Hull Philharmonic prepares for final concert with ‘beloved leader’

The Hull Philharmonic’s longstanding, popular leader is retiring after 50 years of service.

Violinist Pat Mitchell, who joined in 1973, will lead the orchestra for the final time in a performance at Hull City Hall on Saturday 13 May.

The concert, which will be conducted by guest artist James Ham, features Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, Dvorak’s The Noonday Witch, Liadov’s The Enchanted Lake and Franck’s Les Djinns with piano soloist Graziana Presicce.

Welsh-born Pat led the National Youth Orchestra of Wales in 1966-67 before moving to Beverley and embarking on a long teaching career as head of the music department at Beverley High School.

She said: “I played in my first Hull Phil concert in November 1973, when the famous artist Paul Tortelier performed the Elgar cello concerto. What an amazing introduction!”

Pat was made leader when the orchestra’s former musical director and conductor Andrew Penny MBE took the reins from Terence Lovett in 1982.

“Andrew’s style was innovative, and he inspired in us all a loyalty and commitment to give our best, which led to some thrilling performances. The Hull Phil became an orchestra to which we were all proud to belong,” she said.

“As I look back, I am truly amazed at the range of music we’ve performed. Some of this repertoire has been audaciously challenging.”

“I now have to recognise that 50 years is a significant milestone and probably the appropriate moment to step back.  It’s not an easy decision to make, but it’s the sensible one. I am immensely grateful to have played amongst so many fine musicians, soloists and conductors, and wish the orchestra every success in the exciting future ahead.”

Margaret Pinder, chair of the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, said: “Pat is beloved by both orchestra and audience members alike for her talent, commitment and unassuming generosity.

“She has created an extraordinary legacy of music making in the city and the region through her roles as leader and teacher. We will miss her and wish her all the best.”

The dramatic and lyrical programme, which closes the orchestra’s 2022/23 season, will showcase the talents of local pianist Graziana Presicce and London-based guest conductor James Ham. Both musicians are rapidly making a name for themselves on the concert stage.

James said: “I am looking forward to working with the Hull Philharmonic on this exciting programme. The first half is imbued with tales of folklore and fantasy, and we end the concert with Shostakovich’s monumental response to life under an authoritarian regime.”

The Hull Philharmonic has a track record of long service. Andrew Penny MBE stepped down as musical director in May 2022 after 40 years in the post, and there are a significant number of players who have achieved more than 25 years with the orchestra.

The concert starts at 7:30pm on Saturday 13 May and is preceded by a pre-concert talk, which is free to ticket holders. Tickets are priced from £10 – £28.50. Concessions are available. Please visit Hull Box Office to book your tickets.