Orchestra tuning up for another season of superb classical music

The Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra (RTWSO) returns for its new 2022/23 season on October 2 at 3pm at the Assembly Hall Theatre.

According to its current chair Frances Armstrong, it promises to be ‘a lively and entertaining programme featuring the brilliant young international pianist Martin James Bartlett.’

“We are delighted to welcome Martin back to play with us for this, his fifth performance with the RTWSO,” explains Frances ahead of this Sunday’s concert.

“He is a firm favourite with our audience and a long-standing friend of the orchestra. The Mozart concerto he performs is flanked by Prokofiev’s masterful symphony written in the classical style and the beautifully crafted ‘Suite No. 3 in G Major’ by Tchaikovsky, a piece bursting with colour, captivating melodies and plenty of orchestral fireworks.”

If you’re not already familiar with the Royal Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra – which turned 100 last year – then it is a vibrant, thriving orchestra at the heart of the South East’s cultural community, especially here in Tunbridge Wells. But if you thought it was all high-brow classical music then think again…


“We take great pleasure in performing an attractive and diverse range of orchestral concerts that are designed to inspire all music lovers,” continues Frances.


“We celebrated our centenary season with a highly-successful series of concerts last year, the culmination of which was a fantastically-received ‘70s Night’ at the Assembly Hall Theatre in May. A whole new audience was introduced to the RTWSO at this unique show, and we hope that many of those new supporters of the orchestra will join us again!”

The RTWSO’s 2022/23 season starts next Sunday (October 2) and promises another series of concerts to inspire and delight audiences.

“Alongside our Music Director and Principal Conductor Roderick Dunk, we will be joined by guest conductors George Vass and Neil Thomson,” adds Frances.

“George will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Vaughan Williams with a special concert in November. The programme includes works by the celebrated English composer, and also features ‘The Three Elizabeths Suite’ by Eric Coates, a particularly poignant piece of programming given the recent death of Her Majesty The Queen,” she says.

“Neil joins us in February, when he will be conducting the brilliant and much-lauded Isata Kanneh-Mason as she performs Prokofiev’s ‘Third Piano Concerto’. Given his current position as Principal Conductor with the Goiás Philharmonic in Brazil, Neil has become an expert on Brazilian music and so we asked him to bring something warm and sunny from Brazil to cheer up our chilly February. ‘Suite Pernambucana’ by Guerra-Peixe is perfect, with its vibrant rhythms and infectious tunes.”

The RTWSO pre-Christmas concert is billed as ‘An Afternoon in Vienna’ but as Frances tells the Times, it is ‘beyond the traditional waltzes and polkas most often associated with Vienna’.

“The programme includes music by composers from Mozart to Richard Strauss, via the ever-popular operettas of Johann Strauss II and Franz Lehár. We are joined for this concert by the brilliantly versatile soprano Rebecca Bottone, who will share with us her affinity with the music of Vienna,” Frances adds.


“We are thrilled to be able to offer such a varied and entertaining season of concerts and look forward to welcoming you to our first performance on October 2,” says Frances.


Later in the season the RTWSO welcomes back Katherine Lacy, one of the country’s most exciting clarinettists, to perform the ‘Copland Concerto’.

“The piece was originally commissioned by Benny Goodman and consequently has a strong jazz influence,” explains Frances.

“In April we see the return of yet another of the RTWSO’s favourite soloists, Callum Smart. Callum will perform Mendelssohn’s popular and well-loved ‘Violin Concerto’. And for this April’s concert, and indeed the season as a whole, ends with the great orchestral showpiece which is Rachmaninoff’s ‘Symphonic Dances’.

So whether you’re swayed towards classical or contemporary – or you just love live music – this might just be the local group to get behind!

Tickets from £22; students and under 18s, £5. More details can be found at: rtwso.org

You can also buy tickets directly from the theatre box office at: assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk/whats-on



The pieces RTWSO will be performing on October 2 at 3pm at The Assembly Hall

PROKOFIEV ‘Classical Symphony, Op. 25’

MOZART ‘Piano Concerto No. 27 in B Major, K. 595’

TCHAIKOVSKY ‘Orchestral Suite No. 3 in G Major, Op. 55’

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