Summer 2008

FOUR OF OUR STAR ENSEMBLES

Zephyr Eimer Piano Trio Galliard Wind Ensemble Prinse String Quartet

 

LOOKING BACK

Pictured above are four of the ensembles who have graced our programmes during our first four years. The first three above have all started our seasons, and the Prinse Quartet were our first overseas guests. A full listing of our visiting artists looks like this:

 


SEASON 2004/5

Zephyr Winds with Ian Buckle

Julian Lloyd Webber with Rebecca Woolcock

Emily & Catherine Beynon with Malin Broman

John McCabe

Prinse String Quartet

 

 

 

SEASON 2005/6

Eimer Piano Trio

Claire-Louise Lucas, Tony Eldridge, Jonathan

Darnborough

Malcolm Binns

John Turner & Craig Ogden

Quatuor Parisi

Charles Brown

 

SEASON 2006/7

Galliard Wind Ensemble

Joseph Tong & Waka Hasagewa

Alice Neary & Gretel Dowdeswell

The King’s Singers

David Campbell & Sacconi String Quartet

Maraca2

 

SEASON 2007/8

Zephyr with Ian Buckle

The City Waites

Cory Brass Band

Trevor Pinnock

Carducci String Quartet

John Lill

 

We think this is a pretty stunning roster of artists. The repertoire covered has also been exciting, ranging from early music (the City Waites, Trevor Pinnock’s recital including Draghi, Purcell and Froberger) to new works (two Matthew Rogers premières, one McCabe) and including representation of almost all the great composers with major works – we are very conscious of some of the missing, or under-represented, names! A complete repertoire list is in preparation.

 

NEXT SEASON

 

Craig Ogden Atrium Quartet of St Petersburg Mark Bebbington

 

LOOKING FORWARD

Our next season, 2008/09, has one fewer event than the last few, four concerts plus an “At Home”. This is entirely because of the pressures of time on the Committee involved in organising the concerts – we simply cannot do any more! The subscription has been adjusted accordingly – this is probably a good moment to point out that we have managed to keep ticket prices level, despite the recession. And we have some outstanding concerts in prospect.

 

Readers of International Record Review will have seen their June issue, with a front cover picture of the brilliant young pianist Mark Bebbington. He gives our first concert, on 10 th October, and his programme is a true survey of some great virtuoso repertoire. Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata is one of the highlights of the repertoire, and César Franck’s Prelude, Chorale and Fugue is another – they make a wonderful first half to a programme which also includes Debussy Preludes and three operatic paraphrases. This kind of work was a standby in the 19 th century, Liszt being pre-eminent in turning themes from well-known (and sometimes not so familiar) operas into scintillating and often moving piano showpieces – his reinterpretation for the keyboard of the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, and his Paraphrase on themes from Verdi’s Rigoletto have become wonderful calling-cards for pianists. More recently, John Joubert, whose delightful Duettino was written specially for our John Turner/Craig Ogden concert in February 2006, used themes from his own opera Jane Eyre to create a similar kind of piece, in his case a warm and romantic Fantasy. Mark Bebbington has recorded it on a Somm CD of music by Joubert – one of many highly successful recordings he has released in recent times.

 

Last year we had a wonderful concert from the Cory Brass Band, from South Wales. This time we have a different brass kettle, the superb Brass Quintet of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (we never thought we’d be able to bring the LPO to Sittingbourne!), in a programme which highlights the brilliance and musicianship of some of this great orchestra’s superb brass section. Among the composers are King Henry VIII, in an arrangement by Elgar Howarth of some his splendid tunes (he was a genuine composer), Malcolm Arnold, represented by his typically entertaining Brass Quintet No 1, and Joseph Horovitz, a composer of vast experience probably known to most people by his signature tunes for TV series such as Rumpole. His Music-Hall Suite is a skilful, delightful pastiche of Victorian tunes, but still unmistably Horovitzian. We are hoping some educational work will also take place in the afternoon. The concert is on 14 th November.

 

No Music Society season is complete without chamber music for string ensemble, and we’ve been fortunate to engage the Atrium String Quartet of St. Petersburg, who bring with them our first major work by Tchaikovsky (his deeply expressive and moving 3 rd Quartet in E flat minor) as well as one of Mozart’s finest, his last Quartet in F, K590, and Walton’s A minor Quartet from 1947, ranging from true romanticism to jazzy, punchy rhythmic writing. This is a stunning programme, from an ensemble who have established themselves quickly as one of the world’s leading groups, from their start in St Petersburg in 2000, through winning the first prize in the London International String Quartet Competition in 2003 (when they also won the Audience Prize), to their current international, and very busy, schedule of concerts and recordings. This event, on 13 th March 2009, will be keenly anticipated.

 

Finally, Craig Ogden, the celebrated guitarist who shared the programme with John Turner mentioned earlier, returns to us to perform a varied and attractive programme including some popular shorter pieces (including some of those Spanish solos so beautifully written for guitar) as well as works like Britten’s Nocturnal on a theme by John Dowland (a kind of journey back in time from Britten’s own style towards the Dowland original, reversing the usual variation form) and music by Dowland himself. Craig is an outstandingly popular and established soloist both in the classical world and the genres of jazz and crossover music, and this concert on 5 th June 2009 will be a lovely summer evening recital – let’s hope the weather suits the music!

 

In the middle of the season, we have our “At Home”. It has long been a wish of our Chairman, as well as the rest of the Committee, that we should encourage younger musicians from the area, and we have been able to do so in a small way from time to time. Some members have also expressed the wish to have a Social evening of some kind, so we have combined these elements into the event on 13 th February 2009, when we will have music provided by some local young artists, including what will be an all-too short but delightful celebration of the Haydn anniversary, as well as some of Pauline Panton’s famous readings and some refreshments. It will be an opportunity for us to meet one another in a less formal setting than a straightforward concert, and we hope to have more time to chat with one another. Do support us – if successful, we would hope to repeat this venture in future seasons.

 

MEMBERSHIP Our Membership increased slightly last season, to 56. We are also averaging about 50 sales per concert from non-members, which is a promising situation but not one that enables us to plan for very far ahead. This average does not take account of those “blockbuster” concerts where we have, because of the stature of the artists, been able to attract audiences of up to 400 and more (Julian Lloyd Webber, the King’s Singers, and others). Members, of course, have the knowledge that they are guaranteed a seat – they have priority. In this area we cannot expect to attract a membership of the size of some Societies which have been established for a long time, and which exist in areas of considerable cultural activity, but the contrast with, say, Malvern Concert Club, established over 100 years ago by Sir Edward Elgar and who now have a membership of 800, suggests that we could do better. We will find it difficult to wait 100 years to enjoy the benefits of anything like such a thriving membership!

However, I must take the opportunity of thanking all those who already help us so much in various ways during the year. The Chairman has already paid tribute to Sittingbourne Community College for their ever-helpful support, as well as those who help with the concert box office including Swade Music, Roman Square, Sittingbourne. Tickets are available there one month before each concert, and of course by post beforehand (please note: no personal cheques – see brochure) and at the concerts themselves. From a funding point of view, we have been fortunate in obtaining financial assistance from the Lord Ashdown Charitable Trust, and, in support of Maraca2’s highly successful schools performances, from the Esmée Fairbairn Charitable Trust.

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