At St Saviour’s Church, they offered a programme featuring Glinka Ruslan and Lyudmila Overture; Schumann Symphony No 3 (Rhenish); and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 2.
Conductor Graham Jones said: “I had the feeling that everybody wanted it all to happen. It was very strange to start rehearsing again and be meeting people that you hadn’t seen for pretty much two years, and to start with I think we were all thinking ‘Crumbs, can we still do this?’ But once we had had the first rehearsal, things began to gather momentum. We started rehearsing at the beginning of October and there was a gale that night.
“And I was thinking that just two men and a dog would turn up but no, they were all there. And I think that says that they really wanted to do it.
“I think musicians have had a very tough time. I have known professional musicians who haven’t picked up their instrument for a year.
“We all cope with things in different ways and it was very interesting to see how we managed.
“The mood was cautious to start with but as soon as we had done the first rehearsal everybody was getting back into it and it was obvious it was what they really wanted to do.
“People were maybe rusty but not after that first rehearsal. Any rustiness had disappeared by the following week.
“I think for many people if you are playing a musical instrument for that long it takes perhaps a little while for the finger muscles to get back and to remind themselves of the movements.
“But it is absolutely not something you forget!”
As for that first concert: “I think it went pretty well.
“I think we had been indoctrinated with a certain amount of doom and gloom beforehand.
“I was worried that audiences would not want to come back out.
“But in the end people turned up and we had an audience of nearly 200 which is a bit more than we would normally get and that was tremendous.
“Would that all concerts were like that!
“It was like being back in the old concert routine and I hope that we are back for good!”
After the autumn concert, ESO will be looking forward to the 34th Annual Young Soloist Competition. The first round will be on January 22 and 23 2022; the final round will be on Sunday, February 13.
Next will be the spring choral concert: Haydn The Creation, Sunday, May 8 at St Saviour’s Church, conductor Graham Jones, leader Lisa Wigmore, soprano Rachel Shouksmith, tenor Andrew Mackenzie-Wicks and bass Christopher Dixon with Eastbourne Symphony Chorus and Eastbournian Society Chorus. The summer concert Sunday, June 26 at 7pm at St Saviour’s Church, programme to be confirmed, is followed by the 2022 autumn concert on Sunday, October 23 at 7pm, again at St Saviour’s Church. More details are available from Eastbourne Symphony Orchestra’s website.