Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Battle of the Somme Concert with Bristol Symphony Orchestra

Clifton Cathedral and Bristol Symphony Orchestra present in partnership 
the 1916 silent film The Battle of the Somme with live orchestra, 
on Friday 18th November 2016, 8pm at Clifton Cathedral as part of Somme100 Film

The Film: 18th November is a fitting day for the presentation of the 1916 film The Battle of the Somme as it is the centenary of the final day of that terrible four month-long slaughter that brought such great loss on both sides. The film is made even more powerful by Laura Rossi’s score for orchestra, commissioned by Imperial War Museums (IWM) to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle, played by Bristol Symphony Orchestra under the baton of William Goodchild.

Somme100 Film is an international project working with IWM as part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, marking the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. Its aim is to bring together 100 live orchestral performances of the film and this presentation is one of them.

To its 1916 audience the film gave unprecedented insight into the horrific realities of trench warfare, including depiction of dead and wounded soldiers which had not been shown in cinemas before. As they move towards the Front, troops smile awkwardly at the new-fangled cameras (the moving image was only about 20 years old then). The film reveals the build up to the infantry offensive, including the massive preliminary bombardment, and coverage of the first day of the Battle, which proved to be the bloodiest single day in Britain’s entire military history. It shows the attack’s small gains and huge casualties. 

Shortly after the Battle, it is estimated that within the first two months of release, 20 million people saw the film in the UK, which was over half the country’s adult population. British official cinematographers Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell made the film, which is the source of many of the conflict’s most iconic images still used today. It was not originally intended as a feature film but once the quality and volume of footage had been seen, the British Topical Committee for War Films in London decided to compile this feature length film, so that everyone could witness the horrors of the War.

The Music: Laura Rossi’s score was written to accompany the soundtrack for the digitally restored film. When embarking on her research, she discovered that her great-uncle, Fred Ainge, whom she knew, as he had survived the War, was a stretcher-bearer attached to the 29th Division on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle. Using Fred’s diaries to locate the areas in which he had served, Laura visited the battlefields to help prepare herself for composing. The premiere took place in 2006 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra with a five star review in The Times. (See her bio and contact info below.)

Pre-concert talk: Local journalist and broadcaster, Richard Hope-Hawkins, will give a half-hour talk from 7 to 7.30pm in the Apostle Room at Clifton Cathedral. He discovered that his great-uncle 2nd Lieutenant George Mitchell fought on the Somme alongside Australian soldiers, as did many from Bristol. His expert knowledge of World War I includes the Battle of Fromelles, a subsidiary attack during the Battle of the Somme. 

Poetry Recitals: Word War I poems read by Bristol based actor, Norman Bowler.

Tickets: For full information about ticket prices, booking for the pre-concert talk (limited numbers) and for the concert, visit

Laura Rossi bio: 
Laura writes extensively for film and television, including the critically acclaimed London to Brighton, The Eichmann Show and Song for Marion, the latter starring Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp, and all produced by Paul Williams. She has also scored many silent films including the British Film Institute’s Silent Shakespeare and, as well as The Battle of the Somme, The Battle of the Ancre

Her latest work, Voices of Remembrance, is a choral and orchestral work featuring war poems read by Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave. The music was commissioned by Boosey & Hawkes to mark the centenary in 1914 of the First World War. 

Laura’s music has been recorded and performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Musici Orchestra, London Contemporary Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Performances have taken place at the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. She is also lecturer for film music at the London Film Academy. 

Clifton Cathedral: 
Clifton Cathedral, in common with many other Cathedrals in the UK, is running a thoughtful programme of First World War commemoration events for the local community, diocese and the Cathedral’s many visitors. It is for this reason the Cathedral chose to host this special presentation of The Battle of the Somme and work in partnership with Bristol Symphony Orchestra.

The Orchestra: 
Bristol Symphony Orchestra was formed in January 2016 – full details about the Orchestra and forthcoming concerts are available at

Further details: 

The Concert: 
To get further information and book tickets for the concert and talk click here:

The Centenary Tour: 
To read more about the SommeFilm 100 Project, click here: 

Clifton Cathedral: 
To read more about the venue please click here: 

Any press related stories, please contact Rachel via email at 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Bristol Symphony helped to raise nearly £10,000 for three Bristol charities

It's been a successful season of charity concerts for Bristol Symphony Orchestra. 

Having formed in January 2016, Bristol Symphony Orchestra is pleased to have helped raise nearly £10,000 for three Bristol charities

St George’s BristolBristol Youth and Community Action, and Penny Brohn UK.

The High Sheriff’s Concert raised £3,500 for St George’s Bristol 
and £4,200 for Bristol Youth and Community Action

The current High Sheriff of Bristol, Helen Wilde, chose to hold this annual event at St George’s Bristol to spotlight their Building a Sound Future project. This will extend and upgrade the building to make it fit for the 21st century. Work is already under way to build an elegant two-storey extension to provide the space and facilities so desperately needed for the growing numbers of concert-goers, artists and school-children who visit. To make her concert really special she, and her husband Dr Peter Wilde, commissioned the Concerto for Kora and Orchestra, co-composed by Bristol Symphony Orchestra composer/ conductor William Goodchild and Bristol-based kora player Mamadou Cissokho, which was performed to loud acclaim. 

Bristol Youth and Community Action is a fund that enriches the lives of young people by providing co-ordinated holiday activity schemes for them in disadvantaged areas of the city.

Standing Ovation at half time at the High Sheriff's Concert

Sara Lovell’s Concert at Trinity-Henleaze, URC, Bristol,

raised £1,800 for Penny Brohn UK

International cellist, Sara Lovell, who beat breast cancer last year, joined forces with Bristol Symphony Orchestra to raise over £1,800 for the charity that supported her through her illness. Together, they packed out Trinity-Henleaze United Reformed Church after which a cheque for £1,800 was presented to Penny Brohn UK

Sara Lovell has performed on concert platforms across the globe, for films and for radio. She said ‘Penny Brohn is fantastic and gave me back my life. Cancer impacts everything, from your personal life to career, and they helped me regain control of my health and wellbeing, which got me through treatment.

With over 35 years’ experience, Penny Brohn’s Bristol Whole Life Approach helps people and their supporters regain control of their health and wellbeing, and to find the resources to thrive before, during and after treatment. To achieve this, the charity explores areas such as diet, exercise, relationships and stress management through free courses, one-to-one therapies, groups, a treatment support clinic and their national helpline.

Bristol Symphony’s conductor William Goodchild (left) with Penny Brohn’s Ian Riddell and cellist Sara Lovell

Forthcoming Events

Spirit of the Cello 
at the Penny Brohn National Centre
October 28 2016 at 7.45pm

Sara Lovell, with accomplished pianist Nicholas Oliver, performs an intimate concert for Penny Brohn UK at their national centre at Chapel Pill Lane, Bristol BS20 0HH. Spirit of the Cello includes works by Brahms, Bruch, Schumann, Fauré and Chopin. Doors open at 7.20pm.

Tickets: £20, seniors £16 including canapés and a glass of fizz. Under 14s, £10. 
To book, ring 0303 3000 118, 

Bristol Symphony Orchestra - The Battle of the Somme 
at Clifton Cathedral
November 18 2016 at 8pm

Bristol Symphony Orchestra and Clifton Cathedral are working in partnership with Somme100 Film, Imperial War Museums, Arts Council, and Faber Music to commemorate the centenary of The Battle of the Somme with a screening of the 1916 silent film The Battle of the Somme, at Clifton Cathedral, Bristol BS8 3BX. 
Tickets: £17.50 /12.50 in advance or £20.00 / £15.00 on the door. For full information and to book, visit:
Concert in support of Help for Heroes.

Bristol Symphony Orchestra - An Evening of Film Music 
at St Georges’s Bristol 
December 1 2016 at 7.30pm

Experience live some of cinema’s most memorable themes including The Godfather, Jaws, The Magnificent Seven and with solo violinist, Roger Huckle, performing Three Pieces from Schindler’s List, and Cinema Paradiso. The concert is selling fast!
Tickets: £15 (£14), £12 (£11), £8 (£6), £5 U18s
To book ring St George’s box office 0845 402 4001 
or visit Tickets also available on the door. 

Sunday, 19 June 2016


This is going to be a wonderful concert. We are really looking forward to this event and proud to be supporting such a great locally based charity such as Penny Brohn UK. We will be performing a stunning programme with our soloist, Sara Lovell (cello).

For programme, directions and ticket information details, please click HERE

Sara Lovell, Cello
[  About Sara Lovell ]
(Our soloist)

Sara began to play the cello aged seven, joining the National Youth Orchestra at thirteen. At the age of sixteen she was offered places at both the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, but opted to study at the Royal Northern College of Music where she gained her G.Mus. with honours. From there she went on to study at the Royal College of Music, taking an Advanced Performers Course and gaining her Diploma RCM (teachers) with honours.

In Manchester, Sara studied with Raphael Sommer and in London with Joan Dickson, Nancy Green and later Bruno Schrecker. As a winner of the Norman Educational Foundation trust, she also played in numerous masterclasses both in England and abroad, notably with Ralph Kirschbaum, Zara Nelsova and Arto Noras.

Sara has played in concerts at the Lucerne festivals; at the International Cello Festival in Nemours, France and has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras. She has both recorded and broadcast live for radio, recorded for film and appeared in solo recitals and talks for festivals and music societies throughout the UK, Canada, the EU and Switzerland to wide acclaim, and currently works with several chamber ensembles. Sara has been teaching for thirty years and has an elite  practice in the South-West. She coaches students up to and including degree and diploma level, also giving talks, workshops and masterclasses.

Her first book, 'Cellotude - a Fast track to Brilliance', has already been highly acclaimed by the conductors Peter Stark and Marin Alsop, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham's School of Music and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and was published by Beautiful Books Ltd.

Sara produced her first CD in 2004, which resulted in a highly acclaimed double album release of the Bach Cello Suites in May 2005. She has been described as a 'musical dynamo' by Musical Opinion. Sara is in demand both as a soloist and a chamber musician, and has a wide knowledge of the mainstream cello repertoire. Her most recent recital was with the pianist Nicholas Oliver at St Georges Bristol.

Sara is also a talented artist working predominantly in representative acrylic paintings.

[   Why Penny Brohn UK?  ]

By Vivien Arthur 
(a friend of Sara Lovell's & a cellist in Bristol Symphony Orchestra)

"I was involved in Sara’s care last year and personally received superb support from attending Penny Brohn courses (both day and residential); the staff give equal care and support to friends and family caring for someone with cancer, and I found this invaluable and not available from the traditional hospital services. Even though I had been a nurse my whole career, I found helping someone through the cancer journey a real challenge as well as a privilege.

Sara discussed her wish to do a concert for Penny Brohn, and after Will and Pam had agreed to this, my friend Sarah Vesty (who has helped a great deal with the practical preparation) and myself discussed venues. We decided to use the beautiful United Reformed Church in Henleaze, and we are looking forward to a wonderful evening on the 25th June 2016. We have had incredible support in web design and advertising from Rachel Goodchild.

We so hope the church will be full to support the charity and Bristol Symphony Orchestra. Thank you."   Viv Arthur

[  Words from Sara Lovell  ]
(Cello Soloist and past cancer patient at Penny Brohn UK)

"I am so chuffed at being able to safely say I have passed the one year milestone, since being diagnosed with breast cancer and successfully treated with a combination of chemotherapy, two lots of surgery and radiotherapy daily for four weeks.

The wonderful staff at Penny Brohn helped me live through the cancer treatment with both practical support and a high level of emotional care. The Centre in Pill provides an environment which was (and is) an oasis of calm in those dark days. The building is stunning inside and the gardens are magnificent, in whatever weather. One feels cared for in a very, very special way.

I wanted to do something practical to support them (they rely totally on donations for their work) and it seemed ideal  (as a professional cellist) to perform a concerto with Bristol Symphony Orchestra to raise funds for Penny Brohn, and give pleasure to the audience by playing some lovely music.

I had previously worked with Will Goodchild, a superb conductor; so I approached him and asked if we could work together and arrange a concert. Without hesitation he gave me every support; and working alongside leader Pam Bell suggested a date (25th June 2016) when he and the orchestra could be available."   Sara Lovell

Sara Lovell, Cello 
[  Our Charity  ]

Penny Brohn UK have been successfully helping people with cancer for over 35 years, with their pioneering ‘Bristol Whole Life Approach’ They show people how to live well with cancer and take back control of their health and wellbeing –  before, during and after treatment.
Their range of services are free of charge to adults with a cancer diagnosis and their supporters. However, as a charity they rely on donations to fund their work, they provide equal support to those caring for people with cancer as well as the patients themselves.

To find out more concert information or to book tickets, please click here

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Bristol Symphony Orchestra and BBC Music Day | June 2016

Bristol Symphony at St George's Bristol - BBC Music Day | June 2016

We had a great Open Rehearsal last night at St George's Bristol. Thanks to everyone who came along to listen and watch. We were taking part in the nationwide events for BBC Music Day (BBC Music Day: connecting communities and generations in a celebration of music across the UK). 

Mamadou talking to the audience about the kora

We were rehearsing our Concerto for Kora and Orchestra, composed by our conductor, William Goodchild, and master kora player, Mamadou Cissokho. This piece will be premiered on Saturday 18th June at St George's Bristol, as part of a programme for The High Sheriff's Concert. The concerto was commissioned by Bristol's High Sheriff, Helen Wilde.

Remco Merbis from Pixillion also attended the rehearsal. Remco is currently making a short film of the collaboration between William and Mamadou. 

Audience members came on stage with Bristol Symphony at St George's, BBC Music Day | June 2016

William invited members of the audience onto the stage to sit amongst the orchestra. This proved really successful, with up to nine audience members at a time experiencing the rehearsal from a player's perspective.

Audience members joining on stage with Bristol Symphony at St George's BBC Music Day | June 2016

The BBC Music Day strapline is, For the love of music, and our Open Rehearsal certainly felt relaxed, with people popping in and out of the hall, joining us on stage and generally enjoying hearing an orchestra at work. 

Bristol Symphony at St George's BBC Music Day | June 2016

If you are interested in hearing the live performance of Concerto for Kora and Orchestra,
please click here for more information and to buy tickets.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Composer Dame Ethel Smyth

Composer Dame Ethel Smyth’s Serenade in D, 

to be performed by Bristol Symphony Orchestra at the High Sheriff's Concert

Saturday 18th June, 7.30pm at St George’s Bristol

Feminist is the first word that greets you on the Twitter feed of Helen Wilde, the High Sheriff of Bristol. This exactly explains why, when choosing the works for her concert to be performed by Bristol Symphony Orchestra on Saturday 18th June at St George’s Bristol, she wanted to include a work by Dame Ethel Smyth, one of our first ever feminists.

Dame Ethel was born in 1858 and already knew by the age of 12 that she wanted to compose and make music her life. Other daughters may have been cowed by their fathers. General Smyth refused her permission to go to Leipzig to study music but our heroine was so determined that she went on hunger strike at home to force her father to change his mind – which he did. 

Whilst studying in Leipzig, she met Dvořák, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, the latter saying of her work, ‘Miss Smyth is one of the few women composers whom one can seriously consider to be achieving something valuable in the field of musical creation.’ 

Dame Ethel may not be well-known to us today, but she really should be, as she was a most prolific composer of a wide range of works. She wrote six operas for which she also wrote the libretti, and choral works, including the greatly acclaimed Mass in D, orchestral and chamber music, piano and organ solos and many songs. The Serenade in D, which Helen Wilde has chosen, is a robustly lyrical and melodic piece which had its first performance in 1890 at The Crystal Palace. Both the public and the press loved it. For George Bernard Shaw it was ‘magnificent’ and in his view would ‘stand up in the biggest company.’

On her 75th birthday, her work was celebrated at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of Queen Mary. Devastatingly however, Dame Ethel was completely deaf by then and could hear neither the music nor the audience’s great appreciation of it.

Dame Ethel’s fiery character also compelled her to become an active suffragette. In 1911, she paid the price for hurling a brick through the Colonial Secretary’s window, by

spending two months at His Majesty’s pleasure at Royal Holloway Prison. However, thanks to her prodigious talent, this did not stop her being made, only eleven years later, Dame of the British Empire by the same monarch, King George V.

Dame Ethel’s 95 year old great-nephew Bruce Davidson is full of regret that he cannot attend the concert but he vividly recalls what a ‘fiercesome’ person she was. Once when he was 12, he went to meet her off a train and was overcome by embarrassment at being asked extremely loudly what he was going to do with his life – Dame Ethel’s deafness meant that Bruce had to shout his replies. In 1942, two years before her death at the age of 86, Bruce was training at Sandhurst, and has memories of having lunch with her when she insisted on their enjoying ‘something medicinal’ – a bottle of white wine! Bruce’s son Andrew will be among the High Sheriff’s guests at the concert, providing a personal link back to this remarkable woman. 
Editorial written by Jane Krish

Serenade in D

In Dame Ethel’s own words: 

Because I have conducted my own operas and love sheep-dogs; because I generally dress in tweeds, and sometimes, at winter afternoon concerts, have even conducted in them; because I was a militant suffragette and seized a chance of beating time to The March of the Women from the window of my cell in Holloway Prison with a tooth-brush; because I have written books, spoken speeches, broadcast, and don't always make sure that my hat is on straight; for these and other equally pertinent reasons, in a certain sense I am well known."

To hear The March of the Women, click here.

Born: Ethel Mary Smyth, 23 April 1858, Sidcup, Kent, England

Father: Major-General John Hall Smyth C.B., Royal Artillery

Mother: Nina Struth, French

Siblings: fourth of eight children (six of them girls)

Partners: none 

Children: none 

Died: 8 May 1944, Woking, Surrey, England

Cause of death: pneumonia after 2 years of illness.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Concerto for Kora and Orchestra - Mamadou Cissokho and William Goodchild

Having completed the orchestral score for the Concerto for Kora and Orchestra, William Goodchild and Mamadou Cissokho spent a day at Christchurch Studios Clifton recording a model of the entire work. Using an electronic reproduction of the orchestral score, they recorded and overdubbed the kora solo part, and guide djembe and percussion parts. 

The work has its first full rehearsal on Monday 18th April. Joining the Orchestra and conductor Will, will be Mamadou (kora), David Oliver (world percussion) and two Senegalese drummers playing a variety of West African drums including djembe, dundun and congas.

Concerto for Kora and Orchestra has been commissioned by Bristol High Sheriff 2016/17, Helen Wilde. The work receives its premiere at the High Sheriff's Concert on 18th June at St George's Bristol

Above: Film-maker Remo Merbis who is documenting the
 collaboration between Mamadou and Will

Thank you to Rosa Fay for the Photos

Sunday, 13 March 2016


We have been nominated for the New Business Award at The Regional Awards

sponsored by Ebbw Media

Voting is now open and you can vote by clicking HERE

Or you can copy this link (below) to friends and family via email, Facebook, etc.

Copy and paste this link to ask other's to vote:

Thursday, 28 January 2016


What happens when one of our players turns up to a shoot without her instrument, but instead with a baby? 

When the baby is as cute as Anita's baby, why you include her in the shoot, of course!

Thank you to the photographer

Monday, 21 December 2015


Our Conductor has written an article for the BBC Two Blog about composing the music for a BBC2 Natural History programme.

21st and 27th December at 9 pm

Gordon Buchanan travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet a family of rare Grauer's gorillas.
Read an article William wrote for the series BBC web page
 Composing the Score