Remarkable recording series will be Sussex orchestra founder's legacy

As Stephen Neiman – CEO of the Arundel-based Hanover Band – says, out of adversity comes opportunity.

Wednesday, 26th August 2020, 7:02 am
Caroline Brown

On August 30 at Arundel Town Hall, the Hanover Band offer the fourth and last of their concerts for this year’s virtual Arundel Festival of the Arts – a live concert, but with no audience, streamed instead (tickets on https://thehanoverband.com/concert/) As they do so, they are also embarking on a major recording project – one they hadn’t dreamt of until the pandemic forced them off the concert stage.

This is the Hanover Band’s 40th birthday, and their founder Caroline Brown (1953-2018) had planned to mark their anniversary with a major series of concerts also celebrating Beethoven’s big anniversary – his 250th birthday in December this year.

Caroline, who died from cancer two years ago, had been working on the concert series from her hospital bed.

However, the Hanover Band managed just the first of the series in London in March before lockdown struck.

Now instead, in addition to their Arundel streaming events, the orchestra is getting together to record all of the Beethoven symphonies, except 9. The recording, which runs from late August to early September, will lead to a series of releases on a weekly basis from October through to the anniversary of Beethoven’s birthday in December.

“That’s what has come out of this all,” Stephen says, “and we can only do this because we can reclassify the place where we are recording as a workplace – as long as we are compliant with all the regulations. The players will be two metres away from each other with screens between the wind players and the string players, and the string players will have to wear masks. If we do all that, then it can work.

“And I have been absolutely amazed at the amount of support we have had from West Sussex people for the project. People have dug deep. We have raised £163,000 for 14 days of recording. It will fund the crew, the audio time, post-production….

“It has been one hell of a project. Two of the big trusts have given us £25,000 each. A lot of patrons have coughed up £1,000 each. We have still got £21,000 to get, but we can be seeking donations during the streamings of the concerts.

“The main point is to provide work for self-employed musicians who would otherwise be destitute, and the longer this goes on, the more problems there are going to be.”

The recordings reflect Caroline’s ambitions in founding the orchestra four decades ago. The Hanover Band comprises some of the best period instrument specialists in the UK. They are considered to be some of the best in their field.

But the orchestra was set up with a specific aim. Caroline formed The Hanover Band in 1980 to perform and record Beethoven on 19th-century contemporary instruments and in a performance style which Beethoven would have recognised.Caroline researched and commissioned work to be undertaken to produce what are now known as urtext (the earliest version of a text) editions of all the Beethoven symphonies.

Caroline passed away in February 2018 after six years of fighting cancer. Her artistic legacy lives on in The Hanover Band and with the number of students and professionals that she had nurtured over the years.

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