2006

Winter 2006

Let’s make it a Full House for

The King’s Singers

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

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

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

GREAT START TO THE SEASON

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

Mixing Babies with Music

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

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

Monica McCabe

 

Alice Neary (cello) and Gretel Dowdeswell (piano)

Friday 24 th November, 7.45 pm

Millenium Hall, Fulston Manor School, Brenchley Road, Sittingbourne

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

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

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

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

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

Cello Sonata No 2 – Brahms

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

Passacaglia for Cello – William Walton

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

Definition: ‘PASSACAGLIA’

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

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

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

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

( From Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia)

 

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

A tribute by John McCabe

 

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

 

Sir Thomas Beecham on Film Music

“Movie music is noise.

It’s even more painful

than my sciatica.”

New Works and Recordings

by John McCabe

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

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

 

New piano recordings by John:

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

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

 

Also, for release in 2007:

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

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, under Christopher Austin.

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

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

Editor

 

Outwitting the Gremlins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

of outwitting the Gremlins.

Editor

Summer 2006

INTROIT

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

 

INTRODUCING

OUR AUTUMN CONCERTS

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 .

 

ONE WAY TRAFFIC

is not the aim of this Newsletter.

We would like feed back from you to:

dandwwilliams@hotmail.co.uk

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?

 

MALCOLM BINNS – REISSUED RECORDINGS John McCabe

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

(SRCD205)

- 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)

 

TICKETS FOR THE 1906-07 SEASON

£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

Beethoven!

Mozart

 

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. .