A Word from John Gibbons
John Gibbons, Musical Director of the NSO
Our quasquicentennial season is a special one for the orchestra, with each concert connecting in some way to the year of our inception (1893), the Victorian era, or Northampton's rich musical history.
The NSO came into being in the decade variously called the Gay Nineties or the Naughty Nineties. The plays of Oscar Wilde and the art of Aubrey Beardsley were all the rage. Electric lights were a novelty - in fact Northampton turned on its first electric street lights only a year before our founding.
Romanticism was in its heyday in the concert hall, with composers such as Dvorak, Elgar, and Ravel in the beginning or primes of their careers. The decade was also to see the passing of the great Russian composer Tchaikovsky which coincided with the composition and premier of his Sixth Symphony. In America, Scott Joplin was creating the new musical form of ragtime, and composer Amy Beach was breaking new ground at the same time as the early stirrings of the suffragette movement on both sides of the Atlantic.
Northampton had evolved from a medium sized market town of 7000 in 1800 to a bustling manufacturing and trade centre of 83000 in 1890. With growth came opportunities to participate in culture and the arts. The Guildhall was built and opened, as was the Royale Theatre. A small group of musicians and musical enthusiasts formed what was to become the Northampton Symphony Orchestra in 1893.
In the 125 years since, the orchestra has grown to become one of the best community orchestras in the UK. This year each concert will connect in some way to our founding year, the Victorian era, or Northampton's rich musical history. I’m immensely proud and privileged to be part of the history of our orchestra, and to present to you this celebratory season.