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Our musicians

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” Berthold Auerbach

The Sussex Symphony Orchestra is an eclectic mix of both professional and amateur players. Music teachers, full-time players and students sit next to financial advisors, writers, office managers and engineers.

What we have in common is our love of live classical music and our ability to perform to the highest standards on just one rehearsal.

If you live or work in Sussex and would like to join the Sussex Symphony Orchestra, find out more here.

Here are some of our musicians:

Nicola Bates (leader)

Nicola Bates (leader)

Nicola Bates (leader)

“It was quite daunting at first being asked to lead the SSO, especially as my first concert was the huge and terrifying Mahler 1! I have to say a big thank you to Mark for putting me completely at ease within 5 minutes and making me laugh by shouting “stroke it, don’t poke it!” at the cello section.

I have led quite an itinerant existence since leaving college, moving from Glasgow to Liverpool and then spending 2 years playing at the Liceu Opera in Barcelona. I am now living in Brighton and spend part of my time teaching for the Music Service, as well as freelancing around the country and busking regularly in Covent Garden. The SSO is a wonderfully sociable orchestra and it has played a big part in making me feel very welcome and entirely at home in Sussex.”

Helen Beckingham (principal bassoon)

Helen Beckingham (prinicpal bassoon)

Helen Beckingham (prinicpal bassoon)

I’m not a full-time musician. I work as a copywriter and mix this with freelance playing around Sussex. I’m often asked why I started playing the bassoon. Actually, it was curiosity.

When I was 9 years old my primary school music teacher, Mr Green, told me that I should play the bassoon. He said, “I think it would suit you”. I didn’t know what a bassoon was so I asked my dad, and he played me the beginning of Mozart’s Requiem. I was hooked.

I first met Mark in a woodwind section, about 25 years ago when the SSO was a mere glint in his eye. We were playing Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella”, Mark was playing 1st oboe and I seem to remember he went very purple. I’m proud to say that I played at the first ever Sussex Symphony Orchestra concert in Hove Town Hall on the 28th January 1993. I love playing with this orchestra. We have a unique character, a truly distinctive sound and a superb woodwind section (OK, I may be biased). Most importantly, the SSO has the most wonderful man at the front waving his arms around with skill, humour and love. I’m proud to call him my friend.

Finally, I just want to say that the bassoon is without doubt the coolest instrument in the orchestra. I get to play some of the juiciest tunes in the classical repertoire on the most sonorous and flexible of instruments; and nothing can describe the joy, or the unique reedy “razz”, of playing ‘ffff’ alongside 2 bassoons and the filthy beast that is the contra bassoon.  Thank you, Mr Green. You were right.”