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Summer 2006


It is with some trepidation that I have assembled my first issue of the SMS Newsletter. As a thorough layman musically I could not presume to step into John McCabe’s shoes as editor, nor do I. I can simply offer a life-long love of music, which has been one of the profoundest influences in my life. I think we are remarkably fortunate, in Swale and Medway, to have regularly brought to us such high quality music-making from professional musicians, with established or growing reputations.

In this issue we highlight the two concerts this autumn, which promise the usual mix of wonderfully varied programmes. Of particular interest will be a new work, composed especially for our concert in October by a young Sittingbourne composer, Matthew Rogers.

Thank you for subscribing to the Newsletter. Your continued commitment to the Society is both appreciated and vital as we seek to build our membership. Please make the concerts known among your family and friends, and within any other groups or organizations to which you may belong. The success of the SMS concerts depends upon the audiences we attract and are able to retain. So please join us at the AGM on Wednesday 20 th September, if you possibly can.

Fostering “the Prommers’ Spirit”

A few years ago my wife and I became “prommers” again, at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. We wondered if we could cope with the queuing and standing after so many years but were pleased to find we could. It was good to be back in that vibrant arena.

When we acquired the Proms Programme for 2006 we were glad to see a feast of Mozart in his 250 th anniversary year, as we thumbed through, looking for favourite works and composers. But the Proms are also about exploring new music, or music new to us, and the infectious enthusiasm for this is one of the attractions of promming.

We have this same mix of the familiar and unfamiliar in our Sittingbourne Music Society concerts, which is why we need the prommers’ spirit here too. Our autumn concerts will include two great works by Mozart, plus other popular composers such as Schubert, Debussy and Dvorak. But how can we approach the less familiar and the modern?

First, we need to resist the temptation to compare everything with Mozart. Every composer speaks from their own times and with their own musical language. So we have to listen to them on their own terms. Inevitably, we shall find some works and composers more challenging to understand or even to enjoy. But in my experience, if you keep an open heart and lively imagination, you can make some exciting discoveries where you didn’t expect to find them. Being open to that is what I mean by “the prommers’ spirit”. Let’s foster it in the SMS.

I hope the following programme notes will help.

David Williams




Friday 29 th September, 7.45 pm

Galliard Wind Ensemble

Bourne Hall Sittingbourne Community College , Swanstree Avenue, Sittingbourne

This ensemble was formed in 1993, when its members were fellow students at the Royal Accademy of Music. They have since won recognition by receiving several major awards and by being selected as Radio 3 Debut Artists.

‘The Marriage of Figaro or the Crazy Day’ was the full title of Mozart’s comic opera; it was at first banned in Vienna because it mocked the upper-classes. Unusually, the Overture, which we shall hear, does not include any themes from the opera itself but beautifully evokes the mood of this cautionary morality tale which at times borders on farce. Several folk-based works include, ‘Three Sea Shanties’ by Malcolm Arnold, Ligeti’s delightful Hungarian folk-song arrangements, Percy Grainger’s ‘Walking Tune’, and ‘Opus Number Zoo’, by Berio



Galliard Wind Ensemble

Carl Nielsen

Two other main works in the programme, may not be familiar.


Quintet for Wind Instruments, Carl Nielsen

The leading Danish composer of the 20 th Century, Nielsen was inspired to write this work for friends who had formed the Copenhagen Wind Quintet and who gave its first performance in 1922. Robert Simpson has written:

“Nielsen’s fondness of wind instruments is closely related to his love of nature, his fascination

for living, breathing things. He was also intensely interested in human character, and in the

Wind Quintet, composed deliberately for five friends, each part is cunningly made to suit the individuality of each player.” *

This has led to a comparison with Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’, in which each variation also depicts one of Elgar’s friends. *(Sierra Chamber Society Copyright 1997)


Summer Music, Samuel Barber

Unlike most of his fellow composers in the USA, Samuel Barber’s style of composition looks back to the romanticism of the late 19 th Century, as in his most famous work, the ‘Adagio for Strings.’ ‘Summer Music’, however, is impressionistic in style. Paul Wittke has written:

“Barber explains, (it) depicts a sunlit world, evoking well kept lawns, clanging trolleys with straw seats, beloved relatives, Brandywine picnics, drowsy afternoons, cool porches and even (apocryphal!) a sexual experience.” (Quote: Copyright, G.Schirmer Inc. 1994)


Friday 27 th October, 7.45

Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa (piano duet)

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College

These outstanding young piano duettists were prize winners in musical competitions in Tokyo and the Czech Republic. They refer to themselves as ‘Piano 4 Hands’. The Times, in 2002, described them as ‘precision-tooled piano duettists’ and ‘brilliant new performers’.

Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa

Claude Debussy

Their programme begins with Mozart’s Sonata in F K497, regarded as one of his greatest. Dvorak’s ‘Slavonic Dances’ express the rhythms and tunes of his homeland. Debussy’s masterly evocation of the moods of the sea, is best known in its orchestral version, but was composed originally for the piano. The composer was inspired by the sea off Beachy Head while on holiday in Eastbourne.

Of great interest will be the world premier performance of a new work commissioned by the SMS from Matthew Rogers, a talented young Sittingbourne composer, born here in 1976.


Sittingbourne Composer – Matthew Rogers

Matthew recently returned to Sittingbourne following three years at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. He became ‘composer in residence’ there with the new Ensemble Symposia. He has also studied with Olivier Knussen in the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, and has had music performed at the Aldeburgh Festival this year. Currently Matthew has work selected for the finals of the Philharmonia Orchestra/Martin Musical Scholarship Competition and also for the Birmingham Conservatoire New Millennium Competition. Matthew has joined the newly formed Camberwell Composers Collective, who are currently planning the second event in their new concert series. We await with anticipation Matthew’s new work for piano duet on 27 th October .



is not the aim of this Newsletter.

We would like feed back from you to:

2nd Annual General Meeting of the Sittingbourne Music Society

Wednesday 20 th September, 7.30 pm

at the Avenue Theatre, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne


AGMs may not have the same appeal as an evening of beautiful music. But you really can’t have one without the other. (As it happens, there will be a short musical interlude to entertain us at the AGM this year, provided by a group assembled by Derek Boyne from Opus 32.)

The truth is, the remarkable series of chamber concerts that have delighted so many of us music lovers in Swale and Medway in the last three years would not have been possible without the commitment of a dedicated Management Committee working under the leadership and inspiration of John McCabe. (I can say this, not being one of them! Editor.) But not even they can sustain SMS without the active support of members.

Our greatest need is to find a Public Relations Officer; someone with the aptitude and time to give to promote the Society and our concert programmes throughout North Kent. This will include developing our links with local media and enlisting other kinds of local support. The role will be spelt out during the AGM. The PRO will have the backing of the Management Committee. There are also other small but important ways in which many hands can make light work. For example, SMS is looking for as many people as possible who would be willing to post handbills through doors, or place them on seats. Could any of these roles be you?



Following Malcolm Binns’ memorable recital recently, members may like to know that some of his celebrated recordings have been reissued on CD by Lyrita:

- Sterndale Bennett’s delightful Piano Concertos: 1 and 3 (SRCD204), 2 and 5


- Stanford’s passionately romantic 2 nd Piano Concerto in C minor (SRCD219)

Also, by Explore Records:

- A two CD set of Beethoven’s last five Piano Sonatas (Op 101 to 111), from Malcolm

Binns’ famous recordings of the complete set, is coupled with the Hammerklavier

Sonata in B flat Op 106.

-Two early romantic Sonatas by Hummel (Op 81and Op 88) are worth exploring on (EXP0009)



£10 (£1 under 18s)

We think you will agree this is great value for the opportunity to hear high quality music- making by professional artists of national and international reputation.

Tickets can be obtained from:

Swade Music , Roman Square, Sittingbourne.

By post , from Jeane Holmes, 106 College Road, Sittingbourne, ME10 1LQ.

(cheques please to ‘Sittingbourne Music Society’, plus s.a.e.)

At the door before each concert.

We regretthat:

Tickets will no longer be available through outlets in Rainham, Faversham and Sheerness, due to the low level of sales produced. Our thanks to those retailers for their past help. We cannot take sales by telephone.

Spring 2006

The ordinary music lover has always found it difficult to understand the new music of his own time – to participate in the emotions and appreciate the melodic ideas of any composer who has something original to say and an original way of saying it. It is only of recent years that the depths of feeling inherent in Mozart’s music have been generally realised and understood, yet the emotion was always there for those with ears to hear and hearts to understand!” [Igor Stravinsky, 1934]

‘Kent, sir—everybody knows Kent—apples, cherries, hops and women’ – so wrote Dickens in Pickwick Papers. And for our next concert, the Quatuor Parisii—from Paris, as you might expect—help us to celebrate two, at any rate, of this quartet, with Bridge’s charming arrangements of Cherry Ripe and Sally in our Alley. History doesn’t record whether the eponymous Sally was from Kent. I tend to think of her as Lancastrian, but that’s probably because of a dim confusion with ‘Sally, Sally, Pride of our Alley’ and Gracie Fields—thus, sadly, revealing my age. Anyway, Sally in our Alley is a much prettier tune.
Our first two concerts of 2006 ran practically back-to-back (because of artists’ availability), so thanks to all our workers for the effort involved, and of course thanks to our supporters (without whom we could not exist) for supporting. Especial thanks to new recruit Garrie Harvey, Head of Music at SCC, for providing the platform at Tunstall, and for strong-arming it back out again, virtually by himself. We had two splendid concerts, demonstrating the enormous breadth of the classical repertoire, from early music on recorder and guitar, to Late Romantic piano music on a singularly beautiful Steinway grand. What depth of artistry amongst the three musicians, too! I was particularly struck by Malcolm Binns’ magisterial performance of Bax’s 3rd Piano Sonata, and Garrie Harvey was bowled over, I know, by John Turner’s brilliant technique on the recorder. We were able to appreciate his superb artistry, as also with Craig Ogden’s idiomatic and colourful playing of Villa-Lobos, Bach, Walton and Rawsthorne.

Thanks to John Turner, we were also gifted with two new works, both of them delightful additions to the repertoire. John Joubert, nearly 80, went to considerable trouble and expense to join us for his Duettino. We were also delighted to see a number of Philip Cowlin’s family, including, despite illness, his widow Margot, who again went to trouble and expense to attend. We are indebted to both composers for their generosity, and to Peter Hope, for completing the Caprice after Philip Cowlin’s sad death in August.
I’m sorry to say we still haven’t quite sorted out the acoustic at SCC’s hall, which suffers from a not unfamiliar gremlin, namely that the larger the audience, the more the sound is absorbed. I only wish you could all have heard the quality of the Steinway during Malcolm Binns’ afternoon rehearsal. Following the Julian Lloyd Webber concert last season, SCC generously undertook to improve the acoustic, which it has done, but I understand one of the problems is that clothing absorbs the sound and spoils the acoustic. There is one obvious but impractical remedy, which would certainly catch the attention of the world’s Press but might not go down well in January, in Sittingbourne! MMcC

LOOKING FORWARD Our next two concerts cover, as usual, a wide range of music. The world-famous Quatuor Parisii will be playing Mozart’s beautiful G major String Quartet K387 (which happens to be my favourite, by coincidence) and Ravel’s gorgeous F major Quartet, one of the glories of French chamber music. They are also giving us a performance of Tippett’s Second Quartet, in F sharp, a belated tribute to his centenary (which was last year) – it is full of jazzy rhythms, strong influences of the early English madrigal composers and Purcell, and covers a wide emotional range, including one of the wittiest Scherzos in the repertoire, and a powerful, thoughtful finale. The Quatuor also include two of Frank Bridge’s entertaining folksong arrangements, genuine, if short, concert pieces. [Friday, 24th March at 7.45 pm.]

Young Ravel Cartoon Charlie Brown, who entertained us so royally at our Launch in September 2004, made a great impression on that occasion, and quite a few people wanted us to invite him back, so he returns on Friday 5th May at 7.45 (both these concerts are at Sittingbourne Community College). Charlie took keenly to the idea of a kind of “Portrait of the Artist”, so he’ll play the complete Solo Sonata No 4 by the great Belgian virtuoso and composer Ysaÿe (of which he played one movement to much acclaim at the Launch), plus sonatas by Beethoven and Ravel, finishing with John Ireland’s Phantasie Trio No 1 in A minor, a work that really established his reputation in the early years of the 20th century and a trio with passion and romantic warmth as well as a typical folksong influence. Charlie will be joined by his regular colleagues, cellist Simon Williamson and pianist Dawn Hardwick, all young artists making great starts to their musical careers in London. It’s marvellous to be able to give this opportunity for a major engagement to a talented young Kent-born musician such as Charlie, who deserves our utmost support. J McC


Tippett: a characteristic picture




PROFILE: MONICA McCABE – Artistic Administrator

As many of you will know, I’m a local girl, and despite the occasional bout of irritation, largely proud of it. I was born in Borden, where I still have strong family connections (my eldest brother is the church organist). I went to Borden C of E, and then on to what was known as Sittingbourne County Grammar School for Girls, when it was in the High Street, later moving to the new building in Highsted Road. As a family we all learned to play the piano, under Miss Cora Greenslade, who again some of you may well remember.
My first idea was a career in science, specialising in botany, but I gave up on that when I realised I’d be more likely to be stuck in a laboratory, rather than out picking buttercups under a blue sky. (Ecology had yet to be invented as an occupation.) So instead I went to London with all my belongings in a little blue suitcase, to make my fortune. I landed a job in a very eccentric classical record shop, and thereafter worked my way through various areas of the classical music world, including recording, and publishing—meeting many strange and interesting folk en route, not least my husband. For several years I was assistant editor and columnist on Records and Recording magazine, now sadly defunct. My very first assignment was to interview André Previn, one in a queue of c. 250 journalists, when he became Chief Conductor of the LSO. I was so nervous my hands wouldn’t stop shaking enough to jot notes (these were largely pre-tape days) and had to rely on my memory, which fortunately served me well enough. I have never forgotten his kindness to this obviously greenhorn reporter.
Since John and I got married, I’ve devoted my time to his career, where my knowledge of aspects of, for example, recording have proved useful. I can claim responsibility for setting up the recording of his multi-disc set of the complete Haydn Piano Sonatas, among other recordings. I’m still not sure that I’ve made my fortune, but my philosophy has been not to be too fearful to try almost everything—except perhaps page-turning and bungee-jumping, two eminently sensible exceptions. MMcC

Our Chairman, Peter Morgan, has written the following remarks: “Monica McCabe is our mentor, our motivator and our mistress. She is the one behind all the details which make each concert such a success. Her forethought and meticulous preparations make it easy for the rest of us to do our assigned tasks in the knowledge that everyone is contributing to the success of the whole. At each pre-concert meeting she presents us with a screed of instructions, which we happily accept, itemising every second of the preparation for the concert and the inevitable clearing up. We are aware of her thoroughness which is based on years of experience as John’s manager, chauffeur and constant companion as he travels the country on his musical appointments. We are the beneficiaries of all this organisational skill; and we are deeply grateful to her for her unfailing efforts to see that all goes well for our guest-musicians, our concert-goers and our publicity.” Julie and David Burns add the following: “Monica always bears the brunt of looking after the artists before, during and after concerts, and makes a very good job of looking after the committee members too! She cares deeply about the welfare of everyone concerned, and the standard of our concerts is of the greatest importance to her.”

J.S. Bach

Claude Debussy

LOOKING FORWARD, AGAIN A brief look forward to next season, 2006/07, again with six concerts. It is possible that the year after that we will have to revert to five concerts a season, simply because of the pressure of time on the overworked volunteers who make up the Committee. However, we’ve been able to organise what we think is a mouth-watering season for you, starting with a well-known and splendid wind quintet, the Galliard Ensemble, and finishing with a dynamic young percussion Duo, maraca2, whose energy and virtuosity is brilliant. Both these concerts include items which should be attractive to families. We have also been able to persuade The King’s Singers to perform for us – a bit of bartering went on, as they offered the concert at a greatly reduced fee on condition that John McCabe wrote a piece specially for them, so there will be a short première at that concert. We also have the masterly clarinettist David Campbell, with the Sacconi String Quartet, a brilliant young ensemble currently zooming up the quartet rankings, a superb young piano duet team Joseph Tong and Waka Hasagewa, and, fulfilling an ambition of the Artistic Directors right from the start, the cello and piano duo of Alice Neary (playing Bach, for which she has become justly famous) and Gretel Dowdeswell (playing Beethoven, a complete cycle of whose sonatas she has recently completed at Brunel University). They combine to give us Brahms’s supreme F major Sonata, No 2, and other highlights of the season include Clarinet Quintets by Mozart and Weber, Debussy’s La Mer in the composer’s own duet transcription (how often do we get a chance to hear this great work in Sittingbourne?) as well as duets by Mozart, Schubert and Dvořák, and the lovely Wind Quintet of the Danish master Carl Nielsen, his equivalent to Elgar’s Enigma with its portraits of his friends “pictured within”. JMcC

NUTS AND BOLTS As a matter of information, we felt you might like to know something about the nuts and bolts of running a Society like this. It would take far too long to outline the whole process, from choosing the artists, through discussing dates and programmes with them or their agents, booking halls, getting the programme notes prepared and printing them, and so on. But there are some things you might find interesting. One of our major costs is the hire of pianos. It is not generally appreciated just how expensive this is, nor how important it is that visiting pianists should have the best that we can afford. We can’t ask artists of the calibre of Malcolm Binns, for example, to play on anything less than the best, if we can afford it. The cost of hiring the full-size Steinway, for instance, was £900, including tuning – but what most people don’t know is that a very large proportion of this expense is the cost of removals. For example, of our hiring costs of c. £530 for the smaller Yamaha for our first concert of this season, only one-third was the cost of the piano, the balance being removal charges. In that instance, tuning costs were additional, making a round cost of some £575—or roughly 57 paying customers. This, inevitably, restricts us to the number of concerts we can give involving piano—in our first season we had three, in our second we have two, and we’re planning next season to have two. As a pianist, I’d like to have more, but we can’t afford it.

UNIVERSITY HONOURS We were delighted to be told that Jeane Holmes, our indefatigable Membership Secretary, was recently awarded a B.Sc. from the Open University, in the Social Science Faculty—one of her dissertations was on Information and Communication technologies and networks and how they are remaking ‘international order’. We were also delighted to learn, only a few weeks later, that our Artistic Director has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by Liverpool University.

OUR PATRON, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, is celebrating his 70th birthday with events around the country, among them appearances under the auspices of the Sounds New Festival in March. On Friday 24th March at 7.30 pm in the Pavilion on the Sands, Broadstairs, saxophonist John Harle performs Bennett’s Soprano Saxophone Sonata, Three Piece Suite and 3 Sondheim Waltzes, plus works by Duke Ellington and Ravel, with RRB at the piano. On Saturday 25th March at 7.30 pm in the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury, the Orchestra of the Swan, conducted by Nicholas Cleobury, plays Bennett’s Saxophone Concerto (John Harle the soloist), Seven Country Dances, and Reflections on a Theme of William Walton, plus Stravinsky’s Apollo and a new work by Errolyn Wallen. The following day, Sunday 26th March, in collaboration with Dance Warehouse , also in the Gulbenkian Theatre but at 3 pm, Bennett’s Saxophone Sonata, Jazz Calendar and Theme from Murder on the Orient Express, together with a new work by Basil Athanasiadis, will form the basis of what should be a delightful event. Finally, on Sunday 26th March at 7.30 pm in the Gulbenkian Theatre, RRB joins forces with vocalist Claire Martin for an evening of cabaret songs and piano music.

NEWSLETTER EDITING It may be that after this, there might only be one more such Newsletter, a general introduction to next season which we might circulate more widely than restricting it to the Membership. The reason is quite simple: lack of time. Your Editor is going to be extremely preoccupied with his own compositional work over the next few years, and nobody else on the Committee as it is at present can possibly add this to their other duties. I’m rather amazed at how much they all manage to do, anyway! If some willing person were to step forward and take this on, it would let us continue, but unless someone does, it will be impossible for us to continue. This isn’t a financial problem, simply a time/logistics difficulty. If you’re willing to help us, or know anyone who might, please do let us know! JMcC

CONCERTS IN THE AREA We would like to draw your attention to some other local concerts:
Faversham Music Club Thursday 16th March at 8 pm in Queen Elizabeth’s School, Abbey Place, Faversham: the Royal Academy of Music Brass Soloists, directed by James Watson.
The Eimer Trio: Saturday 18th March 2006, 7.30 pm, at St Peter’s Methodist Church, St Peter’s Street, Canterbury, as part of the Music at St Peter’s series, again in association with Sounds New. The programme consists of trios by Haydn (E flat major), McCabe (Desert III: Landscape) and Shostakovitch (his great Trio No 2 in E minor).
Rochester Choral Society Saturday 8th April 2006 at 7.30 in Rochester Cathedral: Masses by Langlais, Pizzetti, Widor, plus Vaughan Williams’s Five Mystical Songs and Serenade to Music. A gorgeous programme!
Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society conducted by Michael Downes: Saturday 13th May in Fulston Manor School at 7.30 pm: the programme includes Fauré’s popular Requiem and Poulenc’s stirring Gloria.
Maidstone Symphony Orchestra / Brian Wright Saturday 20th May in the Mote Hall, Maidstone: Walton’s scintillating Partita, Schumann’s Cello Concerto (with Adrian Brendel), and Elgar’s 1st Symphony. .

Autumn 2005

John Wesley visits Sheerness, Wednesday 16th December 1768: “In the dock adjoining to the fort there are six old men-o’-war. These are divided into small tenements, forty, fifty or sixty in a ship, with little chimneys and windows; and each of these contains a family. In one of them where we called, a man and his wife and six little children lived. And yet all the ship was sweet and tolerably clean; sweeter than most sailing ships I have been in.”

THE EIMER PIANO TRIO This outstanding young ensemble will open our second season on Friday, 14th October 2005 at 7.45 pm with a typically enticing programme. Two classical masterpieces of the repertoire, Haydn’s magnificent E flat major Trio (No 30) and Dvorák’s delightful and deservedly popular Dumky Trio, share the concert with the short Notturno in E flat by Schubert, a single concert piece of great beauty, and to mark the centenary of his birth, the 1962 Piano Trio by Alan Rawsthorne, whose anniversary has been celebrated by many Festivals and concert series through the year. The Rawsthorne is marked by vigorous counterpoint, exciting rhythms, and a Theme and Variations movement based on a hauntingly lovely, almost medieval-like tune. The work ends in a peaceful, valedictory A major.

The Eimer Trio have played together since their student days, and won prizes at international competitions, as well as being frequent visitors to Festivals and Music Clubs both as an ensemble and as soloists. Nicola Eimer will be featured as piano soloist at next year’s prestigious Presteigne Festival, and in September this year performs Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto at St John’s, Smith Square, London, with the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra and conductor David Josefowitz. Cellist Emma Denton and violinist Matthew Denton have also featured as soloists at concerts in Britain and abroad, including the Three Choirs Festival. Their first appearance at the Brighton Festival, in a programme of Haydn Trios, led to immediate invitations to return, and after winning the Bäreneiter Prize at the 2002 ARD Piano Trio Competition in Munich, they were immediately invited to perform at the Mecklenburg Festival in NW
Germany in 2004.



Alan Rawsthorne (1905-71) The young Schubert (1797-1828) Antonín Dvorák (1841-1904)


THE YEAR OF THE SEA 2005 has been officially designated “The Year of the Sea” (the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar providing the “hook” for it), and the second concert in our 2005/06 season is a collaboration with Sittingbourne Community College, with the College providing the speakers, in an evening of song, verse and prose. SCC have thrown themselves with their usual whole-hearted enthusiasm into this project, which we hope may reach out to some who might otherwise be doubtful about attending a classical concert.

Our brochure gives an idea of the vocal content, so here’s a little about the spoken side. The first half ranges from Whitman’s heroic sea-poetry and Hardy’s Lines on the loss of the Titanic, taking in Matthew Arnold’s magnificent Dover Beach before moving into the realms of fantasy with Tennyson’s The Kraken, Full Fathom Five from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and verses from that beautifully-written (if now slightly unfashionable) poem The Forsaken Merman, again by Arnold. The second half stays closer to home, with Nightfall by Ronald Washington (I assume, a local writer), and a humorous saga by one ‘Marlin Spike’, about taking a barge-load of bricks from Milton Creek to Barkingside. We touch on some personal history, with a short letter from my grandfather, who, as a lad, had to leave school and help his father on board ship, after his mother died. At the age of 15 he brings the barge in by himself to Erith, as his father is taken ill on board and dies the next day. The short letter, to his big sister Ada, asks for help and advice.

After a reference to local boat-building we pass rapidly—and out of time sequence—via Dunkirk, to Samuel Pepys’ dismay at the Dutch sinking of our warships in the Medway, after burning the garrison town of Sheerness. Then on to Trafalgar, a tribute to our Royal and Merchant Navies, and via Betjeman’s Seascape to Tennyson’s eloquent and spiritual poem Crossing the Bar.

The music also ranges widely, from art-songs by Fauré, Duparc, Borodin and Elgar (two favourites from his Sea Pictures) to popular parlour songs—Sea Fever (Ireland), Trade Winds (Keel), and Drake’s Drum (Stanford). We touch on Sullivan (When I was a lad, or Ruler of the Queen’s Navee, from HMS Pinafore), Haydn (his swashbuckling tribute to the British sailor, in Sailor’s Song) and the moving Tom Bowling, by Dibdin. This song, with its apt nautical metaphors, has been popular since it was written, in 1789. Sir Henry Wood incorporated it into his Fantasia on British Sea-songs, as a centenary Trafalgar tribute, and it has been played at the Last Night of the Proms ever since; so it’s particularly apt that we should include it in this concert. Other music includes a beautiful setting by Britten of the traditional song Sail on, sail on—one of Thomas Moore’s Irish Melodies. And perhaps the most moving of all, a haunting folksong from Norfolk, The Captain’s Apprentice, arranged by Vaughan Williams, where a conscience-stricken captain recounts the tragic tale of his young workhouse apprentice.

A considerable mixture, then, and we hope you will find something to please. We’re delighted to welcome for this event the husband-and-wife duo of mezzo-soprano Claire-Louise Lucas and composer-pianist Jonathan Darnborough, who have recently recorded Elgar’s Sea Pictures (original version) for an Elgar Society commercial CD, and Tony Eldridge (baritone), who is well-known in Kent particularly for his solos with the Canterbury Chamber Choir (of which he is Chairman), most recently in Handel’s Dixit Dominus at the Presteigne Festival.. MMcC
Tony Eldridge at Aldeburgh Claire-Louise Lucas and Jonathan Darnborough










PHILIP COWLIN We are deeply sorry to announce that the composer Philip Cowlin died in August, after a long illness. He was writing a short new piece for our February concert, for performance by John Turner (recorder) and Craig Ogden (guitar), and we are hoping that there is enough of the sketch for it to be possible for the work to be completed. If so, we will be able to offer the performance as a tribute to his memory. Mr Cowlin lived in Margate, and was working on the music even while he was in hospital. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family.

FEEDBACK Remember, we are very pleased (hopefully!) to receive feedback from members, regarding repertoire, artists, locations and other matters. Apparently it seems that SCC was your preferred location last season. Tunstall Church was “magical” according to some, though others had problems over sightlines and parking. We feel that we haven’t quite got refreshment provision sorted as yet, but we are working on it. The trouble is that each location has a different set of problems to get organised, and now, of course, the licensing laws have changed as well. Hot drinks are not possible to provide—we don’t have the facilities or staff. Not everyone wants alcoholic beverages. Again, feedback is useful. And do tell us if there is something you have particularly enjoyed—positive comments are also useful!

PROFILE: MILES ATWELL (Communications)

Miles has been a loyal and essential member of the Committee from the very start, and is a very busy teacher and performer – he performs in various ensembles as far afield as Faversham and Dover, including a string quartet and a piano trio (with our good friend Don Goodsell, who is a moving spirit behind the Oare String Orchestra. His work, as our Communications member, has involved him in setting up our website (see below), and also acting as our Making Music Representative, which is a particularly useful contact for us. He says of himself (with characteristic modesty):

“As your Communications representative, I was amused at our inaugural meeting, when our chairman Peter Morgan introduced me as Miles Attwell, a “Military Musician”. That ten years seemed like ancient history, half a lifetime ago, though it did have a formative influence on lots that has followed. I left the Royal Marines Band to study Music and Theology at Exeter University in 1969.

Pat and I then moved to Guernsey with our three young children, where I was appointed Director of Music at Elizabeth College for 25 years. The experience in the services proved invaluable in seeking to establish an orchestral tradition where none had existed before. As in this area, it is hard for an isolated school to develop a good orchestra, so I also worked with musicians, parents and music lovers outside the College to develop an island-wide musical environment.

A heart bypass operation caused me to leave teaching, and work on the computers in one of Guernsey’s many banks for six years. Then I retired (again) and we returned to the UK in 2001, and I work part time for Kent Music School as a peripatetic violin/viola teacher. This interest in computing has enabled me (with some initial difficulty I must say) to set up the Society’s web site which we hope will inform you and widen the appeal of our concerts within the area.”

MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS / NEWSLETTERS Can we remind those of you who receive this Newsletter but have not yet renewed your membership that you’d be very welcome to do so? We’re very keen to increase our membership, naturally, which will enable us to provide the best service we can. Similarly, those who wish to receive the Newsletter only but haven’t renewed this subscription can do so for a cost of only £5. Members’ Newsletters after this one will, of course, only to go to Members and Newsletter Subscribers. If you have any friends who might be interested to join us, do try and persuade them to come along and participate in what is proving to be a successful and exciting venture.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING Our first Annual General Meeting was held on 11th July at the Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, and went very smoothly. There were reports from the Chairman and Secretary, and the essential business of electing officers of the Society. In the event, there being no further nominations, the present Committee was (should that be were?) elected to continue, namely:
Chairman: Peter Morgan / Secretary: Julie Burns / Treasurer: David Burns / Membership Secretary: Jeane Holmes / Communications: Miles Attwell / Artistic Director: John McCabe / Artistic Administrator: Monica McCabe. To conclude the occasion, we were given a delightful performance of Haydn’s Lark Quartet in D, Op 64 No 5, by a young ensemble from the Kent Music School, the D’Avanzo String Quartet.

SPONSORSHIP Running a concert series is an expensive business. Apart from artists’ fees, we have hall charges, piano hire and tuning, insurance, printing, special purchases (we now have our own heavy-duty music stands, and pleasant, though inexpensive, chamber-music lighting, as well as glasses—fortunately two committee members have cellars). There are also smaller, though considerable, costs of stationery and postage. We’re grateful for the continued input from Swale Borough Council, and this year we are also glad to have the help of several Composer Trusts. Chasing money is going to be a major preoccupation for the Sponsorship Sub-Committee, but nevertheless we do have some major ideas that we hope to find money for in future seasons.

TICKET OUTLETS We are very grateful to The Rainham Bookshop, The Barley Mow (Faversham), B A Fitch Newsagents (Sheerness) and Sittingbourne’s own Swade Music (Roman Square) for kindly acting as ticket sales outlets for us. Tickets are available approximately one month before each concert. Postal sales can be made through Mrs Jenifer Blenard, 149 Athelstan Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8QW. Please send a cheque made out to “The Sittingbourne Music Society”, and a stamped, addressed envelope. Please note: we are unable currently to deal with telephone bookings, and cheques should not be made out to inviduals.

NEWSLETTERS BY E-MAIL: Although we have tried, the idea of distributing Newsletter by e-mail hasn’t worked as well as we’d hoped. The problems are that there was only a small number of people taking up this offer, and that there are several different programmes which would be needed to do so, and the time involved in making several different versions of the Newsletter simply isn’t available – it already takes several days to compile, write, check and print it. We’re sorry about this, but other priorities take precedence.

CONCERTS IN THE AREA We would like to draw your attention to some other local concerts:
Oare String Orchestra Saturday 24th September 2005 at the Alexander Centre, Faversham: Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn and strings, plus works by Berkeley, Mozart, Parry and Canadian composer Robert Rival’s prize-winning work Red Moonrise over Lac Rhéaume—conductor Peter Aviss.

Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society Advance notice of their Christmas concert: Saturday 17th December, at the Swallows Leisure Centre, Sittingbourne, conducted by Michael Downes. The concert includes Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Finzi’s masterly In Terra Pax, and carols.

Canterbury Chamber Choir On Saturday October 15th, George Vass’s innovative choir celebrates its 10th anniversary with a concert at St George and St Martin Church, Wye at 7.30 pm—programme to include works by Bach, Gorecki, Macmillan and Fauré’s Requiem – this concert is part of the Canterbury Festival.

Summer 2005

First Annual General Meeting of The Sittingbourne Music Society Members are invited to the above meeting which will take place on Monday 11th July 2005, at the Avenue Theatre, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne, commencing at 7.30pm.

A G E N D A 1.

Chairman’s Welcome
2. Apologies for absence
3. Chairman’s Report
4. Secretary’s Report
5. Treasurer’s Report and adoption of accounts
6. Election of Directors/Officers: Chairman Company Secretary Treasurer Artistic Director Artistic Administrator Communications Director Membership Secretary
7. Appointment of Auditors
8. Any Other Business NOTES At the first AGM, all Directors must retire and offer themselves for reappointment.

Any member wishing to nominate someone for appointment as Director must do so in writing not more than 35 clear days and not less than 14 clear days before the AGM, providing full details of the person so nominated, and the signature of that person indicating their willingness to stand.

LOOKING BACK Our first season finished with a flourish on 6 th May with a superb concert by the young Dutch quartet, the Prinse Quartet. Gratifyingly, the Director of one of Kent’s major Music Festivals was present and has immediately engaged the Prinse Quartet for his Festival. Some features of 2004/05:

    • We finished the season with an average audience of 174, which is remarkable for a first season and proves that there’s a need for the SMS in this community
    • We presented established masterpieces by Mozart (2), Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Ravel
    • We presented 3 works each, mostly substantial, by Britten and Debussy
    • There was a fascinating, unheralded inner strand of French music (9 works by 7 composers)
    • We programmed a variety of British music from Purcell to the present day, including several composers with Kent associations
    • We gave premières of Matthew Rogers’ a beginning for clarinet in our opening concert, and Chausson’s Les Oiseaux in January – both works are sure to be heard again
    • The programmes included several highly successful “unknowns” – the Sextet for piano and winds by Thuille (November) was particularly well received
  • We have ensnared our first patron, composer and pianist Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

We’ve had a wonderful array of artists, who have generously charged us very low fees. We can’t expect this kind of generosity in future – before long we will have to pay more realistic fees. Meanwhile, to all of them we offer our very sincere thanks for everything they’ve done to help establish the SMS so well.

We are planning what we think is an enticing and varied season for 2005/06:

    • Six concerts instead of five – members will get one concert free (6 for the price of 5)
    • The artists range from brilliant young performers such as the Eimer Piano Trio, and Kent violinist Charlie Brown (whose Ysaÿe at our Launch whetted our appetite for a return), to international stars such as the famous Quatuor Parisi and pianist Malcolm Binns, whose recital will be a highlight of the season
    • We have a special Year of the Sea event in collaboration with the Drama and Art Departments of Sittingbourne Community College – poetry and songs reflecting Swale’s maritime associations
    • The repertoire ranges from Greensleeves and Cherry Ripe through the ages, and we celebrate the centenaries of great British composers with very communicative chamber works
    • Premiéres include new pieces for recorder and guitar from John Joubert (who wrote the carol Torches) and Kent composer Philip Cowlin, and the season is framed by piano trios: Haydn and Dvořák (Dumky) in October, and John Ireland’s warmly romatic Phantasie Trio in May
    • Great masterpieces by Haydn, Dvořák, Beethoven (2), Chopin, Handel (2), Mozart, and Ravel

Please do contact us and let us have your views – that is the only way we can make our work successful. And please, tell us if you particularly liked something – that is just as useful! We are staying with Fridays at 7.45 pm– this has always been discussed quite extensively, but most concerts in the area take place on Saturdays, Sundays are very busy church days for many people, Mondays are normally pretty audience-unfriendly, and midweek is often taken up with local choral or orchestral rehearsals.

Weekends are also more manageable for a small society like ours when it comes to school halls etc. There is no ideal day or time, nor is there an ideal concert venue – we’re very grateful to the venues we have used, particularly Sittingbourne Community College for unfailing hospitality. You will see in our brochure that we have an exciting collaboration with them next November.

We are continuing to investigate different halls, but at the moment the field is limited, and we don’t want to outstay our welcome at any one of those we use.



Trustees will be recommending the following membership fees for 2005/6 to the AGM on 11 July

Corporate Season Ticket £200, Family Season Ticket £100

Individual Season Ticket £50 (that is 6 concerts for the price of 5)

And a continued £5 to receive the Newsletters only.

Completed forms (see below) will be accepted at the AGM (cheque or cash only please)

SMS Membership Secretary: Mrs Jeane Holmes Telephone: 01795 423589

Do renew your membership as soon as possible if you like what we’re doing, 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. We think what we’re doing is exciting and worthwhile – do join us on this voyage of discovery!

VOLUNTEERS We are in real need of Volunteers to help run the Society, in all sorts of ways. At present, it 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 – even non-members might find it interesting to be involved with some aspect of running the Society, so please come forward and help.

John McCabe 23rd May 2005 Artistic Director

Spring 2005

OUR LAST CONCERT Two wonderful things have happened since we started our Society’s run of concerts—wonderful to my mind, at any rate. The first was the congratulatory letter, which we were surprised and pleased to find in the January 2005 issue of Gramophone magazine (reprinted in our last Newsletter). The second happened not long after our Tunstall concert, when a lady stopped me in Sittingbourne High Street, and told me how much she’d enjoyed that evening. It was the first concert of classical music she’d ever been to, she told me, but she and her husband had loved it so much that they were coming to the next one. She had made my day, I said. It made all my lying awake worrying about Tunstall parking, road bumps and chicanes, worthwhile! Thank you once again, wonderful audience, for your enthusiasm and support, and for your patience and understanding, over our various problems. And a bouquet from me to Miles, for dealing with the car park with such aplomb.

Personally, I found the Tunstall concert quite magical, and despite the obvious problems of sightlines, pews and parking, it is a most atmospheric venue. I’ve seen pictures of the church, looking beautiful in the snow—however, I was deeply glad that this January’s light dusting arrived a few days later, even if the sight of the young lady musicians, clad in what my husband always refers to as “gownless evening straps” did make me feel a trifle chilly on that very cold night. MM

Pupil and Teacher: Beethoven and Haydn Maurice Ravel at the Piano

Galliard Wind Ensemble

Carl Nielsen

BENEFIT CONCERT Our next concert is a Benefit for the Society, given by our Artistic Director John McCabe (see later for a Profile). It is a piano recital of Haydn, Beethoven, Ravel and Schumann, and for this concert we have most graciously been loaned a splendid grand piano by John Phelps-Penry, who is one of our members. The recital will also contain two short works by John himself, one of them inspired by the sound of the bells at Tunstall Church (we hope none of the bell-ringers will sue…). The other piece, Snowfall in Winter, is connected with a visit a year or so back to Lithuania, but perhaps we can also picture that as snow falling gently on the old church and churchyard at Tunstall. Tunstall Chimes was commissioned by the British Music Society for their Piano Competition last October. The rest of the programme reflects some of John’s favourite repertoire, from Ravel’s popular Sonatine and Schumann’s well-loved Carnival Jest from Vienna (complete with quote from the Marseillaise!) to classical sonatas by Haydn, whose sonatas he has recorded complete, and Beethoven (the great penultimate Sonata in A flat, Op 110). MM

THE PRINSE QUARTET The last concert in our first season is given by an outstandingly talented young String Quartet from Holland, the Prinse Quartet, coming to us immediately after a concert at Amsterdam’s famed Concertgebouw Hall. They have chosen a programme which coincidentally reflects three aspects of Benjamin Britten: his compositions (the majestic 2nd String Quartet in C major), and his deep love of the music of Purcell and Mozart, of both of whom he was an outstanding interpreter as pianist and conductor. Purcell is represented by three of his eloquent Fantasias, Mozart by one of the most lyrical of his late quartets, in A major, K575. Their concert is on Friday, 6th May, at 7.45 pm in the Main Hall at Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue, Sittingbourne.

Benjamin Britten

Henry Purcell

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

TALKING ABOUT MUSIC We held the first of our Discussion Groups on 31st January, and have decided to rename this series Talking about Music (with apologies to Antony Hopkins, whose famous Radio series in the 1950s and 60s were so successful). It describes very much better what we are doing—composers John McCabe and Matthew Rogers discussed, with a small but obviously very discerning group, a topic that seemed a useful starting-point: “What is melody?” Those present enjoyed some extracts from music by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Ligeti, Webern, Debussy and Malcolm Arnold (the original Whistle down the Wind, no less) and all those present took part in the discussion. Do come along and join us for the next two, both on Mondays at the Avenue Theatre, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne at 7.45 pm: March 14th and May 9th. Everybody’s welcome to take part, and the discussions are not too technical.

PAGE-TURNING We are always going to be in need of volunteer page-turners – Julie Burns did a splendid job for Rebecca Woolcock on 19th November. It requires great concentration, and details have just come to hand (via the critic Guy Rickards) of an interesting new dimension to this topic. Reprinted without permission from Edmonton Centre newsletter, Canada, and Canadian RCCO newsletter, the following programme notes are from an unidentified piano recital.

Tonight’s page turner, Ruth Spelke, studied under Ivan Schmertnick at the Boris Nitsky School of Page Turning in Philadelphia. She has been turning pages here and abroad for many years for some of the world’s leading pianists.  In 1988, Ms. Spelke won the Wilson Page Turning Scholarship, which sent her to Israel to study page turning from left to right. She is winner of the 1984 Rimsky-Korsakov Flight of the
Bumblebee Prestissimo Medal, having turned 47 pages in an unprecedented 32 seconds. She was also a 1983 silver medallist at the Klutz Musical Page Pickup Competition: contestants retrieve and rearrange
a musical score dropped from a Yamaha. Ms. Spelke excelled in “grace, swiftness, and especially poise.”  For techniques, Ms. Spelke performs both the finger-licking and the bent-page corner methods. She works from a standard left bench position, and is the originator of the dipped-elbow page snatch, a style used to avoid obscuring the pianist’s view of the music. She is page-turner in residence in Fairfield Iowa, where she occupies the coveted Alfred Hitchcock Chair at the Fairfield Page Turning Institute. Ms. Spelke is married, and has a nice house on a lake.
[We are suspicious that someone’s tongue was firmly in cheek when the above was written.]

THANKS are gratefully offered to a number of people who, though not on the Committee, have given sterling support by some essential work for us. Rosie Lintott and Yvonne Vedamuttu have been very helpful in particular with box-office at the concerts, and the Rev. Margaret Mascall has kindly acted as our liaison on Sheppey, not least in organising and collating ticket sales via B. A. Fitch Newsagents. We’re very much indebted to them all for their assistance – are there are more volunteers out there? We still need extra hands to help out in all sorts of ways (distribution, setting up displays, running the concerts, etc.).

We were pleased to see that June Morgan, wife of our Chairman, Peter, managed to get to our Tunstall concert. June has had such a bad time with her hip operation last autumn, suffering infection and recurrent pain. It’s good to see that she seems to be improving at last. Peter meanwhile has been delving into domestic black arts hitherto unknown to him—and, we have a shrewd idea, hitherto unsuspected. Keep up the good
work with the oven, iron and washing machine, Peter!

It is also good to see progress made by Mrs Jenifer Blenard, who put so much into our set-up as our first Treasurer and had to resign because of a serious leg injury—she’s been able to come to all of our concerts, and though mobility is likely to be restricted for some time to come, improvement is steady and we hope will continue apace. Being a trained therapist must be a help!


John McCabe has been described by Michael Kennedy, the former Daily Telegraph editor and well-known writer on music, as “an all-round musician”. Born in Liverpool in 1939, John was badly injured in a fire as a toddler, and was too ill to attend school until he was eleven. Despite this — and encouraged by rifling through his parents’ collection of 78s while at home — he showed early musical promise, and was taken on at the age of eight by the great piano teacher Gordon Green, who lived nearby.

His interest in writing music developed concurrently, and after leaving the Liverpool Institute (where a fellow-student was Paul McCartney) he studied at Manchester University, the Royal Manchester College of Music (now the Royal Northern College) and at the Hochschule für Musik, Munich, garnering then and later a large collection of letters after his name. He was given the award of CBE in 1983 for his services to music.

John has pursued a dual career as composer and pianist, making many piano records, including a famed set of the complete Haydn piano sonatas for Decca, and ranging from Clementi and Scarlatti through to his own and much contemporary British and American music. As a composer he has written works ranging from full orchestra through to chamber, solo instrumental, brass band, film and TV music (“his” TV series Sam has recently been released complete on DVD). Quite a few works are recorded, including his Flute Concerto (with Emily Beynon) and his full-evening ballet Edward II, which was commissioned by Stuttgart Ballet and received a 15-minute standing ovation at its première—it was later taken up with great success by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Since moving to Swale, he has written several works inspired by this area, including Tunstall Chimes (to be heard in his recital), Les Martinets noirs (a concerto for two violins and string orchestra written for the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and inspired by the sight of swifts flying over Albany Park), and The Maunsell Forts, for brass band.

John’s life is largely overtaken by music, but given the opportunity, he loves to read, and watch films (his long-suffering wife will testify to his inability to bypass a book, record or music shop). He has been an avid cricket follower since 1950 (when he saw one of Brian Statham’s earliest county matches, in Liverpool) and can quote statistics at least as well as Bill Frindall. Watching golf (though not playing it) is another favourite relaxation, and he harbours the fond belief that he can play snooker (he lost his only competitive match). He also loves good company, food, red wine and good Scotch. MM

AGM Proper notice of full details will be given in due course, but please make a note in your diaries that our first Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday, 11th July 2005—we hope it will be at 7.30 pm at the Avenue Theatre, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne.

WINE AND WISDOM Don’t forget our Wine and Wisdom evening: Minterne Junior School, Minterne Avenue, Sittingbourne, on Saturday 5th March at 7.30pm – £4 each, including supper. Please bring your own wine and glasses – fruit juice will be provided. Please book tables of 8 (or less) by telephoning Julie and David Burns on 01795 410 840.

TICKET OUTLETS We are very grateful to The Rainham Bookshop, The Barley Mow (Faversham), B A Fitch Newsagents (Sheerness) and Sittingbourne’s own Swade Music (Roman Square) for kindly acting as ticket sales outlets for us. Tickets are available roughly one month before each concert. Postal sales can be made through Mrs Jenifer Blenard, 149 Athelstan Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8QW. Please send a cheque made out to “The Sittingbourne Music Society”, and a stamped, addressed envelope. Please note: we are unable currently to deal with telephone bookings, and cheques should not be made out to inviduals.

CAR-SHARING We are still in need of volunteers for Committee work, and in particular we need volunteers for car-sharing duties, so we can help people with transport problems to get to our concerts more easily. Please help!

NEWSLETTERS BY E-MAIL: After numerous teething troubles, we now seem able to send the Newsletter by e-mail to those who have kindly agreed to receive it in this way. It will be sent in two formats: Publisher (for those who have this software) and as a pdf file which people can open and/or print in the normal way, for those who haven’t. We hope this will work well and be useful to everybody.

FORTHCOMING CONCERTS IN THE AREA Saturday 14th May, The Swallows Leisure Centre, Sittingbourne, Kent, at 7.30 pm: Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society, with their new conductor Michael Downes, will perform Mozart’s powerful Requiem and the exhilarating Dixit Dominus by Handel. The programme will also include Bach’s Concerto in D minor for 2 violins and string orchestra.

Maidstone Symphony Orchestra have two fascinating concerts coming up, both on Saturdays at the Mote Hall, Maidstone, at 7.30 pm, conducted by Brian Wright. On 19th March, Chlöe Hanslip plays Elgar’s great Violin Concerto—Carl Nielsen’s delightful Pan and Syrinx and the Mussorgsky/Ravel Pictures from an Exhibition complete the programme. On 21st May there is a Gala Concert, opening with John Adams’ brilliant curtain-raiser A Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto in C minor, followed by Richard Strauss’s autobiographical masterwork Ein Heldenleben. John Lill is the soloist.

Rochester Choral Society, at Rochester Cathedral, Saturday 16th July at 7.30 pm: Tippett’s enduring masterpiece A Child of our Time, plus Elgar’s beloved Enigma Variations and Britten’s Te Deum.

Autumn 2004

Tuesday 15 th May 1759 : “Refreshed ourselves at the Rose at Sittingbourn. The Assembly is kept here. A good Room & Conveniency for Musick”

From ‘A Tour into Kent’ in the Berkshire Record Office

OUR FIRST CONCERT Well, we did it! I can hardly believe that our first concert is now behind us, and I’m so pleased that all the reactions I’ve heard have been good. There were a few last-minute glitches. The piano-tuner never received his confirmation (sent by e-mail, it disappeared into his “Spam”), and only frantic phone-calls got him to us just in time. And then, half-way through the concert, I found out that Ian Buckle, our pianist, had cut his hand two days previously on a broken glass, and was playing with stitches and a dressing on one hand! That’s real professionalism. He felt he could go ahead and do the concert. He didn’t want to let people down. He wanted no excuses to be made (and indeed he didn’t need to make any – everybody must have been impressed with the quality of his playing). But it shows that, however carefully you may think you’ve planned things, there’s still room for everything to go wrong! MM

A personal note: when I was up in Manchester about a week following our first concert, I bumped into the Oboist from Zephyr Winds, Ruth Davies, and she told me they’d really enjoyed playing for us, and what a great audience we were! I thought you’d like to know. She also said there was a real buzz about the occasion, and that they all noticed that there was a wide age range within the audience, something I hope we’ll be able to maintain. JM


CHAIRMAN: Peter Morgan Tel: 01795 423 215

SECRETARY: Julie Burns, 5 Pond Drive, Sittingbourne ME10 4QF Tel: 01795 410 840

TREASURER: David Burns Tel: 01795 410 840

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY: Jeane Holmes, 106 College Road, ME10 1NL Tel: 01795 423 589

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: John McCabe Tel: 01795 423 551

COMMUNICATIONS: Miles Attwell Tel: 01795 477 233

ARTISTIC COORDINATOR: Monica McCabe Tel: 01795 423 551


Those who have kept a close eye on us will notice some changes in the Committee’s personnel. Both the Secretary, Philippa Baron, and the Treasurer, Jenifer Blenard, have been forced to withdraw from their posts because of ill-health, much to everybody’s regret. They both worked immensely hard and skilfully to set the Society up in respect of legal and financial organisation, and did a wonderful job – we will miss their presence at the meetings, and wish them both speedy and full recoveries. We’re lucky that our latest recruits, David Burns and Jeane Holmes, have taken on the posts of Treasurer and Membership Secretary respectively, and they’ve already proved worthy successors to Philippa and Jenifer. Both of the latter, by the way, delighted us by being at our first concert, and we look forward to seeing them at future events.


TICKET OUTLETS As you know, The Rainham Bookshop, The Barley Mow (Faversham), and Sittingbourne’s own Swade Music ( Roman Square) have all kindly agreed to act as ticket sales outlets for us. We can now add a site on Sheppey: B. A. Fitch, Newsagents, 68 High Street, Sheerness, Kent ME12 1NL. We’re delighted to have this contact on Sheppey, and hope for closer links with the Isle in the future.


THANKS to various friends and supporters. We’re most grateful to Swale Forward for generous sponsorship towards the cost of this season’s concerts – this gives us great confidence that what we are doing is seen as useful for the community in which we live. Westlands School sent a small party of young people to our first concert, and we were delighted to welcome them – we hope they enjoyed it as much as we did! And Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society (see also below) have been extremely supportive in helping to publicise our concerts. Julie Burns, our Secretary, is, of course, now Chair of the Orpheus, and has been a leading light in their organisation for some time – we’re lucky to be able to draw on her expertise.


The Kent local press did us proud, with big interviews with cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, and photos – we even made the front page! Our second concert bids fair to have a sizeable audience. Julian is, of course, a big draw, and we’re very fortunate that he’s being extremely generously to us! He and his excellent pianist, Rebecca Woolcock, are giving us a varied and fascinating programme, starting with a Bach Adagio (a very well-known piece, as it happens!) and continuing with short pieces by Bridge, Britten (two brilliant, short movements from his Cello Sonata), and Fauré (the exquisite Elégie), culminating in two major sonatas from the repertoire and some family-connected items. The sonatas are the elegant Debussy Sonata in D minor, inspired by figures from the Commedia dell’arte, and the great Sonata No 1 in E minor by Brahms (pictured left at age 27), full of romantic passion and symphonic energy. The family in question is Julian’s own – his father, William Lloyd Webber, is represented by a charming, melodic Nocturne (he was a very good composer, whose work Julian has been able to introduce to many people in recent years), and Julian has written his own tribute to Jacqueline Du Pré, Jackie’s Song, equally lyrical. We are hoping that Rebecca will give us a Chopin piano solo as well, which will mean that we have represented one of the greatest piano composers in our first season. The concert is at the Main Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue, on Friday 19 th November at 7.45 pm.



Please note: There is substantial car parking at Sittingbourne Community College, including overspill, and it is hoped there will be people to help direct the parking. Please be warned that there is another school next door, Meadowfields, immediately before Sittingbourne Community College, and on the same side – their

gates might be locked, but if they are open it is very easy to mistake it for the Community College entrance!


Julie Burns, our Secretary, sends us this summary: “The Society is now a fully-formed company, and our Committee Members are Directors with limited liability. This means that the Society is properly equipped to enter into contracts with venues and artists, and able to take out appropriate insurances.

The Society will hold an AGM at the same time during the year, although the date for our first AGM is yet to be set. At that meeting the Directors will offer themselves for re-appointment, at which time our Members (season ticket holders) will be able to indicate whether or not they have been satisfied with our performance! All our adult season ticket holders will have one vote each, and any company that takes out Corporate Membership will have four votes at the meeting.

Our next step, now that we are settled legally, is to apply for charitable status. This will make fundraising much easier, and ensure the stability of the Society in years to come.” JB

E-MAIL DELIVERY OF NEWSLETTER : If subscribers, whether full Members or Newsletter-only Members, would be willing to receive the Newsletter by E-mail, would they let us know? It would certainly help us by cutting down our expenses, and would also be a quick and easy way of distributing. We realise that not everyone will want this, but if you do agree, then in future we will send the Newsletter by E-mail. Please let either the Secretary or the Artistic Director know.

COMMUNICATIONS We would like with your permission to send out brochures, special notices and newsletters by E-mail. This will save us a lot in print and postage. So we would be grateful if those who are happy to receive electronically, would let the membership secretary know their E-mail address. Of course this will not be broadcast for unsolicited mail. 

LATECOMERS We all realise how difficult it can sometimes be to arrive on time for concerts, for all sorts of reasons (weather, traffic, phone calls, lost keys, Persons from Porlock, etc.), but late arrival can sometimes cause disturbance to audience members and even performers. Can we ask latecomers if they would kindly wait until the first pause in the music (normally either after the first piece, or the first movement of a Sonata)?



County Councillor Peter J. Morgan is a retired teacher. B orn in 1926 in Brynmawr, Gwent, he moved to the Sittingbourne area after training as a teacher. He specialised in Music and Religious Education, and later Careers Guidance and Citizenship. Peter entered public life in the 1950s, serving on the Sittingbourne & Milton Urban District Council, then later Swale Borough Council, becoming Mayor of Swale 1987/88. He was elected to Kent County Council in 1990 and served as Chairman 1996/97. Peter is still involved in many charitable organisations, including Citizens Advice Bureau, the Volunteer Bureau, and HomeStart – Community Affairs, he says, is one of his special interests, hence his service as a Councillor, and also “in offering counselling to people, e.g. representation at appeals.” His interest in music and education continues, and he is currently Chairman of Governors of Queenborough School, Chairman of Life Education Centres (North & East Kent); and a Governor of the Kent Music School.

He lists his interests, apart from Community Affairs, as:

“1. Listening to music, particularly choral pieces especially of they are sung by good Welsh choirs (not the ones which go sharp or flat).

2. Local History – hence my involvement in the Sittingbourne Heritage Museum and the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum.

3. My only pastime is watching some of the astonishing documentaries on TV on landscapes, geology, science, architecture, i.e. anything which opens my eyes to human knowledge, experience, activity. I find facts much more fascinating than fiction.

4. I have no hobbies now except perhaps observing my five beautiful grandchildren and sharing in their developing talents and personalities.”


Right from the start of the SMS Peter has devoted an astonishing amount of time and energy to getting the Society going, and was kind enough to donate his KCC Councillor’s Grant to help establish the Society. Without his sterling work there is no doubt that we would never have got off the ground!



The detective story which was revealed in earlier Newsletters has reached a successful conclusion – some of the pieces of incidental music to a Parisian production of Aristophanes’ The Birds, written in 1889 by this great French composer, have been worked into a single concert piece for Flute and Harp by our Artistic Director, at the request of Emily Beynon. It will be published by Novello & Company, though probably not until after the first run of performances, but it’s something of a feather in our cap (no pun intended) to have not one but two World Premières in our first season, and one of them by a great name from the past! It was only possible to finalise this decision at the end of October because of investigations into the minefield of French copyright law, even more complex than our own.

Emily and Catherine Beynon are performing it in our concert on 21 st January 2005 at Tunstall Parish Church, and they are also giving four further performances in this country on January 22 nd (Welwyn Garden City),23 rd (Aylesbury Music Centre), 25 th (Wigmore Hall, London), and 27 th (Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge). They’re also hoping to be able to take it on tour to Japan next summer, so the name of The Sittingbourne Music Society will have reached international stature very quickly!


FORTHCOMING CONCERTS IN THE AREA (We hope to publicise information of this kind if we can):

OPUS 32 with Claire Williamson (soprano) and Gary Marriott (tenor)

St Mary’s Parish Church, Faversham, Saturday 27 th November at 7.30 pm:

“In Good Company” – a musical extravaganza

SITTINGBOURNE ORPHEUS CHORAL SOCIETY The Swallows, Sittingbourne, Saturday 11 th December at 7.30 pm: their annual Christmas concert. This will be Ray Jones’s last concert as Conductor before he retires, and should be a very special occasion at which to celebrate his achievements.

OARE STRING ORCHESTRA : Alexander Centre, Faversham, Saturday 29 th January at 7.30 pm:

John Turner (recorder), the OSO, and conductor Peter Aviss perform works by Philip Lane,

Rawsthorne, McCabe, Howells, and one of the Judges’ Prize-winning works from their

2004 Composing Competition, by Spanish composer Xavier Pagès i Corella.


The Rainham Bookshop has offered a discount scheme for buying CDs. It requires a certain outlay, but is well worth considering! If you buy 6 CDs or £50-worth (or more, of course), you will receive a 10% discount plus free delivery.

Their address is: Rainham Bookshop, 17-25 Station Road, Rainham, Kent ME8 7RS.

Tel: 01634 371 591 / 01634 310 011 [accounts dept.] / Fax: 01634 262 114.

Their Email address is:

THUILLE Ludwig Thuille’s Sextet was a highlight of our first concert – so that you can see what he looked like, here’s a photo of him (see right)!

Summer 2004

Just to remind you, Members (i.e. Season Ticket holders) will receive at least 3 printed Newsletters a year free, and those who are not Members but take out a £5 subscription for this purpose will also receive them. The £5 subscription is, of course, to offset the extra costs of additional copies and postage. Meanwhile, this item is simply to bring you up to date with any news, as well as to give a bit more information about the forthcoming season.

As the latest Newsletter is mailed to subscribers, the previous one will be posted to this page.

In October, we set off on our musical journey with a concert by Zephyr Winds at the Millennium Hall, Sittingbourne – the starting-time was 7.45 pm, which we’ve agreed (for this season, anyway) because it gives people a bit of time to turn things around after work, but doesn’t mean such a late finish as an 8 pm start would do. I was very pleased with this first event, which was well attended and enthusiastically received. It gave a good taste of some of the things we want to do, performing the great masterpieces of the repertoire as well as some more neglected works. There was a chance to hear Sittingbourne’s own Matthew Rogers’ very fine new piece for clarinet, and a light-hearted, immensely skilful wind quintet suite based on English folksongs, Western Winds , by Paul Patterson, who was for some years composer-in-residence at King’s School, Canterbury, and remains a popular figure in Kent musical life. Matthew’s piece was our first world première, and quite a coup.

Julian Lloyd Webber and Rebecca Woolcock played for us on 19 th November, at the Main Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue. The programme included Brahms’ Cello Sonata in E Minor, Debussy’s Sonata in D Minor, and works by Bach, Bridge, Faure and Lloyd Webber. An article in “The Gramophone” relates one person’s impressions. “One freezing November evening, around 400 people crammed into the hall of the local community college to listen to a programme of music for cello and piano. Ticket prices were affordable, under 16s got in for just one pound, and the performances were exemplary. . . It gives one hope to see events like this being well supported, just what classical music needs”.

Why don’t you connect to Julian’s web site on the “Links” page, and listen to some of his musical extracts.

Emily Beynon , our flautist on January 21 st next, finally managed to track down various bits and pieces of incidental music for a Parisian production of Aristophanes’ The Birds in 1889, and she and her harpist sister Catherine will, we hope, be giving the world première of a short flute and harp piece, Les Oiseaux , which they’ve asked me to prepare using this music. I’m always a bit suspicious of “completions” of this kind, because you never know how much of it is original and how much of it has been written by editor, or realiser. I’ve determined that here there is enough probably to make a rather beautiful, short slow movement, simply by rearranging the order of the sections, without actually writing anything myself, and I’m currently trying to work it into a satisfactory whole. If it comes off, and I don’t see why it shouldn’t, this will be another coup for us, and a lovely addition to an already mouth-watering programme, including Debussy’s wonderful Trio for flute, viola and harp in which the Beynons will be joined by Swedish violist Malin Broman.

Ernest Chausson (1855-99) was one of the finest French composers of his generation. His works include some of the most beautiful French songs, as well as the well-known Poème for violin & orchestra beloved of violin virtuosi, a magnificent Symphony in B flat, the hauntingly beautiful Poème de l’amour et la mer for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, an impressive opera Le Roi Arthus (very topical with the release of the Hollywood King Arthur film – I’m surprised the opera companies haven’t woken up to this), and much else. His tragically early death was caused, of all things, by a cycling accident. His output was not large, so our “new” work will hopefully be a very useful addition to his repertoire.

This venue will also be in use for our final concert, by the brilliant young Dutch Prinse Quartet on 6 th May, 2005 – their programme has now been finalised, by the way, and includes Purcell, the wonderful 2nd String Quartet in C by Britten (a work strongly connected to the world of Purcell), and one of the loveliest of Mozart’s late Quartets, in D, K575. One other concert should be mentioned: on Friday, 11 th March 2005 , we return to Fulston Manor School for a piano recital by your Artistic Director. This wasn’t on our original plan, but I stepped in when the pianist who’d engaged had to withdraw for family reasons just before we went to press with the brochure. I am, of course, thrilled to be giving this recital, and will play Beethoven’s Sonata, Op 110, in the correct key of A flat, and not E flat as stated in our brochure (which is entirely my mistake)!

We will be investigating what we can do to initiate a car-sharing scheme, suggested by one of our earliest members, to help those who might have difficulty attending our concerts. We are, however, still in real need of helpers, especially for handling the concerts, and particularly front of house – we have one or two volunteers, but any more who would like to participate in what is an essential, and not really very onerous, task, please make yourselves known to us!

John McCabe
17 th August 2004 Artistic Director