Society orchestra starts centenary celebrations with concert in Coventry Central Methodist Hall on March 25th 2017


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Event will raise funds for the Durrell Wildlife Foundation

Members of the Heart of England Co-operative Concert Orchestra are celebrating 100 years of public performances in Coventry this year.

The local amateur group, which began life as the Centaur Road Boys’ School Orchestra in 1917, has entertained generations of Coventry families over the decades – raising funds for charities through their concerts which take place some five or six times a year.

Since its formative years the orchestra has been sponsored by the Heart of England Co-operative Society, which was formed by a group of Coventry ribbon weavers in 1832.

Over the years the Society has funded the purchase and repair of musical instruments, bought new music stands and helped with the costs of new music.

Today the Society still meets the cost of the orchestra’s regular rehearsal venue as well as its annual October concert.

In turn the support from the Heart of England Co-operative Society allows the orchestra to raise funds for different causes including Myton Hospice, Mary Ann Evans Hospice, Coventry Mencap, Save the Children Fund, Salvation Army and Guide Dogs – the Society’s corporate charity.

The orchestra has performed at some of Coventry’s most notable events. Highlights include a performance marking the last flight of the DC-3 from Coventry Airport in July 2008 and a programme of wartime music commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Blitz in 1990.

Members will mark the centenary with a range of themed concerts. The first will take place at the Central Methodist Hall in Warwick Lane on March 25th 2017.

With the theme of nature the concert will raise funds for the Durrell Wildlife Foundation – a conservation organisation originally set up by Gerald Durrell – the inspiration for the popular 2016 ITV Drama The Durrells.

Featuring a number of local primary schools and local singers from other community groups, highlights will include a piece written to commemorate Gerald Durrell’s life.

Later in the year the orchestra will celebrate Coventry’s achievements in the UK’s transport industry. The concert will feature a display of artwork created by local schoolchildren, as well as archive footage of the industry which will act as a backdrop to the performance.

Other highlights include a re-creation of a performance from the orchestra in the 1980s and the Christmas concert.

Mark Wooton, conductor of the orchestra, said: “For many the orchestra provides an opportunity to perform a range of pieces that they otherwise would not be able to.

“Players have shown that they are not afraid to take on a new challenge, for example a couple of years ago they performed the full orchestral score for The Snowman as the film was projected behind them. No mean feat!’

He added: “The continued support of the Heart of England Co-operative Society permits the orchestra to provide an excellent and inexpensive chance to see orchestral music performed live in a friendly, informal environment at a variety of venues in Coventry and Warwickshire.”

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