Spring 2007

David Campbell (clarinet) and the Sacconi String Quartet
Friday 23 rd February, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

David Campbell

The Sacconi String Quartet

Our fifth concert this season presents one of the most popular of all classical works (in the classical top 20, according to one recent poll), Mozart’s lovely Clarinet Quintet, in a performance by one of the greatest clarinettists ever to come from Britain, David Campbell. He will be joined by the brilliant young Sacconi String Quartet, who are garnering praise from all quarters and making a great success of their career. Their leader, Ben Hancox, comes from Canterbury –a few years ago he gave a superb recital at Sittingbourne’s Avenue Theatre.

 

THE COMPOSER AND THE VIRTUOSO
The great tradition of composers writing for particular performers has applied especially to the clarinet repertoire. In his late years Brahms, for instance, was inspired by the playing of Richard Mühlfeld to compose his Clarinet Quintet, Trio, and two Sonatas. In our February concert, this tradition is represented by Weber’s Quintet, written for Heinrich Bärmann (for whom he also wrote a Concertino and two Concertos), and the Mozart Quintet, written, like his equally well-loved Concerto and the Kegelstatt Trio, for Anton Stadler.

The programme also includes the wonderfully virtuoso and lyrical Clarinet Quintet by Weber, as well as a typically imaginative String Quartet by the great master of the genre, Haydn, his B flat major Quartet, Op. 50, No. 1, full of warmth as well as wit. The programme is completed by a short work for solo clarinet by David Matthews, Three Roman Miniatures. David’s output of music is enormous, including symphonies, concertos, many string quartets and other chamber music – he was Artistic Director of the Deal Festival for many years (he still lives part of the time in Deal), and he has written authoritative books on Tippett and Britten, as well as Landscape into Sound, a study of the relationship between landscape and music. Roman Miniatures were inspired by Roman poetry (the Emperor Hadrian and Virgil) and myth (the death of Actaeon as described by Ovid), and are both short and very accessible.

Carl Maria von Weber

Steve Reich

maraca2

Friday 30 th March, 7.45 pm

Bourne Hall, Sittingbourne Community College, Swanstree Avenue

The brilliant young percussion duo maraca2 hail from Birmingham Conservatoire, where they have recently successfully completed a gruelling postgraduate degree course. They are already fully-fledged professional artists, increasingly in demand for Music Societies and Festivals, and have already had a number of works written specially for them. Their performance is spectacular, since they play an enormous number of percussion instruments (probably about 100 – the platform is a fascinating sight when they play!) and have to choreograph their movements so they don’t keep bumping into each other as they dash from one instrument to another.

The music they play is varied, from arrangements of classical repertoire to modern classics such as music by the popular American minimalist Steve Reich, and many works with a pop or rock influence, but often within a classical format. It’s an intriguing mixture of styles, and anyone who enjoys music with strong rhythms will like this programme. Young people, including anyone who plays the drums in any kind of music, will also find it very entertaining. This programme, which they play from memory (in itself quite an achievement), will finish our season with a bang!

The duo is heavily involved in music education and frequently performs in schools, colleges and other institutes of learning in addition to working regularly with the Southern Sinfonia Orchestra as part of their excellent education projects. They recently visited the Royal Northern College of Music to perform, and have been invited to perform for the Juilliard Percussion Seminar at the famous Juilliard School of Music, New York. We are planning some school visits around their concert for the SMS.

 

Definition: ‘PERCUSSION’

‘Percussion’ is the name for a family of instruments ‘(perhaps the most ancient in existence) which are usually played by striking a resonating surface with a stick or the hand, or by a pedal.’ ( Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music , ed. Michael Kennedy.) They fall into two basic groups: (i) tuned or keyed percussion like xylophone, glockenspiel, vibraphone, etc., with a piano-type keyboard layout, and (ii) untuned, like drums, cymbals, and many exotic instruments. In recent years some solo percussionists like Colin Currie and Dame Evelyn Glennie have achieved international fame as percussion soloists, with many outstanding works written for them. Percussion ensembles have also become immensely successful, ranging from duos such as the Safri Duo from Denmark through to larger ensembles, often from Universities or Conservatoires. maraca2 are the newest stars of this genre.

GREAT START TO 2007’s CONCERTS

We hoped for, and even expected, a big turn-out for the King’s Singers, and so it proved – we had virtually a capacity audience, who expressed great enthusiasm for what was a wonderful concert. The Singers performed with all the deep musicianship and technical aplomb for which they are famous, in a programme ranging from Tallis to James Taylor and including a number of beautiful extracts from their new CD Landscape and Time. One feature of their performance stood out significantly – their diction was superb, and their words were clearly audible at the back of the hall. Their personalities won many new friends for them, as indicated by the fact that they sold £400-worth of their CDs!

We had some very nice comments after the concert, not least from the Singers themselves – they were very complimentary about the audience, and indeed the hall itself (they relish the clarity of the sound), and even expressed a real wish to come back to us. Something we will try and organise without hesitation, if funds permit!

 

APPRECIATION

We also had a letter from Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa, whose piano duet recital was so marvellous last October – they say: “we really appreciated the level of planning which went into the concert and the way everything was so brilliantly organised, not just on the day itself but also in the weeks and months leading up to the recital.” All testimonials gratefully received! Joseph and Waka gave us a wonderful evening, with a feast of great music (including some of the most established masterpieces of the duet repertoire from Mozart, Schubert and Dvořák), Matthew Rogers’s excellent new piece, which we were able to commission thanks to the kindness of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, and of course the original duet version of Debussy’s La mer. The last really works splendidly in this version, and quite apart from their great musicianship, what was so impressive about their performance was the colours they obtained from the keyboard, and, especially in the Debussy, the rippling demisemi quavers.

SPONSORSHIP AND DONATIONS
We are delighted to acknowledge a generous donation from the Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, of London. This is the first such donation we have received from a major giver outside our immediate area, and it enables us to proceed with our plans for next season with renewed confidence. Donations and Sponsorship are an important part of the income for any artistic venture, and I hope local businesses and Foundations might be helpful to us in the future.

We have also gratefully received a generous private donation from a donor who prefers to remain anonymous, so I hope they read this and understand that we are indeed most appreciative.

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY We would like to draw your attention to the following:

Thursday 15 th March, in the Assembly Hall, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Faversham, at 8 pm : Faversham Music Club present a recital of operatic arias by the soprano Marin Christensen.

Saturday 12 th May in the Millennium Hall, Fulston Manor School, at 7.30 pm: The regular Spring concert by Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society, with their new conductor Andrew Lowen: The Creation by Haydn, plus The Armed Man (Karl Jenkins).

Lost in Translation
A programme note on Wagner’s Die Walküre (English translation): “Deemest thou praiseworthy wedlock’s breach, then prate thou yet farther, and call it holy that shame now blossom forth from bond of twin-born pair!” The programme-note writer comments drily “Her reactions are expressed with force, if not brevity.”

Saturday 14 th July 2007 at 7.30 pm, Shirley Hall, King’s School, Canterbury: A piano recital by the talented young pianist Benjamin Grosvenor (who won the Keyboard Final of the 2004 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition at the age of 11) – music by Chopin, Ravel, Scarlatti, Bennett (to be confirmed), the recital being given in aid of the Save the Children Fund.

AGM and Summer Newsletter There will be a further Newsletter, not just for Members, in the Summer, outlining next season’s programme and giving notice of our next Annual General Meeting.

Change of Editor

Sadly, David Williams’s recent illness left him feeling unable yet to resume his work as Editor of the Newsletter – we very much hope his recovery continues apace and look forward to his returning to the fold. So it means that for the time being the Artistic Director has taken up the challenge again – hopefully for not too long! David made several excellent changes to the layout and look of the Newsletter, and I hope he’ll forgive me if I continue to use some of them. Meanwhile, please note our Chairman’s Message, below! Editor

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE I feel that we have now made the breakthrough we have all been hoping for. The King’s Singers concert has shown that we can draw in the crowds with ‘quality’ programmes. We have survived the initial years of establishing ourselves in the cultural life of the town and district. I also feel that Year Five of our existence will be the ‘crunch time’. To meet that challenge we need your help. This is what I would like you to do:- 1. Renew your subscription for the full programme next season; 2. help us with publicity by ‘word of mouth’ and by accepting a poster to display in your front window/garden or in a public place. Please help us to expand and to reach more music-lovers. Peter J. Morgan

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