Easter Symphony

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Wednesday 1st April 1998

Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra set to premier 'The Crucifixion Suite' and 'Pentecostal Symphony'

NEARLY 20 years after the London Symphony Orchestra inadvertently left a door open at a recording session in London, a new symphony is set for its world premier - as a direct result. "I was recording some of my own pop songs at Air Studios and the door to Studio One was open where the LSO were recording," explained musician Grenville Richard Harding. "I heard a huge orchestral crescendo and I thought, 'This is for me - this is my sound.'"

It has taken two decades but the seed sown that day will result in the premier of 'The Crucifixion Suite' and 'Pentecostal Symphony' for a 70-piece orchestra at Westminster Central Hall on Good Friday, April 10th at 8.00pm. The project has won financial backing from the Arts Council and support from several Christian organisations. Blues singer and BBC Radio 2 presenter Paul Jones will read the biblical narratives that intersperse each movement.

Birmingham-born Harding, 45, a graduate of the Leeds College Of Music, has carved out a successful professional career playing for a diverse range of people, from Eric Clapton, Alvin Stardust and Magnum to Barbara Windsor, Norman Vaughan and Roy Kinnear. He has recorded for countless TV and radio programmes and had his fair share of life on the road.

"1 have come home late at night, after doing some pretty awful commercial gigs, and written scores for the symphony," says Harding, from Lingfield, Surrey. "For 27 years I have earned a living as a jobbing rock and jazz musician but all the time felt like shouting, 'This isn't what I'm about!' I have written this music in fear and trembling, with real care and concern and after a great deal of Bible reading and prayer. I have set out to express the grief and joy of the Easter story in a musical genre closest to my heart. There is an integrity and depth of emotion possible in symphonic music that cannot be produced in popular music."

Harding will conduct the Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra, formed especially for the occasion and including eight soprano voices. The orchestra will be led by Simon Baggs, whose extensive international work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra gives him a wealth of experience that belies his years. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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