Copies of the Agenda and the accounts for the year will be available at the meeting. You are warmly invited to attend for the formal meeting and for the general discussion that normally ensue after the meeting.
Whitstable Music Society Chairman’s Report to Members June 2019
I am pleased to report that 2019, our forty fourth season, was an excellent season of concerts. The feedback we received from the audiences was very positive indicating that the mix of ensembles and musical genres appeals to our core audience. The quality of each concert was superb but possible highlights of the season would have to include The Heath Quartet, The Fujita Piano Trio, the saxophonist Huw Wiggin and the Gould Piano Trio with the clarinettist Robert Plane.
Our financial statement for the year will be available at the AGM on Sat 8 th June and I’m pleased to report that our finances remain very satisfactory. In view of our healthy balances we decided to budget for a modest deficit on the year so that we could maintain the very high standards which our members and regular concert goers have come to expect from Whitstable Music Society. This has been largely possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors without which we would we would not be able to maintain our ticket prices at such a reasonable level.
The committee are always keen to keep the cost of a season ticket as low as possible, consistent with maintaining our high standards. With this in mind, for our 2019/20 season, we have decided to set the cost of the season tickets at £75 (£70 in 2018/19) which is still less than £11 per concert. The cost of a Single Ticket for individual concerts is to be maintained at £16 which continues to represent excellent value.
Our sponsors play a major part in maintaining our finances and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking them for their generous support. I am delighted to report that Gill Smyth and Margaret Crawley have once again done a really superb job in maintaining excellent relations with our sponsors. Without their efforts we would have to raise the ticket prices quite substantially. We owe them our thanks for all the hard work they put into this. I congratulate them on behalf of the society for their excellent work. The extent of their efforts will be apparent when we present the accounts at the AGM.
Last year we launched our new website thanks to the hard work and expertise of Neil Anthony, a Society Member. The new website is a great improvement on the previous one and enables us to provide more information than was previously possible including photographs, videos and audio recordings of our musicians. This coming year we are going to concentrate on identifying specific ways in which to use our improved website and other media such as Facebook, Twitter and the local press, to try and increase the sale of both season tickets and single tickets on the door. Existing members and concert goers also have an important role to play in the success of the society. Experience over many years has shown that personal recommendation is the most effective way of promoting the society, so we hope that our current members and regular concert goers will play their part in the campaign to increase audience numbers.
On behalf of all our members I would like to thank all the committee members for their hard work throughout the year. Also those who kindly helped to set up the performance space and to reinstate the room after our concerts. This is an enjoyable activity and many hands make light work. There are many ways in which you can help the society so if you would like to help in any way please mention this to one of the committee members who are always on hand at our concerts. We are very grateful too for the many donors who help us in various ways. A list of donors is published in our new season’s brochure. Our thanks also to the many volunteers who help with the teas and coffees during the interval and the washing up after the concerts. Finally our thanks to our page turner Lorraine Spiro and to Kim Hogarth who produced our excellent programme notes last season.
John Walker. Chairman.
Robert Plane (Clarinet) with the Gould Piano Trio
Our concert next Saturday is the final concert in this current series and we are delighted to welcome the Gould Piano Trio together with the clarinetist Robert Plane.
The Gould Piano Trio - Lucy Gould (Violin), Richard Lester (Cello), Ben Frith (Piano) directly compared to the great Beaux Arts Trio for their “musical fire” and “dedication to the genre” in the Washington Post, have remained at the forefront of the international chamber music scene for a quarter of a Century. The Gould has made extensive tours of N. America, the Far East and New Zealand, and has performed throughout Europe. In addition they have given master classes at the Britten Pears Young Artist Programme, Dartington, RWCMD and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where they enjoy discussing interpretation with the most promising young ensembles of our day.
Robert Plane’s hugely varied career has seen concerto appearances in Europe, Asia and the USA, with performances of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto in Madrid with the City of London Sinfonia, Beijing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in the USA with the Virginia Symphony. He made his BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011 with Simon Holt’s double concerto ‘Centauromachy’. Exploring a wide range of repertoire and commissioning new works, highlights of past seasons have included Piers Hellawell’s Agricolas with the Ulster Orchestra and RTE Symphony Orchestra, Finzi with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra, Christian Jost with the Dortmunder Philharmoniker and Stanford with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Their programme includes the Trio for Clarinet, Piano and cello by Louise Ferrence together with works by Theodore Kirchner, a new work by the Welsh composer Huw Watkin and the Brahms Piano Trio Op.8 in B major. A terrific programme so do join us on Saturday at 7.30 pm at our usual venue.
We heard late on Wednesday that The Korros Ensemble are unable to give their recital on Saturday.
Despite the very short notice I am delighted to let you know that we have arranged a recital by Huw Wiggin (Saxophone) and John Lenehan (Piano).
Details of the concert together with the programme are below which we hope you agree is very appealing. We have been thinking for some time that we ought to have a saxophonist so although we are sorry about the sudden change we are confident that Huw Wiggin and John Lenehan will give us a superb recital.
Commonwealth Musician of the Year, First Prize and Gold Medal winner of the 2014 Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition, Huw Wiggin is one of the most popular saxophonists of his generation.
Huw studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and the Hochschule für Musik, Cologne, before gaining a Master’s Degree with Distinction in 2012 from the Royal College of Music. He is now professor of saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music in London and has given master classes at the Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham’s School of Music, NAFA in Singapore and the Universities of Calgary and Lethbridge in Canada. He has also been on the judging panel for major competitions including the Royal Over-Seas League Annual Music Competition.
With more than 70 albums to his credit, reflecting an enormous variety of genres and styles, John Lenehan ranks as one of the most versatile pianists on the classical scene today. Praised by the New York Times for his “great flair and virtuosity” and the (London) Times for “a masterly recital”, Lenehan has appeared in concerts throughout the World from Abu Dhabi to Zurich and from Aberdeen to Zimbabwe.
As a soloist he has appeared with orchestras such as the London Symphony at the Barbican and the Royal Philharmonic in the Royal Albert Hall. He has also collaborated with some of the leading instrumentalists of our time and is recognised as an outstanding and versatile chamber musician.
Emmanuel Bach (Violin), Jenny Stern (Piano)
Music societies around the UK have long been able to benefit from young musicians who have been sponsored by charitable organisations dedicated to the development of artists at the outset of their performing careers. This legacy has enabled concert promoters to devise concert seasons that include such award holders, thereby easing to some degree their financial constraints.
One such organisation is the Countess on Munster Trust which for many years has funded further study and concert fees for young artists.
Whitstable Music Society was able to take advantage of this scheme for their last concert when it hosted the exciting young violinist Emmanuel Bach. He is a graduate from Oxford and The Royal College of Music and is rapidly showing himself to be a bright hope amongst British string players.
His talent, depth of musical perception and knowledge were well in evidence across a wide repertoire. Thus, in Bach’s exposed and challenging unaccompanied Sonata in A minor, BWV 1003, the textural clarity and sense of phrase structure revealed a mind fully aware of early music performing practice. The affecting delicacy of the slow movements were off set by the energy and rhythmic direction of the long fugue and final Allegro movements.
All the wide contrasts of mood and colour in Beethoven’s G major Sonata were clearly pointed. Here, Mr. Bach was more than ably accompanied by Jenny Stern, a pianist of extensive experience at this level. This work is very much a duo of equal partners and the shared understanding of the protagonists was palpable to all.
After the interval the audience was introduced to the Sonata No. 3 by an unknown composer from Russia named Lera Auerbach. This one movement piece had a variety of moods which were expertly dispatched with an obvious sense of involvement.
The more demanding Sonata (1917) by Claude Debussy, in which the composer makes conscious use of the great heritage of French compositions from the 17th and 18th centuries, received a colourful and cogent reading with, once again, a high level of ensemble and shared musical understand from both performers.
A delightful evening closed with Ysaye’s Caprice on a piano etude by Saint-Saens. The Belgian composer Ysaye was one of the foremost violin virtuosos of his time and his violin works, in particular his six unaccompanied sonatas are regarded as the ideal response to those by J.S. Bach. The delightful Caprice focusses on unbridled violin virtuosity and fun, the combination of which Emmanuel Bach cleared revelled, bringing a delightful evening to a rousing conclusion.
Emmanuel Bach (Violin), Jenny Stern (Piano)
J.S. Bach: Solo Sonata No. 2 in A minor BWV 1003 (1720)
The unaccompanied opening piece was the perfect introductory showcase for the soloist’s technical mastery. From the large leaps in register obvious in the first bars to the lyrical simplicity of the third movement, we were reminded of Bach’s unique music: full of challenges and creative possibilities, so well captured in tonight’s rendition of the sonata.
Beethoven: Sonata No.8 in G. Op.30 No.3 (1802)
The well-versed dialogue violin-piano is evident throughout the piece, from the Allegro assai in 6/8 time to the light-hearted Allegro vivace finale. The musicians captured the tempestuous or the more delicate passages with suitably balanced aplomb.
Lera Auerbach: Sonata No.3 (2006)
The mournful introductory notes by piano are soon followed by delicate sounds and elegiac violin tones. A mixture of contemporary sound and familiar reverberations, the soaring harmonics skillfully captured the mystery of a less known piece.
Debussy: Sonata in G minor
Premiered a year before Debussy’s death (with the composer himself on the piano), the intricate and subtle mixture of moods and emotions that exude from the entire piece have expressed the intended melancholic theme.
Ysaÿe: Caprice, d'après L'Étude en Forme de Valse, Op.52, No.6 Saint- Saëns (1901)
Extravagant and mischievous, the piece was often played by the composer himself. This evening’s duo showcased convincingly Ysaÿe’s masterful arrangement in a lively and subtle performance.
Overall, Emmanuel Bach and Jenny Stern delighted the receptive audience with a rich and diverse repertoire spanning three centuries.