CHOIR IN FINE VOICE FOR NEW SEASON
MUSIC AND SONGS HERALD A TIME FOR PEACE
Singers and musicians from Maidstone and across mid-Kent have sounded a heartfelt tribute to the fallen of World War I.
Maidstone Wind Symphony orchestra and Maidstone Choral Union combined for their special concert A Time for Peace at Maidstone Leisure Centre on Saturday, (10 November) to mark 100 years since Armistice Day.
The choir joined forces with singers from Maidstone’s Maplesden Noakes School, East Malling Singers, Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School and Ashford Invicta Singers to produce a 100-strong blend of voices.
Conductor Jonathan Crowhurst set the tone from the outset when he asked the audience to withhold their applause out of respect until the concert ended. This they did, to great effect.
He then introduced the moving opening piece, Let My Love Be Heard, by Jake Runestad, which he said acted as a 21st century narrative on the meaning of conflict and loss, reflecting on the 2016 terrorist atrocities in Paris.
Sir Karl Jenkins’ rousing Mass for Peace, The Armed Man, was the highlight of the evening. It was made even more poignant when the musicians put down their instruments and joined the choir singing the last movement in perfect harmony.
Renowned trumpeter Matilda Lloyd, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Brass Final in 2014, played The Last Post. She also performed Deborah Pritchard’s Seven Halts on the Somme – inspired by seven paintings.
Martin Hindmarsh, Maidstone Choral Union’s conductor, sang A.E.Houseman’s A Shropshire Lad in a new arrangement for the windband, and he gave the first performance of new versions of Bugles Sang and For the Fallen, two songs he produced with his twin brother Paul.
There were solo spots for sopranos Rosie Waddington and Iris Korfker, euphonium player Phil Neeve, and some readings of well-known World War I poems. The evening ended with Elgar’s Nimrod.
Jonathan Crowhurst, Maidstone Wind Symphony’s Musical Director, had reminded the audience in his introduction that around 16 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives in the Great War.
He said: “No epitaph will truly encompass the significance of all these sacrifices. But I hope our offering is respectful and reflects the eternal gratitude of a nation.”
It certainly did.
MAIDSTONE CHORAL UNION CLOSES 115th SEASON WITH MASTERPIECES
The Choral Union Orchestra opened with Symphony No.1 by William Boyce. The piece is a delightfully unassuming gem from the 18th Century, with lovely tunes. It was played at the recent wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Vivaldi’s joyous and tuneful Gloria brought the best from the ensemble with rousing numbers interspersed with moving theatrical moments.
Martin Hindmarsh, the choir’s Music Director and conductor, rates The Nelson Mass as one of Haydn’s finest works. Its dark and foreboding nature is leavened by glorious writing for soloists. There was wonderful singing from Kirsty Hopkins, soprano, Jennifer Westwood, mezzo-soprano, Greg Tassell, tenor and Richard Bannon, baritone.
The Choral Union and Maidstone Wind Symphony will present a WW1 centenary concert at Mote Hall on Saturday November 10th. Karl Jenkins The Armed Man will be the centre piece.
CHOIR RAISES VOICES IN PRAISE OF CREATION
How fitting that Maidstone Choral Union chose to sing The Creation for its spring concert.
Joseph Haydn’s rousing oratorio, mainly telling the biblical story in Genesis of how God made the earth, proved an uplifting choice and the choir rose to the challenge in All Saints Church on Saturday night. (17 March)
So just as we have endured our late winter storms, with its heavy snowfalls and freezing temperatures, we can now look forward to the natural wonders of creation as spring gets under way.
Martin Hindmarsh, the choir’s Music Director and conductor, explained in his programme notes that Haydn had worked on The Creation for nearly 18 months after a visit to England in 1791.
“The result must have exceeded his most cherished hopes. From its premier right up to the present day, performers and listeners have responded warmly to the life-affirming spirit that pervades this magnificent score,” Martin said.
At the concert interval, he thanked the appreciative audience for attending on one of the coldest nights of the year, adding: “The good thing about Haydn is that his music puts a smile on your face…continue with that thought in mind.”
As well as the six days of The Creation, which the choir captured with its strong melodies and hymns of praise, there was delightful singing by the soloists, Colette Boushell (soprano), Stephen Brown (tenor) and Gavin Cranmer-Moralee (baritone), accompanied by a 25-strong orchestra.
Raise the Roof, a concert in aid of the Mayor of Maidstone’s charities, will be the choir’s next concert, featuring the BAE Systems Brass Band, at All Saints Church on Sunday 13 May, starting at 6.30pm.
For ticket details, go to this page.
VOICES RAISE £9,500 FOR CARE CHARITY
Songs of love and laughter have helped to raise more than £9,500 for a charity caring for terminally ill people in mid-Kent.
Heart of Kent Hospice, which provides end of life care at family homes and at its Aylesford hospice for people in Maidstone, West Malling and Tonbridge, will benefit from the charity gala night performance of The Mikado at Maidstone Leisure Centre on Saturday. (28th October)
The audience of more than 450 people packed into Mote Hall to enjoy the popular songs and love story of Gilbert and Sullivan’s timeless comic opera set in Japan.
Maidstone Choral Union and singers from 15 other local choirs and individuals provided the 125-strong Hospice Festival Choir, together with orchestra players from all over Kent, led by Martin Hindmarsh, Maidstone Choral Union’s Music Director.
They were joined by several experienced professional singers who freely gave their services for Voices for Hospices, the world’s largest singing event, which is held every two years. The cast was assembled by the artistic director, Colin Morris, and he updated the amusing libretto when he reprised his role as KoKo, the Lord High Executioner.
James Barker-McCardle, Chairman of Heart of Kent Hospice trustees, afterwards paid tribute to the high calibre musicianship and singing which, he said, had provided a ‘magnificent’ evening’s entertainment.
He told the audience that the hospice relied on community support, and that 91p of every £1 donated was directly spent on patient care. With increasing costs and patient demands, he said: “We need to mobilise in a way that has never been achieved before.”
The Voices for Hospices event was first staged in Maidstone in 1991. Other recent productions have been HMS Pinafore (2015), Haydn’s ‘Creation’ (2013) and Handel’s Messiah (2011).
The Mikado was premiered on 14th March 1885. Its popular songs include A wand’ring minstrel, Three little maids from school and The flowers that bloom in the spring.
Rehearsals are now underway for Maidstone Choral Union’s Christmas concert at All Saints Church, Mill Street, Maidstone, on Saturday 9 December starting at 7.30pm. Carols for the choir and audience are on the programme as well as Saint Saens’ Christmas Oratorio.
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