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Winter 2009

Our Next Concert – Friday 13 th November

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, 7.45 pm

THE LONDON CONCERTANTE

 

This celebrated group of string musicians will be bringing us a delightfully varied programme of popular works by Mozart, Rossini, Samuel Barber, Elgar, Holst and Bartok, as previously advertised. The London Concertante has earned high praise at home and abroad. To whet your appetite, here are some quotations from reviews of their playing.

 

‘Quality musicians. Quite excellent…pursuing each new pulse with the unanimity of a school of fish….tone as soft as velvet, bow strokes that really sing…’ (Evening Standard)

 

‘Played with silky-toned elegance…extraordinary unanimity. The London Concertante members, fine chamber musicians that they are, played with an uncanny clarity of texture…quite exquisite.’ (The Strad)

 

‘Drum-tight. This is superb chamber playing.’ (The Scotsman)

BBC Proms Celebrate

One of the featured composers celebrated in this year’s BBC Proms Festival at the Royal Albert Hall was our Musical Director, John McCabe, whose 70 th birthday was earlier this year. Two works by John were performed; of particular note was his recent Horn Concerto, which was given its London premiere on 5 th September by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. The soloist was former Young Musician of the Year, David Pyatt. Geoff Brown, in ‘The Times’, was warm in his appreciation of Pyatt, for his ‘mellifluous’ playing, and of John, for ‘the friendly craftsmanship…. a contemporary composer who actually communicates’. Before the concert John was the guest at a Pre Prom Interview with Stephen Johnson in the Royal College of Music. He explained that the contrasting elements in the Horn Concerto were inspired by the impact made upon him by the equatorial rain forest, on the one hand, and by big band jazz music, on the other. Students of the RCM also played some of John’s chamber music including his Cello Sonata, during the interview.

 

Celebrations have continued through the year with John being much in demand both as a composer and concert pianist. During the Three Choirs’ Festival in Hereford, in August, John was Composer-in-Residence where two new works by him were premiered. He gave the Wulstan Atkins Memorial Lecture on Joseph Haydn and his piano sonatas. More of John’s works were performed at a special Birthday Concert in the Cadogan Hall, in London, on 24 th September. John himself was piano soloist and was joined by the Kings’ Singers and the Sacconi Quartet, both of whom have performed for SMS. Also, at the esteemed Presteigne Festival, seven composers wrote fantasies in honour of John and of Haydn.

 

Swale Festival Invitation

We have received an invitation from Swale Borough Council to provide a summer classical concert during the Swale Festival next year. SMS would be delighted to respond, as we have in the past. It is an opportunity to participate more widely in the local musical scene. Unfortunately, the approach came too late for us to include such a concert in our budgeted plans for the 2009/10 season. SBC have offered financial help, but this is not sufficient to enable us to meet the considerable costs that would be involved. We are hoping for a meeting to discuss this.

 

Any one for Treasurer? – Please!

Our need for a Treasurer is now urgent. The Treasurer does not need to be well informed about classical music. We are looking for someone comfortable with book keeping. It would not be too onerous a task, as the Society’s accounts are not complex. Could it possibly be you? Or do you know someone whom you could approach or suggest to the Committee. Offers and suggestions please to SMS Company Secretary, Jeane Holmes (contact details below).

 

From the AGM

The following were elected Directors of the Society:

Peter Morgan (Chairman) 01795 423215 – petermorgan65@tiscali.co.uk

Jeane Holmes ( Co. Secretary) 01795 423589 – jeaneholmes@blueyonder.co.uk

John McCabe (Artistic Director) 01795 423551 – jnomccabe@talktalk.net

Monica McCabe (Artistic Administrator)) – as above

Miles Attwell (Communications) 01795 477233 – milespatattwell@aol.com

David Williams (Newsletter) 01634 372545 – wendyanddavid@talktalk.net

(Co-opted) Sandra Payne 01795424731 – sandrajpayne@blueyonder.co.uk

 

Deficit in 2008/9

The Annual Accounts for 2008/9 revealed a disappointing deficit of income over expenditure of £2,580. The draft report was presented by the Chairman, in the absence of a treasurer, and accepted, having been scrutinised by the accountant examiners, McCabe Ford Williams. The Directors agreed to look into comments and recommendations made by the examiner.

Continuing to increase our membership and size of audience is the only sure way to build a secure future. Pass on the word among your friends and acquaintences, or invite one other person to come with you.

 

Links with Schools

John McCabe expressed the Society’s gratitude to Sittingbourne Community College, for their co-operation and use of their hall for most SMS concerts. However, he was disappointed at the failure of music departments, in local schools generally, to make use of the concerts and workshops which SMS offers.

 

REMEMBER: First Concert in 2010

Linos Wind Quintet

Sittingbourne Community College , 26 th February, 7.45 pm

Summer 2009

COMMITTEE MATTERS

As some of you may already be aware, our already too small Committee has been

decimated, as Julie and David Burns, Secretary and Treasurer respectively, are moving to another area. We wish the family well in their new home, and are most grateful for their efforts on our behalf. Meanwhile, Jeane Holmes will hold the post of Company Secretary as well as Membership Secretary. At the time of writing, we are still actively searching for a new permanent Treasurer – any offers please, for this position, or any other? Meanwhile, our member Sandra Payne has kindly agreed to be co-opted on to the Committe for next season, to assist in various capacities. I can’t say how grateful we are.

There is further trauma, in that Jeane Holmes, now holding two posts for us, had a bad fall in June. Again, at the time of writing, she is still in Medway Maritime Hospital, receiving surgery and medical treatment to a knee. This happened while John and I were on a concert tour in Israel, so our knowledge of the details is sketchy. We do wish her a speedy recovery, and all good wishes too, to Ben, her husband.

With all the pressures on the remaining Committee (and Peter Morgan is also very tied up with matters relating to the recent archeological discoveries locally), we are desperate for help, if only temporarily. John has been under enormous pressure of work due to his 70 th birthday celebrations, with concerts and recitals in many parts of the country, and his time has been almost entirely taken up with this, and writing new commissions for the Three Choirs Festival and the Proms. We are hopeful that a brochure will be available before long, for what will be a shortened season in 2009/10, and that the SMS will rise phoenix-like next year from these very heavy demands.

MMcC

LOOKING FORWARD Our next season, 2009/10, only has three concerts – this is due to the pressure of work on those of us who organise the events, leading to a serious lack of time to do any more (which in turn is due to the lack of volunteers coming forward to help!). We have, however, three fascinating concerts, which should be extremely enjoyable, all very different and of the high standard we have maintained throughout our first five seasons. They are:

 

 

Friday 13 th November 2009 at 7.45 in the Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College: The LONDON CONCERTANTE, a crack group of string players giving us a programme of well-loved and inspiring string orchestra works (this almost qualifies as our first orchestral concert!): delightful pieces by Mozart and Rossini, the Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber, two popular English works (Elgar’s Serenade for Strings and Holst’s St Paul’s Suite), with a rousing and tuneful finish to the concert in Bartok’s Rumanian Folk Dances.

 

Friday 26 th February 2010 at 7.45 in the Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College: the outstanding young ensemble the LINOS WIND QUINTET, several of whom hail from Faversham, give us another varied programme, starting with music from the Classical tradition in Reicha’s Wind Quintet in B flat, a rare and richly rewarding Romantic wind quintet by Klughardt (come and find out about him – this is a splendid piece), and several 20 th century works in which entertainment is the watchword, by Ibert and Paul Patterson (both works of standard and popular wind repertoire) and Hindemith’s Kleine Kammermusik. Don’t let the title put you off – this is a work from the 1920s and very much of its time in its humour, satire and romance. The programme is completed by Holst’s Wind Quintet, an early and enchanting piece giving us our second taste of this great composer this season.

 

Friday 23 rd April 2010 at 7.45 pm in Tunstall Parish Church: we’re delighted to be returning to this venue, which so many members enjoyed last time we were there, for a recital by JOHN TURNER (recorder), also making a welcome return visit in response to many requests, and the soprano LESLEY-JANE ROGERS, well-known for her appearances with the Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society. Their programme ranges from Canzonets by Thomas Morley and duos

by Dowland to a charming song-cycle by John Joubert, the Three Flower Songs by Arnold Cooke, whose death a year or so ago robbed Kent of one of its outstanding composers, and the first performance of a short work by the Liverpool composer and harpsichordist Bridget Fry . An unusual programme, but it promises to be very special.

 

MEMBERSHIP Our Membership increased last season to 60. However, we need to increase this still further – membership enables us to keep going, and without support of this kind it is extremely hard for any arts group to prosper. Think of it as the artistic equivalent of membership of the National Trust or English Heritage!

Winter 2008

SMS At Home : Young Kent Musicians

Friday 13 th February 2009, 7.45 pm
Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

Svyatoslav Antipov Harriet Burns Jasper Brownrigg

 

The Sittingbourne Music Society changes tack completely for the next concert to showcase Kent-nurtured young musical talent, in a special ‘AT HOME’ event, starring the young singers Harriet Burns (soprano) and Jasper Brownrigg (tenor), accompanied by Kris Thomsett, together with young solo pianist Svyatoslav Antipov (‘Slava’). Also starring in the event will be the well-known local personality and raconteur Pauline Panton, with some of her humorous and dramatic monologues.

 

Harriet hails from Sittingbourne, and was heard last year in a splendid short solo role in Handel’s Saul, with the Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society. She has undertaken masterclasses with such well-known singers as the great Sir Willard White, and has been offered scholarships at both the Royal Academy of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

 

Jasper is currently in his fourth year at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he has taken leading roles in College productions, and also with such organisations as the National Youth Music Theatre. Jasper comes from Faversham, and he and Harriet will be singing songs by Haydn, as well as popular operatic duets, including Mozart and Messager. Their accompanist will be 17-year-old Kris Thomsett, from Teynham, who is Organ Scholar at King’s, Rochester.

 

Finally, Svyatoslav Antipov, who was born in Russia but now lives in Thanet, will be playing works by Chopin, Beethoven and Ravel. Slava is studying at the Purcell School, Britain’s oldest specialist school for talented young musicians, and he has taken part in concerts in London (Wigmore Hall), Liverpool and Manchester, as well as appearing many times in the Deal Festival’s Young Performers platform.

 

We’re particularly grateful to Pauline Panton for her contribution. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she has taught speech and drama and played leading roles in major productions throughout Kent, winning the first County Drama award for best actress in Kent.

 

This fascinating range of talent will be on display at Sittingbourne Community College, on Friday 13 th February 2009 at 7.45 pm. Admission for members is, of course, free as part of membership – tickets for non-members are only £5 (£1 for under 18s), including a glass of wine or soft drink.

 

The Atrium String Quartet of St Petersburg

Friday 13 th March 2009, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

Craig Ogden (guitar)

Friday 5 th June 2009, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

The Atrium Quartet of St Petersburg Craig Ogden

The last two concerts of this season present a wonderful array of repertoire, performed by internationally celebrated artists. The Atrium String Quartet of St Petersburg, our first Russian visitors, won First Prize and the Audience Prize in the 2003 London International String Quartet Competition, and in 2007 were unanimously elected winners of the 5 th International String Quartet Competition in Bordeaux. Founded in 2000 in the St Petersburg Conservatoire, they have been immensely successful with audiences all round the world, and made their CD debut recording for EMI Classics. They are giving us Mozart’s beautiful last Quartet in F, Walton’s scintillating A minor Quartet, alternately romantic and jazzy, and Tchaikovsky’s powerful last Quartet, in E flat minor, ranging from sadness to joyous celebration.

It is a great pleasure to welcome the outstanding guitarist Craig Ogden for a return visit. His international career takes him all over the world, and he continues to be very busy in the recording studio. Apart from educational work, to which he is deeply committed, Craig also pursues his interest in cross-over and jazz musics, working with jazz and pop musicians across a wide spectrum. Craig will be giving us a programme reflecting the whole repertoire of the guitar from Dowland, Bach and Britten to popular light numbers from Spanish composers.

 

NEWSLESSER We apologise that this is a mini-sized Newsletter. it has of course been quite a hard start to the year, what with frost, snow and ice. Bugs have also played a part, in my case a particularly vicious introduction to the well-known Norovirus, which I find lives up fully to its English name.

 

Pressure of time rests very heavily on us this year also. John celebrates his 70 th birthday in April (just as a hint, they always play the National Anthem on that day). He has a very full year of both playing and composing, and since he seldom blows his own trumpet, perhaps he’ll allow me to say that he’s already written a piano-duet work for Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa (do you remember their lovely concert a season or so ago?), and another short piece for the King’s Singers, so far this year. In addition, there are many special performances and residencies through the year.

 

Another 70 th birthday which must be trumpeted is that of Jeane Holmes, our stalwart Membership Secretary, when just after Christmas her family surprised her totally with a special celebration Birthday Party.

 

Some of you may also know Dr Sheila Doak, who has for many years been a leading organiser of the Faversham Music Club. She has just celebrated her 80 th birthday, and apart from a bit of back trouble she is still going strong, and is proud of the fact that she is still an employed, NI-paying citizen. An amazing achievement!

 

CREDIT CRUNCH Whoever patented that phrase (I hope they did) is probably the only person still making a fortune…The credit crunch, and problems over venues and dates, have led to delays in setting-up next season’s concerts. However, we hope to have news about them soon, and although it may possibly be a smaller season than of late, we believe it will still be exciting and enjoyable. MMcC

 

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

28th February: Whitstable Music Club: Whitstable Methodist Church, 7.30 pm: Tradescant Wind Trio

12 th March: Faversham Music Club: Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, 8 pm: piano recital by John McCabe

14 th March: Rochester Choral Society: Rochester Cathedral 7.30: Mendelssohn (Hymn of Praise), Haydn, Brahms

Autumn 2008

Mark Bebbington (piano)

Friday 10 th October 2008, 7.45 pm
Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

Mark Bebbington César Franck

 

The critical plaudits which have greeted Mark Bebbington’s performances and recordings have singled him out as a young British pianist of the rarest refinement and maturity. Increasingly recognised as a champion of British music, Mark has recorded extensively for SOMM “New Horizons” label to unanimous critical acclaim. He was awarded the front cover photo feature for the June edition of International Record Review magazine. His disc of the piano version of Elgar’s First Symphony attracted a 5***** rating in November 2007 BBC Music Magazine and an earlier disc – piano music by Constant Lambert and Malcolm Arnold – was Editor’s Choice in February 2007 Gramophone magazine.

 

While at the Royal College of Music, Mark won numerous international awards and prizes, and later studied in Italy with the legendary Aldo Ciccolini, who said of his Paris debut recital it was “one of the most brilliant debuts I have witnessed in the capital”. He has toured extensively throughout Central and Northern Europe as well as the Far East and North Africa. He has appeared with the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Orchestras, London Mozart Players and the Orchestra of the Swan, at all the major London concert halls and at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, and he has featured both as concerto soloist and recitalist on television and radio in Britain and Europe.

 

No less a passionate advocate of the Viennese classics, Mark is also establishing a reputation as a refined and elegant exponent of French music, and his programme reflects all aspects of his repertoire, from Beethoven’s powerful AppassionataSonata and some DebussyPreludes to a group of virtuoso operatic paraphrases by Liszt (from Verdi’s Rigoletto and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde) and Joubert, the composer of the popular carol Torches (his Lyric Fantasy on themes from his own opera Jane Eyre). A highlight of the programme will also be César Franck’s masterpiece, Prelude, Chorale and Fugue.

 

The Mark Bebbington piano recital is on Friday 10 th October, at the Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue, Sittingbourne, ME10 4NL, at 7.45 pm.


Text Box: Operatic Paraphrases became a piano phenomenon during the 19th century, when many virtuoso pianists followed the example of Liszt and wrote piano fantasies based on the themes from popular operas of the day. Liszt’s, however, stand out from the rest by virtue of his understanding of the psychology of the operas, as well as the style of their composers, and his brilliant expansion of the possibilities of the keyboard. Taking inspiration from other music was nothing new – many Renaissance masses, and even earlier works, took their themes not from liturgical sources but from currently popular songs, and folksong too was a constant source of inspiration. In his Paraphrases of the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto he explored both piano virtuosity and the dramatic context of the operas and their characters. And, of course, works like this gave people the opportunity of hearing music otherwise restricted to the opera houses. In more recent times, his tradition has been followed by many composers, including Busoni and most recently John Joubert, in the romantic Lyric Fantasy on themes from his own opera Jane Eyre.

Franz Liszt Richard Wagner Giuseppe Verdi

 

The Brass Quintet of the London Philharmonic Orchestra

Friday 14 th November 2008, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

 

The 2007/08 season saw the 75 th Anniversary of the London Philharmonic, one of the world’s leading orchestras, known particularly for both their sensitive musicianship and their brilliant technical aplomb. For several years, they have presented an immensely successful series of chamber concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, and among these groups their Brass Quintet, comprised of their leading brass players, gave a particularly memorable programme in February 2008 – our Artistic Director, who has for many years had a close professional relationship with the orchestra, was lucky enough to be present, and immediately expressed a wish to bring this brilliant quintet to Sittingbourne. They are repeating much the same programme, including new arrangements of music by Jeremiah Clarke (of Trumpet Voluntary fame) and that excellent composer (not joking) King Henry VIII. The elements of tunefulness and catchy rhythms found in these early works are echoed in two outstandingly popular more recent pieces, the Brass Quintet No 1 by Malcolm Arnold, now a staple in the brass repertoire, and, equally well established, the enchanting Music-Hall Suite by Joseph Horovitz, a brilliant and highly entertaining pastiche of Victorian songs. Horovitz is best-known perhaps for his themes for TV series such as Rumpole of the Bailey, but his output is enormous, ranging from ballets and chamber opera to string quartets and concertos – his Music-Hall Suite brings an entertaining programme to a riotous conclusion.

 

Horovitz was born in Vienna in 1936 and emigrated to England in 1938. He studied music at New College, Oxford, while acting as an official lecturer in music appreciation to the Forces and giving piano recitals in army camps. After taking his degrees, he studied composition with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music and then with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He became Music Director of the Bristol Old Vic, where he composed, arranged and conducted the incidental music for two seasons. He later held positions as conductor to the Ballet Russes, associate director of the Intimate Opera Company, on the music staff at Glyndebourne, and as guest composer at the Tanglewood Festival, USA. He won numerous major awards including the Commonwealth Medal for Composition, a Leverhulme Research Award and, later, the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art First Class, and the Cobbett Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians for services to chamber music.

 

Brass Consort music has been a familiar part of the musical scene for centuries. In part this stems from their use as ceremonial music for fanfares and the like, so it is not surprising that composers over many years have found it rewarding to write music specially for brass groups. Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’ e forte is a familiar standard piece from the 16th Century, and there are many similar pieces, both written for specific occasions and for private entertainment, from many countries – there is an especially strong tradition in Germany of writing Turmmusik (Tower Music, for performance out of doors from church and town-hall towers). With the advent in the second half of the 20 th century of specialist concert groups such as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, brass chamber music has had a new, immensely popular lease of life.

 

Click for full sized photo

Malcolm Arnold Rumpole of the Bailey King Henry VIII

 

 

 

MONEY!

We run as tight a financial ship as we can, and our artists, too, are very understanding. We try to keep ticket prices down, and are managing to do so. Membership is still an amazing bargain – please encourage your musical friends to support us, even if you/they can’t get to every concert. And if any of you have ideas as to possible local sponsorship, do let us know. General opinion seems to be that we’re doing a great job for music in our community, by bringing top artists here, and we can only do this because they are sometimes amazingly generous in reducing their fees (in a few cases to 1/8 th of their normal fee!). And we attract audiences from far afield as well as Sittingbourne, so we’re doing our bit to keep the town going.

 

FAREWELL TO TWO GREAT MUSICIANS Sadly, we have had to say farewell recently to two great friends, both superb musicians. Earlier this year, the Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott died at the age of 79 – I am glad that in one of our earlier seasons we were able to programme a delightful recorder piece Lizard by him. Hoddinott was a friend and valued colleague from the early 1960s, and a most distinguished and powerful composer. Fortunately there are many CDs currently available of his work. And as we were about to go to press, we had news of the death of Vernon Handley (known as Tod to all his friends). Tod Handley was also a friend for many years, and his classic CD sets of the Vaughan Williams and Bax symphonies will remain monuments in recording history. But he was a much more wide-ranging conductor, whose Beethoven and Brahms symphony performances were comparable with any other great artist, and he was also a remarkable accompanist, not least in Mozart concertos (as I have good reason to know). Both these men will be sadly missed – they were irreplaceable. JMcC

 

PRAISE TO OUR MUSICAL OLYMPIANS The Proms this year rightly gave plenty of time to the music of Vaughan Williams, marking the 50 th anniversary of his death, and numerous orchestras have celebrated him by major events. Still to come in London are his 8 th Symphony (London Philharmonic, 24 th September) and several concerts by the Philharmonia Orchestra, one including the 5 th, 6 th and 9 th symphonies (November 2 nd at 3 pm) and one including the great cantata Dona nobis pacem and the 3 rd and 4 th symphonies. It is rare for even the greatest British composers to receive this kind of tribute, and the concerts would be well worth a special effort to attend. The SMS’s policy of trying to include a British work in our concerts whenever possible seems to have been well received by audiences, and we’ve been successful on all except one occasion. But it would still be good if our musical Olympians were given as much credit (and financial support) as our sports Olympians – to whom all praise and credit. I’ve never forgotten, at Walton’s Memorial Service at Westminster Abbey, an English person outside asking me who he was – and this for someone who was also famous for outstandingly successful film scores, march tunes and carols! MMcC

 

NEWSLETTERS I always hope you find these Newsletters informative and interesting. However, they do take an awful lot of time preparing (not to mention printing!), and it is not going to be possible for me to continue doing this for much longer, in view of the large number of musical commitments I’m going to have over the next 18 months or so. It probably takes about a week’s work (spread over a long period of time, of course) to research biographies/photos/other information and write the Newsletter, and then (inevitably) cut the text so it fits the pages. (I always write too much and then have to cut it.) So after a Members’ Newsletter at the beginning of 2009 and a Public one for the summer, I will have to draw a line under this activity, and the Newsletter will simply have to be a single A4 side of basic information for the whole season. Unless someone reads this and would like to tackle this job (and probably do it more quickly)… JMcC

 

Meanwhile, a brief reminder of the second half of the season, all in 2009:

1. Our first Musical/Social event, an At Home featuring local young artists in a mixture of songs and instrumental music – we are not able yet to confirm the details because their educational timetables have not yet been provided. We do know, however, that Pauline Panton has very kindly agreed to come and give us some of her famous readings. This concert is less expensive for non-members than usual (£5), and includes a glass of wine or a soft drink. We hope you’ll all rally round and support this new venture, which is in response to various requests from members. Friday 13 th February at Sittingbourne Community College.

2. Our first Russian artists, the Atrium Quartet of St Petersburg give us a wonderful programme of Mozart, Walton and Tchaikovsky – by coincidence, we’ve recently had a message from the Chairman of another Music Club to the North of London describing them as “marvellous”. Friday 13 th March at SCC.

3. A return visit, solo this time, by the very popular guitarist Craig Ogden, whose diverse career includes great classical guitar repertoire, lighter fare, cross-over and jazz performances, and many internationally acclaimed recordings. Friday 5 th June at SCC.

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Saturday 27 th September at 7.30 pm in the Alexander Centre, Faversham: Oare String Orchestra conducted by Peter Aviss, with Chris Spencer (clarinet): Boyce, Finzi (Clarinet Concerto), Mozart Divertimento in F, Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings.

 

Whitstable Music Society dates: Whitstable Methodist Church , Argyle Road, Whitstable, 7.30 pm:

Saturday 27 th September 2008: Brodsky String Quartet: Purcell, Turina, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven

Saturday 25 th October: The Thirteen Wind Ensemble: Mozart Serenades K. 388 and 361), Beethoven

Saturday 29 th November: Marina Nadiradze (piano): Scarlatti, Beethoven (Moonlight), Debussy, Chopin

 

Faversham Music Club dates : in Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Abbey Place, Faversham, 8 pm:

Thursday 16 th October 2008: Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) and Adam Walker (flute)

Thursday 13 th November 2008: Xuefei Yang (guitar)

 

Maidstone Symphony Orchestra, conductor Brian Wright: Maidstone Leisure Centre, Mote Park,

7.30 pm:

Saturday 18 th October: Dukas, Schumann Piano Concerto (Llyr Williams, soloist), Vaughan Williams (Job)

Saturday 6 th December: Sibelius, R. Strauss Horn Concerto No 2 (Michael Thompson), Tchaikovsky 5th

Summer 2008

FOUR OF OUR STAR ENSEMBLES

Zephyr Eimer Piano Trio Galliard Wind Ensemble Prinse String Quartet

 

LOOKING BACK

Pictured above are four of the ensembles who have graced our programmes during our first four years. The first three above have all started our seasons, and the Prinse Quartet were our first overseas guests. A full listing of our visiting artists looks like this:

 


SEASON 2004/5

Zephyr Winds with Ian Buckle

Julian Lloyd Webber with Rebecca Woolcock

Emily & Catherine Beynon with Malin Broman

John McCabe

Prinse String Quartet

 

 

 

SEASON 2005/6

Eimer Piano Trio

Claire-Louise Lucas, Tony Eldridge, Jonathan

Darnborough

Malcolm Binns

John Turner & Craig Ogden

Quatuor Parisi

Charles Brown

 

SEASON 2006/7

Galliard Wind Ensemble

Joseph Tong & Waka Hasagewa

Alice Neary & Gretel Dowdeswell

The King’s Singers

David Campbell & Sacconi String Quartet

Maraca2

 

SEASON 2007/8

Zephyr with Ian Buckle

The City Waites

Cory Brass Band

Trevor Pinnock

Carducci String Quartet

John Lill

 

We think this is a pretty stunning roster of artists. The repertoire covered has also been exciting, ranging from early music (the City Waites, Trevor Pinnock’s recital including Draghi, Purcell and Froberger) to new works (two Matthew Rogers premières, one McCabe) and including representation of almost all the great composers with major works – we are very conscious of some of the missing, or under-represented, names! A complete repertoire list is in preparation.

 

NEXT SEASON

 

Craig Ogden Atrium Quartet of St Petersburg Mark Bebbington

 

LOOKING FORWARD

Our next season, 2008/09, has one fewer event than the last few, four concerts plus an “At Home”. This is entirely because of the pressures of time on the Committee involved in organising the concerts – we simply cannot do any more! The subscription has been adjusted accordingly – this is probably a good moment to point out that we have managed to keep ticket prices level, despite the recession. And we have some outstanding concerts in prospect.

 

Readers of International Record Review will have seen their June issue, with a front cover picture of the brilliant young pianist Mark Bebbington. He gives our first concert, on 10 th October, and his programme is a true survey of some great virtuoso repertoire. Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata is one of the highlights of the repertoire, and César Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue is another – they make a wonderful first half to a programme which also includes Debussy Preludes and three operatic paraphrases. This kind of work was a standby in the 19 th century, Liszt being pre-eminent in turning themes from well-known (and sometimes not so familiar) operas into scintillating and often moving piano showpieces – his reinterpretation for the keyboard of the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and his Paraphrase on themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto have become wonderful calling-cards for pianists. More recently, John Joubert, whose delightful Duettino was written specially for our John Turner/Craig Ogden concert in February 2006, used themes from his own opera Jane Eyre to create a similar kind of piece, in his case a warm and romantic Fantasy. Mark Bebbington has recorded it on a Somm CD of music by Joubert – one of many highly successful recordings he has released in recent times.

 

Last year we had a wonderful concert from the Cory Brass Band, from South Wales. This time we have a different brass kettle, the superb Brass Quintet of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (we never thought we’d be able to bring the LPO to Sittingbourne!), in a programme which highlights the brilliance and musicianship of some of this great orchestra’s superb brass section. Among the composers are King Henry VIII, in an arrangement by Elgar Howarth of some his splendid tunes (he was a genuine composer), Malcolm Arnold, represented by his typically entertaining Brass Quintet No 1, and Joseph Horovitz, a composer of vast experience probably known to most people by his signature tunes for TV series such as Rumpole. His Music-Hall Suite is a skilful, delightful pastiche of Victorian tunes, but still unmistably Horovitzian. We are hoping some educational work will also take place in the afternoon. The concert is on 14 th November.

 

No Music Society season is complete without chamber music for string ensemble, and we’ve been fortunate to engage the Atrium String Quartet of St. Petersburg, who bring with them our first major work by Tchaikovsky (his deeply expressive and moving 3 rd Quartet in E flat minor) as well as one of Mozart’s finest, his last Quartet in F, K590, and Walton’s A minor Quartet from 1947, ranging from true romanticism to jazzy, punchy rhythmic writing. This is a stunning programme, from an ensemble who have established themselves quickly as one of the world’s leading groups, from their start in St Petersburg in 2000, through winning the first prize in the London International String Quartet Competition in 2003 (when they also won the Audience Prize), to their current international, and very busy, schedule of concerts and recordings. This event, on 13 th March 2009, will be keenly anticipated.

 

Finally, Craig Ogden, the celebrated guitarist who shared the programme with John Turner mentioned earlier, returns to us to perform a varied and attractive programme including some popular shorter pieces (including some of those Spanish solos so beautifully written for guitar) as well as works like Britten’s Nocturnal on a theme by John Dowland (a kind of journey back in time from Britten’s own style towards the Dowland original, reversing the usual variation form) and music by Dowland himself. Craig is an outstandingly popular and established soloist both in the classical world and the genres of jazz and crossover music, and this concert on 5 th June 2009 will be a lovely summer evening recital – let’s hope the weather suits the music!

 

In the middle of the season, we have our “At Home”. It has long been a wish of our Chairman, as well as the rest of the Committee, that we should encourage younger musicians from the area, and we have been able to do so in a small way from time to time. Some members have also expressed the wish to have a Social evening of some kind, so we have combined these elements into the event on 13 th February 2009, when we will have music provided by some local young artists, including what will be an all-too short but delightful celebration of the Haydn anniversary, as well as some of Pauline Panton’s famous readings and some refreshments. It will be an opportunity for us to meet one another in a less formal setting than a straightforward concert, and we hope to have more time to chat with one another. Do support us – if successful, we would hope to repeat this venture in future seasons.

 

MEMBERSHIP Our Membership increased slightly last season, to 56. We are also averaging about 50 sales per concert from non-members, which is a promising situation but not one that enables us to plan for very far ahead. This average does not take account of those “blockbuster” concerts where we have, because of the stature of the artists, been able to attract audiences of up to 400 and more (Julian Lloyd Webber, the King’s Singers, and others). Members, of course, have the knowledge that they are guaranteed a seat – they have priority. In this area we cannot expect to attract a membership of the size of some Societies which have been established for a long time, and which exist in areas of considerable cultural activity, but the contrast with, say, Malvern Concert Club, established over 100 years ago by Sir Edward Elgar and who now have a membership of 800, suggests that we could do better. We will find it difficult to wait 100 years to enjoy the benefits of anything like such a thriving membership!

However, I must take the opportunity of thanking all those who already help us so much in various ways during the year. The Chairman has already paid tribute to Sittingbourne Community College for their ever-helpful support, as well as those who help with the concert box office including Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Tickets are available there one month before each concert, and of course by post beforehand (please note: no personal cheques – see brochure) and at the concerts themselves. From a funding point of view, we have been fortunate in obtaining financial assistance from the Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, and, in support of Maraca2’s highly successful schools performances, from the Esmée Fairbairn Charitable Trust.

Spring 2008

The SMS had a particularly successful concert on 24 th November last when the Cory Band with their conductor Robert Childs visited us at Fulston Manor School. Though unfortunately the local press weren’t able to include a post-concert review, Garrie Harvey, Head of Music and AST at Sittingbourne Community College, wrote a glowing notice which was printed in British Bandsman, 8 th December, and I quote it below, since it says everything that’s been said by members of the audience, who responded with great enthusiasm to a very enjoyable programme:

 

“For a music society that normally presents soloists and small ensembles, it was quite a coup to engage an  internationally-acclaimed brass band.

“Judging by the packed house representing the whole of  Kent and beyond, I believe we owe the society’s artistic director, John McCabe, a debt of thanks for inviting Dr Robert Childs and the remarkable Cory Band to perform a showcase of major brass band repertoire that included Elgar’s Severn Suite, Ireland’s A Downland Suite, Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, and Cloudcatcher Fells by John McCabe himself.
“As I listened to the first crescendo, the hairs on the back of my neck started to stand up and I knew I was in for an evening of outstanding musicianship. As the evening progressed, I  was certainly not disappointed.

“Many moons ago, Robert Childs was my euphonium teacher at Leeds College of Music. Apart from a few more grey hairs, his sense of humour and almost encyclopaedic knowledge haven’t changed one bit.  He relished informing us about the works of Holst, Ireland and Elgar that were originally written for brass band, and subsequently transcribed for orchestra.  Quite a twist on the prevailing impressions of brass band music!

“Listening to the band was a revelation; I was impressed immediately by the professionalism of the players as they adjusted, almost imperceptibly, to the acoustic in the hall. The staggered breathing, particularly in the bass end, gave superbly sustained, organ like qualities and there was a blending and warmth of sound throughout the sections as well as across the band. I particularly enjoyed the solo horn player, Owen Farr’s tone and interpretation, whilst soprano, Michelle Ibbotson, gave a lovely solo in The Queen of the Night’s Aria from Mozart’s The Magic Flute – a nice reference to early repertoire.  The principal trombonist, Christopher Thomas, also gave an atmospheric and humorous performance of Mosquito by Torstein Aagard-Nielsen.

“The theme of the night was landscapes, and John McCabe gave a moving account of the inspiration for his work, Cloudcatcher Fells.  I could talk about the outstanding quality of the performances and the jaw-dropping encore performance of Mr Lear’s Carnival, but, in the end, the greatest credit is that I stopped taking notes, sat back and just enjoyed the music.  I trust that we will accept Robert Childs’ request to be invited back again sometime soon.”

 

Text Box:    SPITFIRES AWAY! At the end of our concerts we usually present our artists with a small gift,      usually a bottle of some kind (more practicable than flowers). With the 30-plus members of      Cory Band, however, we were a bit stumped as to what we do. We’re very grateful to the famous      Faversham brewery Shepherd Neame,  who in a kind act of sponsorship presented us with a      couple of bottles for each band member of their well-loved Spitfire beer, which I’m sure helped      the band’s lengthy return journey to South Wales go with a swing. It was particularly appropriate,      since the concert began with Walton’s splendid Spitfire Prelude and Fugue, and our Artistic      Director is not immune to the charms of Spitfire beer anyway!

 

 

 

OUR 22 nd FEBRUARY CONCERT: TREVOR PINNOCK (harpsichord)

 

Trevor Pinnock is known worldwide as a harpsichordist, conductor and chamber musician. A pioneer in the performance of baroque and classical music on period instruments, he founded the English Concert in 1972 directing it until 2003. During this season, Pinnock will tour as a soloist in England and Italy and will perform with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra in their Twentieth Birthday concerts. He will also continue to tour Bach´s Brandenburg Concertos with the European Brandenburg Ensemble which he formed last year to celebrate his own sixtieth birthday. Their recording of the concertos was released on the Avie label in November 2007. In January 2008 he joins flautist Emmanuel Pahud and cellist Jonathan Manson to record Bach sonatas for EMI. The ensemble will subsequently tour Europe, the Far East and the USA.

Trevor Pinnock J. S. Bach Antonio VivaldiHenry Purcell

(“The Red Priest”)

 

Mr Pinnock’s many recordings as a conductor include much Haydn, including the Sturm und Drang symphonies, and many classic recordings of Handel operas and choral works. He continues his relationship with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Abbado´s remarkable young Orchestra Mozart Bologna. He will work again with pianist Maria João Pires in concerts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and RAI Orchestra Torino. In educational initiatives, Pinnock will continue to give concerts and masterclasses with students at the Royal Academy of Music, London and the Hong Kong Academy For Performing Arts. Trevor Pinnock was awarded the title of CBE in the Queen´s birthday honours in 1992.

 

His recital programme for us on 22 nd February at Sittingbourne Community College contains music by various Baroque composers from different countries, from the English master Purcell and the German Froberger to the Italian Domenico Scarlatti (some of his Sonatas written during his long domicile in Spain) and the German Johann Sebastian Bach, his glorious C minor Partita. Italian and German combine in Bach’s reworking of Vivaldi’s Concerto in D, and the programme is completed by music by Giovanni Batista Draghi, who though Italian was organist to King Charles II’s Queen Catherine at St Michael’s, Cornhill. This is a rare opportunity to hear a master harpsichordist in the repertoire for which he is especially famous, much sought-after all over the world, and the programme is both varied and exciting.

Text Box:  PARTITAS AND SUITES The title Partita has become interchangeable with the title Suite, thanks largely to J. S. Bach’s use of either title for his great series of Suites (or Partitas) for keyboard, solo violin and solo cello. They were usually collections of dance-movements such as Sarabande, Gigue, Minuet etc., often with a more substantial first movement, sometimes in the form of a toccata prefaced by a slow introduction, giving the work something of the weightiness of the later form of Sonata. After the Baroque era, the tradition was revived by late romantics like Max Reger, in several fine Suites for solo viola, and 20th century composers such as Ernest Bloch, in Suites for solo violin, and Britten, whose three solo cello Suites live up to the example set by Bach. Many other composers have also revived the title Partita.

The Carducci StringQuartet Haydn, deep in thought An affectionate cartoon of RVW

 

 

THE CARDUCCI STRING QUARTET This outstanding young string quartet has just won the 2007 Concert Artists Guild International Competition in the USA. Chosen from over 350 original applicants, they receive prizes including a debut concert at the Carnegie Hall and a comprehensive management and marketing programme with CAG, including recording and commissioning opportunities. They come to us fresh from their first tour of Japan, and will tour the USA for the first time next autumn. Their busy schedule takes them all over Britain and they have rapidly established themselves as one of the brightest young ensembles in music, not only in this country. Their January diary alone, with no less than 13 engagements, shows how popular they have become, and among recent highlights have been a three day festival to celebrate the opening of the amazing new Cork School of Music building in Ireland. Their first CDs are in the process of being released. Their programme for us reflects perhaps the two greatest masters of quartet composing (certainly two of the three greatest!), Haydn and Beethoven, both by works regarded as among their finest: Haydn’s Quartet in D minor, No 2 of the set Opus 76, nicknamed the Fifths, and the popular E minor Quartet, the second of Beethoven’s three quartets, Op 59, dedicated to Count Razumovsky. Between these, they pay tribute to the 50 th anniversary of the death of Vaughan Williams with his beautiful, atmospheric 2 nd String Quartet, written in 1942-4 and partly derived from his music for the film The 49 th Parallel. Two of the Quartet, violinist Matthew Denton and his wife, cellist Emma Denton, will be remembered as members of the Eimer Piano Trio, who so successfully visited the SMS in 2005.

 

Text Box:   WASTE NOT, WANT NOT From the beginning of the days of specially-written film scores (even      in the silent era), film companies have from time to time used some of the most noted contemporary      composers to help them put their movies across – Saint-Säens and (reputedly) Holst were among the      early pioneers. In later times, the composers often drew on their film scores for concert works,      either making Suites (like Bliss, with Things to Come), major symphonic and choral works      (such as Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky), or simply short concert pieces, like Copland’s Our Town.      Vaughan Williams was already in his 70s when he ventured into film composition, but he      immediately became a master at it, as witness his classic score for Scott of the Antarctic, from      which he derived his brilliantly imaginative Sinfonia Antartica (the mis-spelling was his own, and      he stuck to it!). In his 2nd String Quartet, played in our Carducci Quartet concert, he used material       from The 49th Parallel, for which he wrote a memorably melodic and atmospheric score, and also      some noted down for a projected film about Joan of Arc that never materialised. Composers like      Handel and Bach made sure they never wasted their ideas – Vaughan Williams was acting in keeping      with the great tradition!

 

 

 

John Lill The young Prokofiev The Prokofiev family, 1936 Beethoven!

 

JOHN LILL Following his famous win in the Moscow Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in 1970, John Lill has established himself internationally as one of the most celebrated of all British pianists. He has particularly become noted as an interpreter of Beethoven and Prokofiev – apart from recording all the sonatas and concertos of Beethoven he has given complete cycles of these in many countries, including several concerto cycles in the USA, and has appeared with all the leading orchestras of the world. His complete Prokofiev Sonata recordings have also received wide acclaim, as has his recording of Rachmaninov’s major works and numerous other discs ranging from a recent, highly successful Haydn CD to Brahms concertos and, recently again, Schumann piano works. The seriousness and authority with which he plays is matched by what his friends and even audiences know, a mischievous and delightful sense of humour. His programme for us has still to be confirmed, but will include major works by Beethoven and Prokofiev, which will certainly demonstrate all his great technical command and musical insight.

A PERSONAL NOTE This will be the last Members’ Newsletter from the present source, though there will be a more general, “public” one towards the end of the season. The reason for this is simply pressure of time. Though I love writing it, finding pictures, messing about with formats and so on, I simply do not have the time to continue doing this, especially with what looks like a potentially busy birthday year coming up in 2009. It does take quite a bit of work to produce a Newsletter, and it was a great pity that his health prevented David Williams from continuing to do this, as he had made such a splendid start.

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY We would like to draw your attention to the following:

Saturday 26 th January at 7.30 pm in the Alexander Centre, Faversham: Oare String Orchestra, conductor Peter Aviss, with Penelope Howard (violin and viola) and Robin Morrish (violin): Vaughan Williams (5 Variants on Dives and Lazarus), Vivaldi (Double Violin Concerto), Howells (Elegy for viola and strings), Holst (St Paul’s Suite), Neil Gardner (Mosaic)

Thursday 31 st January in the Assembly Hall, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham (8 pm): Faversham Music Club presents the Fujita Piano Trio in works by Beethoven, Takemitsu and Dvořák

Saturday 23 rd February at Whitstable Methodist Church, Argyle Road, Whitstable (7.30pm): Whitstable Music Society presents the Fujita Piano Trio in works by Shostakovitch (Trio No 1), Smetana (his glorious G minor Trio) and Schubert

Saturday 8 th March in the Millennium Hall, Fulston Manor School, Sittingbourne (8 pm): the popular and distinguished pianist Malcolm Binns gives a recital in aid of the Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society, including Beethoven’s MoonlightSonata, Brahms Intermezzi and music by Schumann and Chopin

Saturday 15 th March at the Mote Hall, Maidstone (7.30pm): Maidstone Symphony Orchestra, conductor Brian Wright, in Ravel (La valse), Debussy (La mer), and two works with cello soloist Sylvia Chiesa: Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Nino Rota’s Cello Concerto No 1

Thursday 3 rd April in the Assembly Hall, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham (8 pm): Faversham Music Club: Music from Handel’s London performed by Concert Royal

Saturday 26 th April in Faversham Parish Church: Oare String Orchestra, conductor Peter Aviss, with David Flood (organ): music by Mozart, Sibelius, Handel (Organ Concerto in D minor), Albinoni (Adagio), and Mendelssohn (the orchestral version of the famous Octet).

Autumn 2007

Zephyr with Ian Buckle (piano)

Friday 28 th September 2007, 7.45 pm
Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

Ian Buckle

Zephyr

Zephyr gave us a wonderful start in 2004 with a typically varied programme, and we’re delighted to be able to welcome them back. Led by clarinettist Chris Swann, who introduces the programme in a delightfully informal (but informative!) way, they will present four superb works from the wind and piano repertoire, beginning with Beethoven’s magnificent Quintet in E flat, Op 16, often overlooked in favour of Mozart’s classic masterpiece but surely ranking alongside it. The programme ends with Gordon Jacob’s brilliant Sextet for piano and winds, very rarely performed these days but a staple repertoire piece for the Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble in the 1950s and 60s (when our Artistic Director heard it and longed to be able to programme it some time). Zephyr and Ian Buckle have all taken to this piece and are eagerly looking forward to playing it. The programme is completed by two shorter, very contrasted works, John Ireland’s richly romantic Fantasy-Sonata for clarinet and piano, in which he evokes a sense of past legends, and Poulenc’s typically high-spirited outburst of Gallic sentiment and humour, his Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano.

Text Box: Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) was largely self-taught as a composer, and made himself an immensely successful and versatile practitioner. He became a legendary teacher, wrote textbooks on composition that remain standard works of reference, and wrote a huge amount of music in most forms, from symphonic to band, from film to choral work, and including a lot of arranging in the 1940s and 50s for radio comedy programmes such as ITMA.  Text Box: John Ireland (1879-1962) wrote much orchestral, chamber and instrumental music, and some of the most beautiful English songs – Sea Fever is one such classic. He was especially interested in legends and myths, and expressed this not only in programmatic works (like the orchestral The Forgotten Rite and Mai-Dun) but even in apparently abstract works like his clarinet and piano Fantasy-Sonata. Born in Bowdon, Cheshire, he lived for a while in Deal, and then Sussex.




 
Gordon Jacob Elgar Poulenc cartoon Ireland

 

The City Waites

Friday 26 th October 2007, 7.45 pm
Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

This concert is being given in association with the Canterbury Festival Fringe

 

‘How the World Wags’

With all the exuberance of an early travelling band, The City Waites sing, play and jest their way through songs like The Downright Merry Wooing of John and Joan, The Maid’s Complaint and The Perils of Tobacco. These were the pop songs of 17 th Century London, churned out in their thousands by the ballad-hacks around St Paul’s and heard everywhere from street corner to the royal court. From a sentimental Restoration love song to the tuneful cries of street traders or the funky foot-stomping jollity of a village green knees-up, this deliciously eclectic and frequently bawdy repertoire was imitated, admired and collected by the likes of Purcell, Charles II and Samuel Pepys and constitutes one of the richest musical veins in all of Western tradition.

 

The City Waites ’ busy schedule has taken them all over the world. UK performances include the Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John’s Smith Square, and frequent collaborations with Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Shakespeare Company, and the Royal National Theatre, where they had the honour of performing for Her Majesty the Queen. Lucie Skeaping is also well-known as the presenter of BBC Radio 3’s Early Music Show.

Landscapes in Music Composers have long been fascinated by the challenge of expressing their reaction to landscape and the environment in music. From the medieval round Sumer is i-cumen in to the present day, music has always related strongly to the natural world. One thinks of the Pastoral symphonies of many composers, Richard Strauss’s flock of sheep (Don Quixote) and his Alpine Symphony, Haydn’s The Seasons (and Vivaldi!), and countless others. Our Brass Band concert on Saturday 24 th November, gives a programme of band classics that, by coincidence, reflect this passion. Elgar’s Severn Suite and Ireland’s Downland Suite vividly do so, Walton’s Spitfire Prelude and Fugue (from the film The First of the Few) could be said to relate to the wartime skies above Kent, and John McCabe’s Cloudcatcher Fells, often chosen by bands themselves as a contest test piece, stems from his lifelong love of the Lake District.

 

Text Box:    Cory Brass Band, conducted by Dr Robert Childs   Saturday 24th November 2007 in the Millennium Hall,      Fulston Manor School, Brenchley Road, Sittingbourne ME10 4NG

Unusually, we’re having a concert on a Saturday – please note the change from our usual day. This is because Cory, one of the world’s greatest ever brass bands, are coming from South Wales, and can only do so at a weekend. This bids fair to become a particularly spectacular concert, full of the virtuosity and brilliance this wonderful ensemble possesses. The programme has been chosen to reflect the richness and variety of the brass band repertoire produced by 20 th century composers – many works have been written by specialist band composers, but when people like Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, Howells, Ireland and many other “concert” composers wrote major works for the medium, it seemed a good opportunity to present a cross-section of this particular repertoire. Cory were delighted to agree to the programme idea, and as resident band at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, they are particularly keen to promote the repertoire in all its variety. We’re sure this will be a highlight of the SMS history.

The City Waites with Lucie Skeaping

Cory Brass Band with Robert Childs, at the RNCM

 

Text Box: Choral Evensong for St Cecilia  There have for some time been ideas floating around here on the Island that a service in celebration of the arts would be a good thing; and there has, I believe, been discussion on the committee as to the possibility of a SMS church service. If you will, these ideas can come together! There is planned for Sunday, 18th November, 3.00pm, at Holy Trinity Church, Queenborough, Choral Evensong: in honour of St Cecilia, patron saint of music, whose feast day is 22nd November, and in celebration of music and the arts. The service is a parish event, organised by the parish priest, the Reverend John Streeting, but a special invitation is extended to SMS members and all arts and music lovers.    Evensong will be sung by the choir of St. Michael’s, Sittingbourne, directed by Ian Payne; as many of you will be aware, St. Michael’s have a long tradition of choral music, and we are delighted that the choir are willing to be our guest singers. Full details of the service are yet to be finalised, but I can say that one of the lesson readers will be our Artistic Director, and that there will be an anthem specially composed for the occasion by John Streeting. Following the service there will be Kentish Cream Tea in the Church Hall, and, we hope, an opportunity for some publicity and recruiting for SMS.    Do make a note of the date, and, better still, do come!  								Margaret Mascall  		       SMS member; Honorary Assistant Priest at Queenborough

MONEY! There just isn’t enough of the stuff, ever – is there! So many good causes chasing money, and even as I write Northern Rock investors panicking about the safety of their funds. One thing that has disappointed me in running this Music Society is the lack of interest taken in it by local businesses. Since receiving our KCC start-up fund, thanks to our Chairman Peter Morgan, Swale Borough Council have been continually helpful. Through Peter we’ve also received a donation from Swale Housing Association’s Community Chest, to help us with publicity. Currently we’ve put some of this to good use, with ads for the current season in the East Kent Gazette, and the Sittingbourne Extra (Kent Messenger).

Composer Trusts have also been helpful, and while not wanting to exhaust your patience with long lists, the John Ireland Trust is helping to support two concerts this year (Zephyr, on 28 th September) and Cory Band (24 th November). Among local sponsors, we’ve been very grateful to those in the past (including an anonymous donor), and grateful once again that The Swale Charity has assisted with a small, but welcome donation. M-Real is generous in kind, in photocopying our programmes, and the Wyvern Press kindly realistic in pricing our brochure printing. Otherwise, local business response so far (when approached) has been disappointing, not least a firm I’d rather hoped might help in cash or kind with the brass band concert – naming no names, but brass playing is thirsty work!

Away from the Swale area, we are grateful for a donation very kindly provided once again by The Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, and another from the Beryl and Joe Stone Charitable Trust. However, we cannot count on regular support from these resources, as some of them are in the process of closing down.

We run as tight a financial ships as we can, and our artists, too, are very understanding. We try to keep ticket prices down (though have felt the need to raise them for non-members this year). Membership is still an amazing bargain – please encourage your musical friends to support us, even if you/they can’t get to every concert. And if any of you have ideas as to possible local sponsorship, do let us know. MMcC

VIRTUALLY THERE 2007 has been a frantic year for the McCabes, and although John doesn’t like to blow his own trumpet, I think it’s fair enough for me to point out some of his recent activities. His Symphony No. 6, Symphony on a Pavane, was premièred by the London Philharmonic in London in January. His Horn Concerto (Rainforest IV), written for David Pyatt and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, received its premières in Cardiff and Swansea in February and was broadcast by the BBC. Currently completing a Cello Concerto for Truls Mørk and the Hallé, for January 2008, John has just been involved in an amazing concert with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in Liverpool – amazing because it was the first-ever concert to be disseminated across the world in virtual reality. No, I don’t understand it either. This opening concert of the RLPO’s 2007/08 season, marking the city’s 800 th anniversary and the opening season of the Capital of Culture Year, included the première of Labyrinth, John’s 7 th Symphony, a BBC commission also broadcast on 17 th September, four days after the première. It was a fabulous occasion, with a packed hall come to hear Labyrinth, a short new work by the young Liverpool composer Kenneth Hesketh, Ravel (sung by new soprano sensation Kate Royal), and Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, a stunning performance received with shouts of acclaim – all under the baton of the RLPO’s inspiring new maestro, the 30-year-old Russian, Vasily Petrenko. After the concert which the virtual reality audience was able to watch in the concert hall, “avatars” of Hesketh and Petrenko interacted with participants across the world in interview, while you could apparently purchase virtual drinks with virtual money from the virtual bar. How you virtually drank them is another question. The Press found it all fascinating, and the New York Times even sent a photographer.

Finally, Birmingham Royal Ballet are bringing back the stunning Bintley/McCabe ballet Edward II with performances in Birmingham, London, Plymouth and Sunderland, in September and October. It’s not for the squeamish, but for those interested in going, the Sadler’s Wells performances in London are on 11 th, 12 th and 13 th October. With costumes by Jasper Conran, sets by Peter Davison, and lighting by Peter Mumford, it is truly spectacular. MMcC

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY We would like to draw your attention to the following:

Saturday 29 th September, in the Alexander Centre, Faversham, at 7.30 pm : The Oare String Orchestra, conductor Peter Aviss, present Horn Concertos by Telemann and Neil Bramson (soloist: Tony Halstead), Alwyn’s 2 nd Concerto Grosso, plus Elgar.

Saturday 13 th October, in the Mote Hall, Maidstone: The Maidstone Symphony Orchestra, with their conductor Brian Wright, perform Sibelius’s Violin Concerto (soloist: Jennifer Pike) and Elgar’s great 2 nd Symphony in E flat.

Thursday 25 th October in the Assembly Hall, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham at 8 pm: The opening concert of Faversham Music Club presents a recital by the Crowther Wind Quintet. SMS members receive a discount on ticket prices.

Summer 2007

MEMBERSHIP SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP FOR THE 2007/08 SEASON:
The following membership fees have been agreed for the 2007/08 season:
Individual Season Ticket £50 (this is a massive saving compared to individual tickets through the season) Corporate Season Ticket £200, Family Season Ticket £100 The Newsletter-only for £5 scheme is discontinued because of lack of editing time.

A Brochure and Membership Form are enclosed. Do renew your membership as soon as possible – and it would be wonderful if most members could entice somebody else to join us.

Our Membership Secretary is Jeane Holmes, 106 College Road, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 1LQ. Tel: 01795 423 589.

 

John Lill The Carducci String Quartet The City Waites

LOOKING FORWARD We have what we think are six particularly exciting concerts for 2007/08:

Please note: the new Membership and Ticket prices mean that those who take out a membership Season Ticket save no less than £22, i.e. one free concert and most of the price of a second. This is a really special bargain, and we hope people will take advantage of it.

      • The artists range from Zephyr with pianist Ian Buckle, who gave us such a great start at our first concert in 2004; The City Waites, with a delightful programme of early music from court, theatre, tavern and countryside, the famous Cory Brass Band, a household name for their virtuosity and musicianship; the internationally celebrated harpsichordist and conductor Trevor Pinnock; another of the brilliant young British string quartets the Carducci String Quartet (playing outstanding works by Haydn, Vaughan Williams, and Beethoven); and finally a recital by the great pianist John Lill.
      • The repertoire ranges from 17 th and early 18 th century music (The City Waites), through established masterpieces by Haydn, Beethoven, Bach and Vaughan Williams, to a programme of brass band classics by composers such as Elgar, Walton and John Ireland. The concerts once again give a wonderful overview of the great classic repertoire.
      • Two concerts fall outside our normal type of arrangements. The visit of the Cory Band is on a Saturday (24 th November), because they are only able to give us that date – coming from South Wales, they cannot easily get away for a concert this far away during the week. But it will be a treat for all brass band followers, and those who don’t normally go for this kind of concert will appreciate a programme with some of the best-loved major works for band from the repertoire. John Lill’s recital is later in the season than usual, because it is also forms the opening concert of the Swale Festival, a collaboration with a local event to which we are eagerly looking forward, and which marks our concern to find ways of linking in with the community of which we are part. This recital will be at the Wyvern Hall, Central Avenue, Sittingbourne, a new venue for us and one that we hope will be successful.

MEMBERSHIP SUBSIDY The comment is sometimes made that people don’t take out a subscription because they can’t come to every concert. Of course, with our 6-for-5 membership, we have been giving members one free concert anyway, quite apart from the Newsletter and any Members-only events we may put on during the year. Next year, however, we are offering a bigger discount for membership – this will still cost only £50 (we have kept this level for four years), but individual concert tickets will be priced at £12, so joining us produces a saving of £22 over the whole season. This works out at about 44 % saving for members. For performances of the quality we present this is an outstanding bargain. (Indeed, it’s already a bargain at £12 a seat anyway!) You also have the knowledge that you are guaranteed a seat – members have priority. And membership means ensuring the future of the Society by supporting its activities even if you can only get along to, say, 4 out of 6 concerts. So please do think about it. It will help us more than you realise.

Trevor Pinnock Zephyr Robert Childs (Cory Band)

LOOKING BACK Among many memorable events in our last season, the concert by The King’s Singers was certainly a highlight, but we have been able to maintain the highest standards of performance, as well as continuing to present a wide range of repertoire. Our average audience, even discounting the very large numbers who attended The King’s Singers, was well up on last season. Much of this is due to those who buy tickets on the night (and we should express our gratitude to Swade Music for acting as our ticket agency in town), and we still desperately need more full memberships.

The Galliard Wind Ensemble gave us a splendid start, with a programme of attractive wind quintet works ending with Berio’s Opus Number Zoo, presented with all their usual panache. Nielsen’s Wind Quintet in A was the established classic of the programme, and the programme ranged from a delightful arrangement of Mozart’s Overture The Marriage of Figaro to tuneful, often folk-based works by Ligeti, Barber and Grainger, as well as Malcolm Arnold’s popular Sea Shanties.

An equally delightful programme was given by the superb young piano duet team of Joseph Tong and Waka Hasagewa, with established masterworks by Mozart and Schubert, the original version of Debussy’s La mer (how often will we be able to hear that great work in Sittingbourne?), and the première of the specially commissioned work swings and roundabouts by Matthew Rogers, which was very well received. More duos were heard in the outstanding cello and piano recital by Alice Neary and Gretel Dowdeswell, in a powerful performance of Brahms’s great F major Cello Sonata, plus solo items, from Beethoven’s Waldstein Piano Sonata and Bach’s 2 nd Suite in D minor for solo cello to Walton’s Passacaglia for solo cello.

The King’s Singers gave us pieces by Thomas Tallis, followed by items from their most recent CD Landscape and Time and the première of John McCabe’s Cartography, written for the concert. In the second half, they followed some delightful early music by Spanish composers with a typical group of close harmony arrangements – a programme selected with all their usual care and attention to detail. We were delighted to welcome guests from far and wide for this concert, including our own Mayor of Sittingbourne and our local Member of Parliament, the Rt. Hon. Derek Wyatt.

The two remaining concerts were a massive contrast. The Sacconi String Quartet, led by Ben Hancox, began with a wonderful String Quartet by Haydn, and they were then joined by the outstanding clarinettist David Campbell for memorable performances of the well-loved Clarinet Quintets by Mozart and Weber. David also gave us a bonne bouche in three effective pieces for solo clarinet by David Matthews. Finally, we hosted a concert, prefaced by highly successful school projects, given by Maraca2, a brilliant young percussion duo from Birmingham – an exciting evening of rhythmical and surprisingly wide-ranging music, played with such athleticism it was almost exhausting to watch!

VOLUNTEERS We are still in real need of Volunteers. At present, the Society is very much a cottage industry and probably always will be, but the burden borne by the Committee is a very heavy one. There are all sorts of things you can help us with – so please come forward and help.

 

Poulenc Elgar Young Beethoven and Older Haydn RVW

 

 

However, I must one more time take the opportunity of thanking all those who already help us so much in various ways during the year. We owe much to Geoff Rutt, Garrie Harvey and the staff at Sittingbourne Community College for their ever-helpful support, as well as those who help with the concert box office including Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Tickets are available there one month before each concert, and of course by post beforehand (please note: no personal cheques – see brochure) and at the concerts themselves. From a funding point of view, we have been fortunate in obtaining financial assistance from the Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, and in support of Maraca2’s highly successful schools performances from the Esmée Fairbairn Charitable Trust.

LUCAS/DARNBOROUGH CD Many people will remember the performance by Claire-Louise Lucas (mezzo-soprano) and Jonathan Darnborough (piano) at our The Year of the Sea event in 2005. Their first CD, now released, includes Elgar’s Sea Pictures as well as other songs by Elgar and some lovely ones by Vaughan Williams – the Claudio Bohemia disc (CB5258-2) can be purchased at £10 (including postage and packing) from Midsummer Management, tel. 01684 565 651, Email: artists@midman503a.freeserve.co.uk.

OTHER RECENT CDs Malcolm Binns’ famous recording of the two piano concertos by Rawsthorne has been reissued on Lyrita (SRCD 255), with Nicholas Braithwaite and the London Symphony Orchestra. John McCabe’s recent CD releases include two John Joubert issues (Songs and Chamber Music on Toccata Classics TOCC 0045, and a 2-CD set of the 3 Piano Sonatas plus Chamber Music on Somm SOMMCD 060-2) and a reissue of the Moeran Rhapsody in F sharp for piano and orchestra, with Nicholas Braithwaite and the New Philharmonia Orchestra (Lyrita SRCD 248). John’s ‘Pilgrim’ for Double String Orchestra , Ballet Suite No1 ‘Arthur Pendragon’ and Piano Concerto No 1 (with John as soloist), with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under Christopher Austin, has been issued on Dutton Epoch CDLX 7179.

OTHER EVENTS Malcolm Binns , who gave us such a splendid recital in January 2006 and who is President of the Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society, is giving a recital at the Wigmore Hall, London, on Sunday 8 th July at 7.30 pm. His programme includes two great Beethoven Sonatas (Op 54 in F, and Op 111 in C minor), three Lyapunov Transcendental Studies (members may remember his superb performances of some of these at his SMS recital), and the world première of McCabe’s Epithalamium (Study No 11 – Homage to Mussorgsky).

The Oare String Orchestra is performing on Saturday, 29 th September, 2007 at 7.30 pm in the Alexander Centre, Faversham, with their conductor Peter Aviss. Tony Halstead is the soloist in Neil Bramson’s Concertino for horn and strings and Telemann’s Horn Concerto in D, and the programme also includes William Alwyn’s superb Concerto Grosso No 2, and music by Harry Wild and Elgar.

Don’t forget the piano recital on Saturday 14 th July 2007 at 7.30 pm in the Shirley Hall, King’s School, Canterbury: the talented young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor plays in aid of the Save the Children Fund.

Spring 2007

David Campbell (clarinet) and the Sacconi String Quartet
Friday 23 rd February, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

David Campbell

The Sacconi String Quartet

Our fifth concert this season presents one of the most popular of all classical works (in the classical top 20, according to one recent poll), Mozart’s lovely Clarinet Quintet, in a performance by one of the greatest clarinettists ever to come from Britain, David Campbell. He will be joined by the brilliant young Sacconi String Quartet, who are garnering praise from all quarters and making a great success of their career. Their leader, Ben Hancox, comes from Canterbury –a few years ago he gave a superb recital at Sittingbourne’s Avenue Theatre.

 

THE COMPOSER AND THE VIRTUOSO
The great tradition of composers writing for particular performers has applied especially to the clarinet repertoire. In his late years Brahms, for instance, was inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld to compose his Clarinet Quintet, Trio, and two Sonatas. In our February concert, this tradition is represented by Weber’s Quintet, written for Heinrich Bärmann (for whom he also wrote a Concertino and two Concertos), and the Mozart Quintet, written, like his equally well-loved Concerto and the Kegelstatt Trio, for Anton Stadler.

The programme also includes the wonderfully virtuoso and lyrical Clarinet Quintet by Weber, as well as a typically imaginative String Quartet by the great master of the genre, Haydn, his B flat major Quartet, Op. 50, No. 1, full of warmth as well as wit. The programme is completed by a short work for solo clarinet by David Matthews, Three Roman Miniatures. David’s output of music is enormous, including symphonies, concertos, many string quartets and other chamber music – he was Artistic Director of the Deal Festival for many years (he still lives part of the time in Deal), and he has written authoritative books on Tippett and Britten, as well as Landscape into Sound, a study of the relationship between landscape and music. Roman Miniatures were inspired by Roman poetry (the Emperor Hadrian and Virgil) and myth (the death of Actaeon as described by Ovid), and are both short and very accessible.

Carl Maria von Weber

Steve Reich

maraca2

Friday 30 th March, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

The brilliant young percussion duo maraca2 hail from Birmingham Conservatoire, where they have recently successfully completed a gruelling postgraduate degree course. They are already fully-fledged professional artists, increasingly in demand for Music Societies and Festivals, and have already had a number of works written specially for them. Their performance is spectacular, since they play an enormous number of percussion instruments (probably about 100 – the platform is a fascinating sight when they play!) and have to choreograph their movements so they don’t keep bumping into each other as they dash from one instrument to another.

The music they play is varied, from arrangements of classical repertoire to modern classics such as music by the popular American minimalist Steve Reich, and many works with a pop or rock influence, but often within a classical format. It’s an intriguing mixture of styles, and anyone who enjoys music with strong rhythms will like this programme. Young people, including anyone who plays the drums in any kind of music, will also find it very entertaining. This programme, which they play from memory (in itself quite an achievement), will finish our season with a bang!

The duo is heavily involved in music education and frequently performs in schools, colleges and other institutes of learning in addition to working regularly with the Southern Sinfonia Orchestra as part of their excellent education projects. They recently visited the Royal Northern College of Music to perform, and have been invited to perform for the Juilliard Percussion Seminar at the famous Juilliard School of Music, New York. We are planning some school visits around their concert for the SMS.

 

Definition: ‘PERCUSSION’

‘Percussion’ is the name for a family of instruments ‘(perhaps the most ancient in existence) which are usually played by striking a resonating surface with a stick or the hand, or by a pedal.’ ( Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music , ed. Michael Kennedy.) They fall into two basic groups: (i) tuned or keyed percussion like xylophone, glockenspiel, vibraphone, etc., with a piano-type keyboard layout, and (ii) untuned, like drums, cymbals, and many exotic instruments. In recent years some solo percussionists like Colin Currie and Dame Evelyn Glennie have achieved international fame as percussion soloists, with many outstanding works written for them. Percussion ensembles have also become immensely successful, ranging from duos such as the Safri Duo from Denmark through to larger ensembles, often from Universities or Conservatoires. maraca2 are the newest stars of this genre.

GREAT START TO 2007’s CONCERTS

We hoped for, and even expected, a big turn-out for the King’s Singers, and so it proved – we had virtually a capacity audience, who expressed great enthusiasm for what was a wonderful concert. The Singers performed with all the deep musicianship and technical aplomb for which they are famous, in a programme ranging from Tallis to James Taylor and including a number of beautiful extracts from their new CD Landscape and Time. One feature of their performance stood out significantly – their diction was superb, and their words were clearly audible at the back of the hall. Their personalities won many new friends for them, as indicated by the fact that they sold £400-worth of their CDs!

We had some very nice comments after the concert, not least from the Singers themselves – they were very complimentary about the audience, and indeed the hall itself (they relish the clarity of the sound), and even expressed a real wish to come back to us. Something we will try and organise without hesitation, if funds permit!

 

APPRECIATION

We also had a letter from Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa, whose piano duet recital was so marvellous last October – they say: “we really appreciated the level of planning which went into the concert and the way everything was so brilliantly organised, not just on the day itself but also in the weeks and months leading up to the recital.” All testimonials gratefully received! Joseph and Waka gave us a wonderful evening, with a feast of great music (including some of the most established masterpieces of the duet repertoire from Mozart, Schubert and Dvořák), Matthew Rogers’s excellent new piece, which we were able to commission thanks to the kindness of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, and of course the original duet version of Debussy’s La mer. The last really works splendidly in this version, and quite apart from their great musicianship, what was so impressive about their performance was the colours they obtained from the keyboard, and, especially in the Debussy, the rippling demisemi quavers.

SPONSORSHIP AND DONATIONS
We are delighted to acknowledge a generous donation from the Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, of London. This is the first such donation we have received from a major giver outside our immediate area, and it enables us to proceed with our plans for next season with renewed confidence. Donations and Sponsorship are an important part of the income for any artistic venture, and I hope local businesses and Foundations might be helpful to us in the future.

We have also gratefully received a generous private donation from a donor who prefers to remain anonymous, so I hope they read this and understand that we are indeed most appreciative.

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY We would like to draw your attention to the following:

Thursday 15 th March, in the Assembly Hall, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham, at 8 pm : Faversham Music Club present a recital of operatic arias by the soprano Marin Christensen.

Saturday 12 th May in the Millennium Hall, Fulston Manor School, at 7.30 pm: The regular Spring concert by Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society, with their new conductor Andrew Lowen: The Creation by Haydn, plus The Armed Man (Karl Jenkins).

Lost in Translation
A programme note on Wagner’s Die Walküre (English translation): “Deemest thou praiseworthy wedlock’s breach, then prate thou yet farther, and call it holy that shame now blossom forth from bond of twin-born pair!” The programme-note writer comments drily “Her reactions are expressed with force, if not brevity.”

Saturday 14 th July 2007 at 7.30 pm, Shirley Hall, King’s School, Canterbury: A piano recital by the talented young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor (who won the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition at the age of 11) – music by Chopin, Ravel, Scarlatti, Bennett (to be confirmed), the recital being given in aid of the Save the Children Fund.

AGM and Summer Newsletter There will be a further Newsletter, not just for Members, in the Summer, outlining next season’s programme and giving notice of our next Annual General Meeting.

Change of Editor

Sadly, David Williams’s recent illness left him feeling unable yet to resume his work as Editor of the Newsletter – we very much hope his recovery continues apace and look forward to his returning to the fold. So it means that for the time being the Artistic Director has taken up the challenge again – hopefully for not too long! David made several excellent changes to the layout and look of the Newsletter, and I hope he’ll forgive me if I continue to use some of them. Meanwhile, please note our Chairman’s Message, below! Editor

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE I feel that we have now made the breakthrough we have all been hoping for. The King’s Singers concert has shown that we can draw in the crowds with ‘quality’ programmes. We have survived the initial years of establishing ourselves in the cultural life of the town and district. I also feel that Year Five of our existence will be the ‘crunch time’. To meet that challenge we need your help. This is what I would like you to do:- 1. Renew your subscription for the full programme next season; 2. help us with publicity by ‘word of mouth’ and by accepting a poster to display in your front window/garden or in a public place. Please help us to expand and to reach more music-lovers. Peter J. Morgan

Winter 2006

Let’s make it a Full House for

The King’s Singers

Friday 26 th January, 7.45 pm
Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College

Probably the most famous and versatile vocal ensemble in the world, the King’s Singers have delighted audiences everywhere since 1965, when six choral scholars from King’s College, Cambridge, first formed the group. They have since sung with many famous orchestras world wide, and recently with the Cincinnati Pops. They have appeared with artists as diverse as Dame Kiri te Kanawa, the jazz pianist, George Shearing, Dudley Moore, and Evelyn Glennie, the Scottish percussionist. The group has maintained stability over the years; today’s six bring the total in the last forty-one years to just nineteen singers. Their programme will include music by Byrd and Tallis, leading Elizabethan composers, and a new work written for them by John McCabe. ‘Cartography’ is a setting of six short poems by Jo Shapcott, evoking landscape and memory on a journey from Hadrian’s Wall to Offa’s Dyke.

It is a rare treat that The King’s Singers are coming to Sittingbourne. Renowned for the blend and balance of their performances, their popularity is rooted in their infectious enthusiasm. To quote the Times: They are ‘still unmatched for their musicality and sheer ability to entertain.’ Spread the word among your family and friends and within your local community. Invite someone to fill the spare seat in your car. Let’s make sure we have a full house. And please note: Copies of their recent beautiful CD, “King’s Singers’ Christmas”, will be on sale at the November concert.

GREAT START TO THE SEASON

It was pleasing to see a good turnout for the first concert of our 2006/07 Season, given by the highly entertaining Galliard Wind Ensemble. We sold fifty-plus tickets on the door, in addition to our membership, which was great, but as always a bit scary, since we have no way of knowing how many to expect before the night. So we want to encourage as many as possible to pay up front for the season ticket, as this is assured income for the Society. However good the artists are to us, our concerts are costly to arrange, and since our artists are professional, they rely upon their concert fees for their income. There are many hidden expenses also, notably the hire of pianos. It is hardly surprising that our finances are always on a knife-edge. We must expand our committed membership to build a secure future. Local sponsorship has not proved easy to find, though we are grateful to Swale Borough Council and M-Real for their assistance, and also for the support from Swale Charitable Trust.

Mixing Babies with Music

The Galliard Wind Ensemble played superbly, and I particularly admired the ladies’ glamorous green dresses. Kathryn Thomas, the flautist, has an eight-month old baby and has only been getting four hours sleep at night for months. After travelling down from North London, and a long rehearsal, though a giggly one – the musicians are obviously good friends – Kathryn was at one point stretched out on the floor backstage, grabbing forty winks. Then, after the concert, an hour or so on the journey home, and may be another broken night. Babies just have to mix with everything!

Incidentally, Alice Neary, our cellist in November, also has an infant, now about two years old. When the child was a baby she used to take it to concerts with her; the empty cello case doubled as a backstage cradle – with supervision, of course!

Monica McCabe

 

Alice Neary (cello) and Gretel Dowdeswell (piano)

Friday 24 th November, 7.45 pm

Millenium Hall, Fulston Manor School, Brenchley Road, Sittingbourne

These two young artists have both won several major awards and have received critical acclaim, as solo artists and together as a duo – a musical relationship now long established. As winner of the 1998 Pierre Fournier Award, ‘The Times’ described Alice Neary as a young cellist ‘of the highest calibre’. Gretel Dowdeswell is also a founder member of the Gould Piano Trio; she broadcasts frequently on BBC Radio 3. Their programme will include solo as well as duo pieces.

Solo Cello Suite No 2 in D Minor – J.S. Bach

With his six solo cello suites Bach gave an authority to the cello as a solo instrument it had not known before. The suites explore the rhythmic character of dance; each movement is built around a different dance, arranged to emphasise the contrasts between them. In this Suite the movements are: Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuet I/II, and Gigue.

Sonata No 21 in C Op 53 (Waldstein) – Beethoven

Considered one of Beethoven’s greatest piano sonatas, it was dedicated to Count Ferdinand von Waldstein, an early patron of Beethoven, who arranged for Beethoven to study with Joseph Haydn.

Cello Sonata No 2 – Brahms

Brahms explained that his two great cello sonatas were ‘for piano and violincello’, meaning that the piano was given equal importance to the cello, rather than simply providing an accompaniment, which was often then the case.

Passacaglia for Cello – William Walton

Written in 1980 for the Russian cellist Rostropovitch, Walton used a dance form first used by Baroque composers, notably Bach. Other famous examples are the finale of Brahms’s 4 th Symphony, and the Passacaglia in Benjamin Britten’s opera ‘Peter Grimes’.

Definition: ‘PASSACAGLIA’

A ‘passacaglia’ is a musical form derived from a court dance. The Spanish is ‘passacaille’, which combines two words meaning ‘to walk the street’, suggesting

it is music to be played by wandering musicians. Sometimes confused with the

similar ‘chaconne’, a passacaglia is built around a constantly repeating

melody in the bass line and is in 3/4 time.

( From Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia)

 

SIR MALCOLM ARNOLD (1921-2006) – The Great Entertainer

A tribute by John McCabe

 

The recent death of Sir Malcolm Arnold has robbed the musical world of one of its most flamboyant characters. He was a composer of great range and variety, as well as a conductor of exceptional gifts – gifts mostly seen in his own music. I can also recall, however, his superb interpretations of Tchaikovsky and Berlioz. His vast output inevitably includes some duds, but there is a remarkable number of excellent works. He was one of the few contemporary composers to have achieved genuine and widespread success, including, but not only, his immensely successful film scores. His witty music for the film ‘Hobson’s Choice’, and one of his English Dances chosen to introduce the TV programme, ‘What the Papers Say’, are good examples. Equally humorous are the ‘Sea Shanties for Wind Quintet’, which were played by the Galliard Wind Ensemble at our September concert. He was loved by orchestral players and by audiences alike. Malcolm Arnold was recently described as the English Shostakovitch. There is much truth in this, and his refusal to kow-tow to Britain’s musical commissars (resulting in his neglect by some of the establishment) somehow reinforces this image. The heart of his music lies in his nine symphonies, which cover an enormous range, from the sunlit, extrovert, No 2, to the shadows underlying the profoundly moving No 5, to the extreme spareness, even gloom, of No 9, whose D major ending is curiously uplifting. Malcolm himself suffered from chronic mental illness, also alcoholism, and his life story makes uncomfortable reading. Yet he had the strongest constitution imaginable. After every reverse he pulled himself back together again, in later years with the aid of his carer, Anthony Day. He continued to write those blazing – sometimes sentimental, sometimes humorous, sometimes savage – works, which will surely keep his name alight. But he will be remembered most as one of music’s greatest entertainers.

 

Sir Thomas Beecham on Film Music

“Movie music is noise.

It’s even more painful

than my sciatica.”

New Works and Recordings

by John McCabe

Our Artistic Director has recently been phenomenally busy, as composer and pianist. He has three new compositions being premiered this winter:

  • Wednesday 10 th January 2007 : His 6 th Symphony, ‘Symphony on a Pavane’, commissioned by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, will be performed by them in the Queen Elizabeth Hall (South Bank), with the American conductor, Steven Sloane.
  • Friday 26 th January : ‘Cartography’, John’s latest work for the King’s Singers (see p. 1).
  • Friday 16 th February : His Horn Concerto , commissioned by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, will be played by David Pyatt (horn) with the Orchestra, under Tadaaki Otaka, in Swansea, and on Saturday 17 thin St. David’s Hall, Cardiff.

 

New piano recordings by John:

  • Three Piano Sonatas by John Joubert (Somm), also Joubert’s Song Cycles , with Lesley- Jane Rogers (Toccata Classics). These discs will be released in 2007 to celebrate Joubert’s 80 th birthday.
  • Complete Piano Music of Alan Rawsthorne (Dutton Epoch CDLX7167).

A Programme of Dance-inspired music for Two Pianos , (with Tamami Honma) by Copland, Stravinsky, McCabe, Britten, McPhee and Athanasiadis (Dutton CDSA6881).

 

Also, for release in 2007:

  • John’s ‘Pilgrim’ for Double String Orchestra , Ballet Suite No1 ‘Arthur
  • Pendragon’ and Piano Concerto No 1 (with John as soloist), with the

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under Christopher Austin.

There are also some items on mixed recital programmes, from other sources:

  • ‘Scenes in America deserta’ , King’s Singers (Signum Classics) – autumn release.
  • ‘Concerto funebre’ , with violinist Sarah-Jane Bradley and Orchestra Nova, under George Vass (Dutton Epoch) – autumn release.
  • ‘Canyons’ , Royal Northern Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Chandos).

Editor

 

Outwitting the Gremlins

My first issue of the Newsletter looked great on my computer; each page

fine-tuned – exactly as I wanted it. But my version of Microsoft Word

proved incompatible with John McCabe’s computer, and when he down-

loaded it for printing, a gremlin had been at it, changing the fonts, messing

up the layout and, most embarrassing, transforming my discreet little

signature into a loud shout, in much brasher type. Not what I intended.

Thankfully, for this edition, we’ve found a way

of outwitting the Gremlins.

Editor