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