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.
OOH LA LA! CHOIR’S FRENCH TWINNING SUCCESS
Maidstone Choral Union has just returned from its latest concert trip abroad which proved a resounding success in the county town’s French twin town.
The choir was given a standing ovation by their enthusiastic French audience and in return they gave an impromptu encore at the end of the concert in Beauvais, near Paris.
Their voices blended effectively, echoing around the gothic choir area of Beauvais’ 13th century St Peter’s Cathedral, which is the highest vaulted cathedral in Europe at 48 metres.
Led by Marion Weller, the concert programme included works by mainly English composers including Elgar, Malcom Archer, John Stainer and Howard Goodall, as well as Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus. The encore was With a Voice of Singing, by Martin Shaw.
The choir also joined forces with their French musical counterparts for a combined performance of John Lennon’s hit song Imagine.
Afterwards, Cllr David Pickett, the President of Maidstone Choral Union, who sang with the choir, said: “The choir was warmly applauded for the high quality of their singing. It was a testament to the time and effort that everyone put in. I very much hope that this visit will pave the way for further cultural exchanges between the twin towns.”
During recent years, the choir founded in 1902 has revived its annual trips abroad with visits to Germany, Holland and France. On this occasion, they also visited the historic French chateau at Chantilly, and the home and garden of French artist Claude Monet.
Maidstone’s twinning link with Beauvais goes back 56 years. The strong link between the Maidstone and Beauvais Twinning Associations helped facilitate the tour and this added significantly to the excellent hospitality and welcome that the choir received, Cllr Pickett added.
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