Looking back at the són debut concert – a brief retrospective

We’re now quite a few weeks beyond the incredible són launch concert late last year – in fact we’re moving beyond Valentine’s Day and nudging nearer to the NEXT exciting són event – Eroica Unwrapped with John Suchet. But now is as good a time as any to look back at the delights of that incredible day – our Sibelius Unwrapped launch.

To keep you all from drifting off-piste as we hurtle through this retrospective, we’ve numbered and bullet-pointed. Always good for discipline. So, pay attention, we’re ready for off – here’s our list of the TOP TEN toppest things from our launch concert:

1. We sold out

Doesn’t need much fluffing up, this one. Goes without saying this made us very, very happy. It was very possibly helped by simultaneous articles, during the run-up to our launch, in Slipped Disc, and Amati Magazine – as well as a whole-page article in the Daily Echo under the headline “Here comes the són”. All of which generated considerable local momentum, and dramatically increased national awareness of són and our mission.

Of course, it could’ve been the crafty flyering campaign in the local Oxfam Music Shop (we know at least a couple of audience members were seduced by that cunning ruse), but only our marketing team will know for sure…

In fact, not only did we sell out, but those lovely people at Turner Sims pushed the boundaries and released extra, last-minute seats because demand was so high. And everyone STILL got a free slice of cake in the interval.

2. The capacity crowd loved it

This was the word on the street – supplemented by word of mouth during and after, via twitter and other channels, and also via our audience page and feedback forms.

“What an inspiration”
“Perfect way to spend a Sunday Afternoon – when  is the next concert?”
“What a splendid addition són is to the Southampton scene”

Comments like these make all the hard work worthwhile. You can read more of them here

John Denham (Chairman of Southampton Cultural Development Trust) shares his thoughts with són Artistic Director Robin Browning after the performance

3. We celebrated Sibelius in some style

Of course we did. How could we not?! It’s not every year musicians get to celebrate such an extraordinary composer. We knew the timing was ideal – our launch coinciding with his 150th. Amongst the capacity crowd were the Honorary Finnish Consul, the Finnish Cultural Attaché, and a large bunch of wonderful Sibelians from Sibelius ONE – the International Sibelius Society.

4. We even squeezed in a UK PREMIERE

A last-minute addition! Andrew Barnett, manager of Sibelius ONE, gained permission on behalf of són from the Sibelius family only days before the concert, allowing us to give the UK premiere of the composer’s original version of the Impromptu for Strings. Thank you, Andrew.

The stunning birthday cake, commissioned by són to celebrate their launch and Sibelius’s 150th birthday

5. We enjoyed a wonderful slice of cake. Or two.

són decided that, as this was a DOUBLE birthday celebration, we jolly well ought to get a nice big cake. So we did. Slicing into the icing during the post-concert reception, our Artistic Director showed he was far less adept with a kitchen knife than a baton.

Robin Browning swaps baton for kitchen knife

6. The orchestra were on fire

And, by all accounts, loved it too. Musicians are a hardy bunch – they have to be. A wet Sunday in late November isn’t every player’s idea of fun, especially when threatened with a photographer and film-maker, too. However, not only did the són players respond impeccably to the usual demands made on professional instrumentalists – time-constraints, odd lighting, zoom-lens-in-face – but they even seemed to enjoy it. They played fabulously, of course – testament not only to their skill and great pedigree, but also to their wide-open hearts, incredible awareness, and inclination towards healthy risk-taking on stage. They worked triple-quick in rehearsal, embracing the inevitable variables of a new ensemble openly, readily and deftly. And played with fire and finesse in the concert. Bravo, one and all.

són, mid-Sibelius, in front of a capacity crowd

7. And they also had fun

Not only on stage, but also in the impromptu (forgive the pun) studio which Chris Christodoulou – our resident photographer for the whole day – set-up in the Turner Sims green room. It wasn’t all musical sweat and toil for the players…

For proof of their lighter-hearted side, head over to our new Portrait Gallery

8. Our souvenir programmes were amazing. Or so we were told…

Full of glossy photos, cleverly-curated articles and even a gingerbread recipe, they sold like hot-cakes. Or hot-gingerbread, if you prefer. Missed picking one up? Then you’re in luck: read the whole thing on our publications page.

David Owen Norris (L) and Robin Browning taking a break during rehearsals

9. David Owen Norris unwrapped it all brilliantly

David was his usual, indefatigable self. An inspirational musical personality, he brought the music of Sibelius to life during the “Unwrapped” first half. David captured the audience’s imagination with his signature blend of knowledge, charisma and disarming delivery. He was rather funny, too.

You can see són and David in action in our new film from the concert here – it’s the first film on our new Video page.

10. We brought a new cultural voice to the fore

The team behind són brought a strong newcomer onto the UK’s musical stage that day. The response in the hall was overwhelming. We must be doing something right if we sell-out, and people are clamouring for more. són made a real impact, and will continue doing so not only on the concert stage, but also in education work around the city and throughout the region over the coming months.

We have big plans. We’re ambitious about getting our orchestra, as well as our powerful message and all this incredible music, out there to audiences across the south. And, in due course, to all of you, wherever you are, via live-streaming and through our first downloadable tracks.

Now all eyes are on the future – looking towards our next concert, our next “Unwrapping” in collaboration with John Suchet, and our rapidly-expanding musical adventures. Stay with us, and if you’ve not been before, join us on our journey.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your support – són would never have existed, least of all lifted off the ground, without you.

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