Concert marks conductor and founder’s milestone birthday

Jul 05, 2014

His ground-breaking work in the city has occupied more than half of his illustrious musical career, the other half has seen him work with a significant number of the great orchestras and choirs throughout the UK. 

Hilary (pictured), who also founded the MK Music Service and MK Chorale, will conduct Much Ado About MK on July 21, a concert of music that continues his desire to provide the Milton Keynes audience with a mixture of the familiar and the less well known.

The Shakespeare connection sits in Stratford upon Avon, the birthplace of the Bard… and of Hilary.

The programme is a celebration of the work of six great composers who were influenced by work of Shakespeare, from the well loved Fantasy Overture from Romeo and Juliet by Tchaikovsky to the lesser-known but magnificent Overture from Macbeth by Sullivan.

Hilary said: “When the orchestra played its first concert in 1975, failure was not an option but in retrospect it is little short of a miracle that the orchestra is still going strong almost 40 years later. “

He reflected on “golden periods” in the orchestra’s development: “Our series of recordings of rare English symphonies, our tour of the eastern USA, the opening season in Milton Keynes Theatre where our audience averaged 90% and collaborations with major international artists whose enthusiasm for the quality of the orchestra was always a delight – and a reassurance.”

There have also been periods of anxiety. “Funding for the Arts is something we in Britain are simply not very good at and far too many organisations have teetered on the brink in the last 25 years,” Hilary said.

“The survival of the orchestra is due to three main factors. Firstly, the quality of the players; I am proud to have conducted such exceptionally gifted artists in so many concerts of such varied repertoire.

“Secondly, the support of the Orchestra’s voluntary Board and finally the loyalty of the Patrons and the MK audience who have kept the aspirations of the Orchestra and its conductors alive with warmth and encouragement. “

The Much Ado About MK concert is sponsored by chartered accountants Keens Shay Keens Milton Keynes and the Milton Keynes Community Foundation. Tickets are still available online through or Amazon Local MK and the Milton Keynes Theatre box office     

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