Brothers form orchestra

Edward and Peter Keenan who will both be playing and conducting at The Maltings after establishing the Milne Graden Chamber Orchestra
Edward and Peter Keenan who will both be playing and conducting at The Maltings after establishing the Milne Graden Chamber Orchestra

ITS members have barely been practising a month but there’s a big moment for the Milne Graden Chamber Orchestra when they make their debut at The Maltings on Sunday.

The group, founded by Peter and Edward Keenan, who as it’s title suggests are from Milne Graden, near Coldstream, will perform works by Beethoven and Mozart in the Berwick theatre’s Henry Travers Studio from 7.30pm.

Twenty two year old Peter has recently completed a degree in music at the University of York and Edward (17) is following in his footsteps by studying at St Mary’s in Edinburgh.

Peter has ambitions to travel the continent to learn more about conducting and ultimately test out his new found skills and told ‘The Berwickshire News’ that leading his own orchestra was the perfect place to start.

“I’d really like to travel Europe to study conducting and this is the first logical step to take,” he said.

“Myself and Ed both play the viola and after performing in a number of orchestras ourselves we thought it would be good to have one of our own.

“I first had the idea a while ago but it’s in the last month that things have really come together.

“There aren’t many orchestras who regularly rehearse in the area but fortunately finding members hasn’t been too hard.

“We’ve been generously helped by people who’ve been involved in similar things who have provided contact details of people who might be interested or got in touch with them to let them know about the orchestra.”

And Peter and Ed’s rallying call for members clearly worked as the Milne Graden Chamber Orchestra now boasts 25 talented members, playing everything from the flute to the cello.

Peter said he wanted the orchestra to be a real cross-Border project, meaning its musicians are spread far and wide.

And Peter admitted that with considerable distance between the most northerly and southerly members, getting everyone together to rehearse hasn’t been so easy.

“Practising has been the hard bit. We are still due to have our first full rehearsal but I’m confident it will be a success.

“I wanted to make the orchestra as inclusive as possible so I tried to get the word out to as many people as I could.

“There are members from both north Northumberland and Berwickshire as well as a few from Alnwick, Morpeth way, a few from Hawick and fingers crossed some friends from Edinburgh and York should also be travelling to Berwick to play in the concert.”

To hone his conducting skills Peter will lead two performances and will also pick up his viola to perform as well. As fans of both Beethoven and Mozart, he and Edward didn’t have too think too hard about whose music to feature in their repertoire and Peter is hoping the hastily assembled orchestra will do their famous works justice.

“It’s all been very spontaneous,” he continued.

“I am kind of nervous about Sunday’s show; I would have liked a bit more time to prepare but all of our musicians play to a very high standard and having played with some of them before I know they can deliver.

“It was really down to Miles’ (Gregory, The Maltings chief executive) that the gig came about. I’m very grateful for his support and I’m really looking forward to performing in the Henry Travers Studio.”

The Milne Graden Chamber Orchestra’s inaugural concert on Sunday will feature Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture and Symphony No.2 and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Peter and Edward are also pleased to be welcoming clarinet soloist Jonathan Sage, a pupil of the internationally renowned clarinetist, Alan Hacker.

Tickets are £5 and under-12s get in for free.