History of the Orchestra
The Sussex Concert Orchestra was formed in 1988 to provide an orchestral outlet for the many instrumental teachers, semi-professional players, and other talented musicians in and around Sussex. The first concert was conducted by Sir Philip Ledger, who became President of the Orchestra. Subsequent concerts were directed by other guest conductors.
Some years later the orchestra invited Kenneth Roberts to become its regular director of music and since then he has conducted the majority of performances.
The orchestra has also been directed by a series of distinguished guest conductors, including Sir Philip Ledger and Colin Metters. Guest soloists have included Crispian Steele-Perkins, Benjamin Luxon and Paul Lewis. The orchestra has performed at many festivals and venues including the Rye Festival, Battle Festival, Hastings Old Town Festival and Ashburnham Place. It has recently enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the Hastings Musical Festival accompanying the Piano Concerto Competition finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and is delighted this year to welcome the winner of the instrumental concerto class, Amber Emson as guest soloist.
Sussex Concert orchestra also appears with Opera South East, Bexhill Choral Society and regularly at the Bexhill Festival.
Kenneth Roberts was born in Hastings and educated at York University where he gained BA and MA degrees in music. He works as Conductor/Musical Director for numerous companies at home and abroad and has conducted over 250 opera, ballet and other theatrical productions.
He has played and conducted at many prestigious venues including The Royal Albert Hall, The Festival Hall, The Britten Theatre, Kensington Palace and Hampton Court. His second opera, ‘Mister Butterfly,’ which he wrote in 1994 was premiered in Hong Kong and subsequently performed at the Edinburgh Festival, and featured in a documentary shown by BBC television and BBC World Service Satellite. Between 2001-2011 he worked at the University of New Hampshire, USA, where he directed a new ‘African’ Musical, that he was commissioned to write, and also composed music for an award-winning ‘international’ children’s piece. He was also musical director and conductor for Plymouth State University's Educational Theatre Collaborative. In 2002 he fulfilled a commission from the Purcell School in association with the Vaughan-Williams Trust as part of their centenary celebrations to mark the birth of Sir William Walton and in 2007 he completed a commission to write a ballet based on the novel ‘The Trumpet Major’ by Thomas Hardy. In 2010 he also contributed music for the recently published musical version of ‘Pollyanna’ and also became a BIFF (British and International Federation of Festivals) adjudicator. His highly acclaimed reduced orchestral arrangements of operatic scores by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini and others are currently being played all over the world and are available from ‘www.smallscores.com’In between times he has enjoyed giving his series of lecture recitals around the country at music clubs, and on cruise liners on subjects ranging from Mozart to ‘Jelly Roll’ Morton and has just released a CD of piano music entitled ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes.’