Deena Draycott and John Watson founded J26 Sinfonietta in 2009, bringing together local musicians to perform high quality music. Initially the focus was on music from the Baroque and Classical periods but over the years we have expanded our repertoire to include 20th and even 21st century composers. The name comes from the fact that when we started we rehearsed in a location close to Junction 26 of the M1!
We play throughout Derbyshire and occasionally further afield. We put on our own concerts and have played at the Ripley Music Festival several times. To date we have performed works by composers including Beethoven, Bizet, Glazunov, Gluck, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Sullivan, Suppé and Prokofiev.
As well as performing full orchestral works and occasionally pieces for the strings or wind sections, J26 showcases the talents of local soloists, both from within the orchestra and also specially invited guests. Solo works have included Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E, Cimarosa’s Concerto for Two Flutes, Telemann’s Double Viola Concerto and tenor arias and songs. We were thrilled to twice work with local guitarist and now professional musician Hugh Millington before he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. In 2013 we were privileged to perform the Haydn Cello Concerto with a young Sheku Kanneh-Mason who went on to win the BBC Young Musician of the Year Award just three years later, kick-starting an international career.
Mat is a dynamic woodwind teacher and conductor as well as an accomplished saxophonist. He trained as a conductor under Dr Lee Tsang at the University of Hull and took part in conducting masterclasses with John Watson (concert band) and Adrian Brown (orchestra). Subsequently he has worked with orchestras, concert bands and choirs and also youth ensembles.
Mat is currently the Musical Director of the Mat Davis Orchestra as well as J26 Sinfonietta, having been our conductor since 2014.