2004

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

THE COMMITTEE

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.

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE!

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.

 

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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!

 

THE SOCIETY’S LEGAL STATUS
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)?

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PROFILE: PETER MORGAN, OUR CHAIRMAN

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!

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CHAUSSON: LES OISEAUX

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.

 


CD PURCHASING
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: shop@rainhambookshop.co.uk.

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.

PROGRAMMES
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)!

COMMUNICATIONS
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