THREE successful concerts already under its belt and another set for the spring, the Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra is mapping out its plans for the year ahead.

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Under the baton of Leslie Olive it was formed last year and had its inaugural performance during the Bury Festival with its first public performance at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, attended by up to 700 people.

The orchestra, made up of international-calibre musicians, followed that up with two more in Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, and has been set up to not only take music to prestigious venues but also into schools, village halls, hospitals, hospices and workplaces, aiming to reach the widest-possible cross-section of the Suffolk community.

The orchestra is the brainchild of Mr Olive, who lives in Rattlesden and whose credentials include conducting leading orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic, London Mozart Players and the English Chamber Orchestra.

He is also artistic director of the English Arts Chorale, and conductor of Stowmarket Chorale and Eye Bach Choir. He said: “My vision is to take great music throughout Suffolk. I‘ve lived in Suffolk for 10 years... this is the most wonderful, wonderful county... and it just has to have a professional orchestra.”

At their first concert 11 teenagers joined the professionals on stage as part of the orchestra’s commitment to education and 14-year-old violinist Kerry Blofield said: “It was a bit scary at first but as soon as I started playing it was just brilliant. Just being surrounded by all those professional players is great.

“Hearing all the others play like that – I’d like to play like that one day. It’s definitely going to inspire me to practice more.”

On Sunday, May 26, the orchestra will be performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No 2 (“London”) with Julian Lloyd Webber, at the Apex, in Bury.

And as part of the build up to the concert there are plans to link up with students from Bury, Newmarket, Haverhill and Sudbury, at King Edward VI School, Bury.

Orchestra trustee Gordon Puckey said: “We have ambitious plans. We are working hard on a programme of four major concerts for 2013 with others of a more modest scale and a programme of community concerts. Plans are also afoot for a major concert in St Edmundsbury Cathedral, in November.”

Mr Olive added: “Imagine, if you will, the whole community life of Suffolk permeated by the world’s most inspiring music, played with true professional excellence, not only with full symphonic splendour in the great venues but also at a more intimate scale in the towns and villages, reaching into the life of the community: into town churches, village halls and schools, community centres, hospitals and hospices.

“Many organisations have a ‘friends’ scheme to help raise vital funds. Ours is called the Conductor’s Circle.”

Anyone who wants to support or sponsor the orchestra can contact Mr Olive at leslie.olive@suffolkphil.org or telephone 01449 737766.

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