages from special guests and awards for the best performers, all to be announced soon.

To submit your videos, visit and to stay up to date with announcements, join the official Facebook event page at

Make Music Day began in France as Fête de la Musique in 1982 when the Ministry of Culture imagined a great popular event that would allow all musicians to express themselves and make themselves known. This worldwide phenomenon first came to the UK in 2012 and the number of gigs taking place has been growing year on year. 2017 was the first UK-wide coordinated event with support and funding from national organisations resulting in 147 performances. In 2020, there were 1,739 performances live and online and it’s still growing. This is an opportunity to get involved in the world’s largest grassroots music movement – it’s a wonderful way to celebrate the longest day of the year.