It is fair to say the first concert of the Hemel Symphony Orchestra, under its new conductor Claudio di Meo was an outstanding success. The orchestra formed in 2018 following the final concert of the Dacorum Symphony Orchestra, following the retirement of its conductor Tom Loten.

The HSO is incredibly fortunate to have Claudio di Meo as its new conductor, who has an international reputation as a conductor, pianist and composer. He has toured widely; Russia, Cyprus, Hungary, Sri Lanka, USA, Singapore, India and Germany to mention but a few. Most recently he was named Winner of the International Conducting Competition Westminster London 2018. Locally he also conducts the Dacorum Youth Orchestra and the Lumina Choir.

To come to the music featured in the concert, I would like first of all to repeat a reflection I indulged in some years ago, which none of my colleagues seemed to object to at the time. It follows: ‘The stature of a composer is very much a matter of opinion and personal taste. It cannot be disputed however that with the death of Franz Schubert at age 31 we lost a unique songster whose melody has sweetened the life of the world’. His Unfinished Symphony contains everything the composer has to give including joy and sadness, which never left Schubert and which never failed his creative genius.

The second half of the concert ended with one of Mozart’s greatest works – his Requiem Mass. He was a sick man when he composed it and there is some mystery surrounding the circumstances in which it came to be written. Did he compose it or did his friend Salieri have a hand in it? It should be pointed out that by then, these two musical giants were blessedly reconciled having been bitter rivals in their youth.

Claudio di Meo had on this occasion the inspiration to combine forces – the HSO and the Lumina Choir.

There was a full and extremely appreciative audience and a wonderful atmosphere that few will forget – a truly memorable start for the HSO. Of his first concert with the HSO Claudio wrote ‘I am writing to thank you from the bottom of my heart for such a brilliant performance last Saturday. Well done you all. There was a fantastic energy, incredible atmosphere and your playing has been truly beautiful’.

Philip Worth

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