2005

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 www.sittingbournemusicsociety.org.uk 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.

LOOKING FORWARD
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.

 

MEMBERSHIP SOCIETY MEMBERSHIP FOR THE 2005/6 SEASON :

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!

PROFILE: JOHN McCABE, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

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.