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Norwich Philharmonic season finale marks 20 years with the baton for choral conductor

PUBLISHED: 10:04 17 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:08 17 March 2017

David Dunnett conducting Norwich Philharmonic orchestra and chorus at St Andrews Hall. Picture: Bill Smith

David Dunnett conducting Norwich Philharmonic orchestra and chorus at St Andrews Hall. Picture: Bill Smith

Bill Smith © 2015

Conductor and highly respected organist David Dunnett will celebrate two decades with the orchestra by taking charge of performance of Haydn’s The Seasons.

David Dunnett is also the highly respected organist at Norwich Cathedral is a much-loved leading figure in the city�s musical life. Picture: Paul HurstDavid Dunnett is also the highly respected organist at Norwich Cathedral is a much-loved leading figure in the city�s musical life. Picture: Paul Hurst

When the Norwich Philharmonic perform Haydn’s The Seasons this weekend it will see David Dunnett celebrate 20 years as choral conductor.

The highly respected organist at Norwich Cathedral is a much-loved leading figure in the city’s musical life will conducts the final concert of the 2016-17 season at St Andrew’s Hall on March 18.

The Phil Chorus and Norwich Philharmonic Orchestra will be joined by soloists soprano Cecilia Osmond, tenor Mark Dobell tenor and bass Jonathan Brown for the performance.

David Dunnett became organist and Master of the Music at Norwich Cathedral in 1996, and in 2007 returned to the organ loft as cathedral organist, where he now works alongside Master of Music Ashley Grote.

He succeeded Michael Nicholas as choral conductor of the Norwich Philharmonic Society in 1997. Since then he has directed and trained the Phil Chorus for many memorable performances including Britten’s War Requiem, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Berlioz Grande Messe de Morts with the Cambridge Philharmonic at Ely Cathedral in 2015 and most recently Mahler’s epic 8th Symphony at the Norfolk Showground Arena.

David is much-loved by the singers of the Chorus who relish his disciplined approach to choral training liberally seasoned with great fun and good humour. It is clearly an approach that works well because he has produced consistently high standards from the choir over the years with audiences at St Andrew’s Hall hugely enjoying their performances.

David said: “It has been a great privilege to be the Choral Conductor of the Norwich Phil for the last 20 years. It has given me many memorable musical experiences and friends. Norwich should be proud that it has a thriving chorus and orchestra who regularly perform to such a high standard and it has been hugely rewarding to have been part of such a vibrant musical organisation.”

David Dunnett conducting Norwich Philharmonic orchestra and chorus at St Andrews Hall. Picture: Bill SmithDavid Dunnett conducting Norwich Philharmonic orchestra and chorus at St Andrews Hall. Picture: Bill Smith

Caroline Dixey, chairman of the Norwich Philharmonic Society and a singer in the choir, said: “It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years, it’s always a joy rehearsing with David. He works us hard but always makes it fun, and he is a supreme musician so we learn so much from him. And he always knows how to get the best out of us, getting us to sing our hearts out for him and, of course, for our audiences.”

Premiered in 1801, Haydn’s great oratorio The Seasons was the spectacular follow-up to The Creation which had taken Europe by storm, and it features three soloists, chorus and, by late-classical standards, a large orchestra. However, unlike The Creation, it is seldom performed and so this is a rare opportunity to hear this choral masterpiece live.

Nearly 40 members of the Norwich Phil Chorus will be joining the choir of the Musik Institut Koblenz and the Rheinische Philharmonie to perform the work in Norwich’s twin city Koblenz in Germany again on April 28.

The relationship between the two choirs was first established in 1983 and they have collaborated on 16 previous concerts, alternating between Norwich and Koblenz.

Their most recent joint performance was in 2015 singing Beethoven, Bach and Haydn in Norwich. They also collaborated in a moving performance of Britten’s War Requiem in Koblenz on the centenary of the composer’s birth in 2013.

• Norwich Philharmonic: Haydn’s The Seasons, St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, March 18, 7.30pm, £17-£12, £7 students/under-26, 01603 628319, www.norwichphil.org.uk

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