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Violinist Keith Penfold wrote the below for the Light Music Society magazine about our recent performance of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance No. 6. 

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Magna Sinfonia Strikes Back!




With coronavirus restrictions easing on performing arts ventures, highly acclaimed local amateur orchestra Magna Sinfonia has been welcoming back its members for playing days.

A recent highlight was the return of professional conductor Pete Harrison for the ever-popular ‘Star Wars Suite’. On Sunday 8th August the forces of Magna Sinfonia were reawakened in the hall of Parkstone Grammar School to celebrate the music of John Williams’ sci-fi epic. Intense rehearsals followed with an informal play-through at the end of the day, leading to a new hope for music-making in the months ahead.

A spokesman for Magna Sinfonia commented: ‘It was fantastic to see and hear Magna Sinfonia back together again, and judging from the sound, instruments had not been left in their cases throughout lockdown! We have put together a series of playing days to ease members into the post-Covid orchestral world and are really pleased with how well-received these have been. It has been months of planning to ensure that risk assessments and safety precautions are all in place, however all the hard work  has made it worthwhile for the enjoyment that playing in a high-quality music making environment brings. As an orchestra we pride ourselves on working with a wide variety of professional conductors, and it was particularly pleasing to be able to welcome back the energetic Pete Harrison, who has such a contagious passion for film and stage music.’

Due to restrictions, Magna Sinfonia has not been able to perform formally since February 2019, when the orchestra put on a sold-out concert in collaboration with music hub SoundStorm and local schools for a Beethoven 250 celebration in Christchurch Priory. Plans are afoot for a return to the more traditional concert, with full audiences, from February 2022.

About to enter its fifth season, Magna Sinfonia has quickly earned a reputation as Dorset’s finest amateur orchestra. Magna Sinfonia exists primarily for the musician, devising programmes and rehearsal experiences that focus on the pleasure of playing orchestral music. Their fifth season continues with a playing day of Dvorak’s sixth symphony in September, and Shostakovich’s eleventh symphony in October. Anyone interested in joining Magna Sinfonia and plays to grade 8+ standard, please visit to find out more.

If music be the food of love, play on!


Season opening concert from Magna Sinfonia inspired by the works of William Shakespeare


William Shakespeare’s plays have inspired music and musicians for hundreds of years, from Tchaikovsky to Taylor Swift, Mendelssohn and Metallica.  It is thanks to the Bard that we have one of the most famous ever quotes about music; “If music be the food of love, play on”.

Local orchestra Magna Sinfonia are indeed playing on, as they kick off their fourth season of music making on Saturday 19th October, with conductor Susanna Riddell on the podium, in a concert of music based on the theme ‘Shakespeare in Music’.   

The programme features music inspired by one of the most well-known stories of all time, the tragic lovers Romeo and Juliet.  Countless composers have told the tale of the star-crossed lovers; Magna Sinfonia have chosen excerpts from Prokofiev’s interpretation, including the ‘Dance of the Knights’ which has in recent years become well-known as the theme from BBC TV’s ‘The Apprentice’.

The concert will open with another Shakespearian tragedy, Othello, this time set to the music of Dvořák and from his trilogy of overtures entitled Nature, Life and Love.  William Walton wrote music for many film versions of Shakespeare’s plays, including Henry V, and it is the British composer’s suite from the 1943 Laurence Olivier film of the same name that completes the programme for this Shakespeare themed concert.

Ben Jennings, co-chair of Magna Sinfonia says: "We are delighted to welcome back Susanna Riddell to open our 2019/20 season, with what promises to be an exciting and popular programme of music! If you are yet to see Magna Sinfonia perform, then I urge you to come along and experience the power of a classical orchestra, especially in Prokofiev's wonderful and passionate Romeo & Juliet suites."

Magna Sinfonia’s Shakespeare in Music concert will be held at Bournemouth School for Girls, off Castle Lane,  on Saturday, October 19th at 6pm.  Allocated seating tickets are available priced £10 and £13, Under 18s £2.  To book, visit the website at .


Event: Magna Sinfonia - Shakespeare in Music

Programme: Dvořák - Overture ‘Othello’, Walton - Henry V Suite, Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet Suite
Conductor: Susanna Riddell
Venue: Bournemouth School for Girls, Castle Gate Close, Bournemouth BH8 9JJ
Date: Saturday 19th October 2019
Time: 18:00
Ticket Prices: Allocated seating £10/£13, under 18s £2
To Buy Tickets: 

For further information/images, please contact:  or 07917724288


June is bustin’ out all over!


Pete Harrison and Magna Sinfonia in a concert performance of top tunes from Rodgers & Hammerstein on the Silver Screen - uplifting music you'll want to sing along to.


Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote hundreds of songs, and their musicals have been charming audiences for decades.  The pair joined forces in 1943 with their first stage musical Oklahoma!. An instant hit, Oklahoma! later became Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first movie.


The Rodgers and Hammerstein movies proved to be instantly, massively popular. Oklahoma! ranked as fourth-highest at the box office in 1955. The King and I and South Pacific amassed even larger profits, and The Sound of Music shattered records everywhere.


The Rodgers & Hammerstein legacy continues to flourish and be celebrated by new recordings, stage productions and concerts each year.  On Saturday 8th June 2019, local orchestra Magna Sinfonia return to their regular concert venue, Parkstone Grammar School, with a concert full of music from some of the best of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s great films.  They will be joined by singers from Cantabile Choir and soloists Emma Torrens and Julian Smith in an uplifting performance of ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein on the Silver Screen’. Leading the musicians from the podium is conductor and presenter Pete Harrison.  


Known locally for his work as Guest Conductor with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and as Musical Director of Inspiration Choir, Pete studied at the Royal College of Music, going on to follow a busy freelance playing career, including work in the West End.  It was here that he started conducting. Pete’s film and theatre based concerts with professional orchestras are extremely popular with audiences.


About this concert, Pete said: “Magna Sinfonia came highly recommended to me by conducting colleagues who have worked with the orchestra before, and I’m having such fun working with them on this Rodgers and Hammerstein programme.  I’ve not worked on the film scores before, and they’re a bit different to the musical numbers that are more well known. It’s a really mixed programme, and there’s something in it for everyone.”


Now in its third season, Magna Sinfonia has quickly earned a reputation as Dorset’s finest amateur orchestra.  They perform three main concerts each year, alongside other projects, to give local musicians high quality rehearsing and performing experience.

Allocated seating tickets for Rodgers & Hammerstein on the Silver Screen are available in advance priced £15, £13, under 18s £2 from


So if you’ve always wanted to climb ev’ry mountain and you think Oklahoma’s OK!, come and spend an enchanted evening listening to a few of your favourite things; you’re guaranteed to leave whistling a happy tune!


Event: Magna Sinfonia - Rodgers and Hammerstein on the Silver Screen


Programme: Music from some of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s greatest films, including The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, The King and I, South Pacific, and more!

Conductor: Pete Harrison

Soloists: Emma Torrens and Julian Smith

In Association with Poole's acclaimed Cantabilé Choir

Venue: Parkstone Grammar School, Sopers Lane, Poole BH17 7EP

Date: Saturday 8th June 2019

Time: 19:00

Ticket Prices: Allocated seating £15/£13, under 18s £2

To Buy Tickets:

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