CELEBRATION AND SADNESS ON 12TH NIGHT
Glad tidings were tinged with sadness for Maidstone Choral Union at its annual Twelfth Night Celebration.
The choir dedicated their singing at the concert in Maidstone’s United Reformed Church on Saturday 6th January to two long-serving members who had died over Christmas and the New Year.
They were Linda Anderson, the choir secretary for 10 years and secretary of Maidstone Area Arts Partnership, and Gill Booth, a choir member since 2000 who had been the soprano rep.
The choir sang a varied programme of seasonal music to mark the stargazers’ journey to Bethlehem, and the packed audience joined in heartily with six of the carols.
The concert was conducted by Martin Hindmarsh, the choir’s music director, and they were accompanied on the organ by Claire Innes-Hopkins, Assistant Director of Music at Rochester Cathedral, who also performed a solo piece.
Haydn’s Creation is the choir’s next concert, to be performed on Saturday 17 March at All Saints Church, Maidstone, starting at 7.30pm.
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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