The orchestra held a very successful weekend away in 2020 on February 22 and 23 at Abingworth Hall, a delightful HF Holidays hotel at Thakeham, East Sussex at the foot of the South Downs (see pictures below). We spent the weekend playing through lots of music (Schumann: Overture, Scherzo and Finale op 52; Excerpts from Elgar’s Intermezzi from Falstaff; Overture to HMS Pinafore; Dag Wiren: Serenade for Strings; and various light music decets for winds), and generally enjoying a weekend in the country.
These awaydays have been a highlight of the orchestra calendar since the beginning. Members play as an orchestra as well as in small ensembles and spend social time together. In 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 the venue was Headley Park, a pleasant hotel in extensive grounds near Farnham in Hampshire. In 2015 the awayday moved to Chorleywood and then to Abingworth Hall in 2016.
The pandemic prevented any residential weekends in 2021, but we did have a very enjoyable awayday on Saturday June 12 at St Mary’s Mortlake. We played Mozart’s Piano concerto no 22 in Eb and four of Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances.
This year (2022), because of uncertainties about the pandemic, the orchestra regretfully decided not to book a weekend at Abingworth but instead to organise two awaydays – one on Saturday 19 February at St Mary’s Mortlake and another on 21 May at All Saints East Sheen. In February we played movements from Brahms’ symphonies and Tchaikovsky’s Violin concerto, and in May Mendelssohn’s Third Symphony, the first movement of Mozart’s Oboe concerto, Chabrier’s Habanera and a wind sextet.
And here’s an article from the 2012 Richmond U3A newsletter about an away weekend from the orchestra’s early days.