Summer 2006


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




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 .



is not the aim of this Newsletter.

We would like feed back from you to:

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?



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


- 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)



£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.

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