MCC Schools Concert October 2018
As part of our work within the community, Malvern Concert Club arranged for an afternoon performance in the Forum Theatre by Classic Rhythm on October 25th, attended by nearly 200 Y5 and Y6 pupils from local primary schools. With a delightful combination of humour, storytelling and musical accompaniment (which had been composed by Classic Rhythm member Adrian Sutcliffe), the pupils were treated to an array of both familiar and unusual instruments and sounds, which accompanied a reading of the tale about a hapless Prince and his four strange, but supportive, servants. A majority of the pupils attending were familiar with and/or are learning to play the piano, flute or recorder, all of which featuring in the afternoon’s performance, but the array of instruments being used by the percussionist Chris Brannick was a new and engaging experience for many of us. Everyone was impressed by the energy and enthusiasm which all members of the ensemble brought to their performance, with Stefan Scot’s narration of the tale bringing an added and animated dimension to the occasion. There was no doubt that the chatter and smiles on the faces of both staff and pupils, as they left at the end of the performance, reflected everyone’s enjoyment of the afternoon’s activity. Our thanks go to all members of the ensemble, the fourth member being Helen O’Connell with whom some of you may be familiar, as she is a long-standing teacher of the flute at Malvern College.
Future membership of the Concert Club and attendance at our events will, to some extent, be built upon positive musical experiences such as those provided by Classic Rhythm for this afternoon, especially when the opportunity to hear live music-making is increasingly problematic in both secondary and primary schools.
Thank you to everyone who brought about this event.
Danny Driver and Dorothy Howell
One of the most gratifying experiences to witness at our concerts is when audience members come from a distance to meet our musicians they have known in the past. Last month, an old colleague of Danny Driver came all the way from Sheffield (by train for the day) to hear him and two other people came from Bewdley – they had heard Danny play at the age of seven, when they realised that he had the hands to play Rachmaninov! They were sister and brother, Merryn and Columb Howell, niece and nephew of Dorothy Howell, and custodians of the Dorothy Howell Trust.
On our website archive and in our Newsletter of September 2010, we published an article about Dorothy Howell (1898-1982), who had been remembered in two national events that month. These were a performance of her orchestral composition, Lamia (1918) at the BBC Proms and an exhibition and live performances of her music at Birmingham Central Library. Born in Birmingham, Dorothy Howell spent her last 34 years in Malvern Wells, continuing to compose and perform with distinction. Her one and only recital for the Club was on 17 March 1951. She tended the grave of Sir Edward Elgar in St Wulstan’s churchyard for several years, and is herself buried near Elgar.
Danny Driver and the conductor Rebecca Miller had previously met Merryn and Columb Howell in preparation for their recording with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra of Dorothy Howell’s Piano Concerto (1923), included on a 2017 Hyperion CD of works by women composers. This is available from Hyperion Records (ref CDA68130) where you can link to Danny’s other recordings, which regrettably he was unable to bring to Malvern last month.
A final drop of serendipity: in 115 years MCC has presented only six recitals featuring the works of Nikolai Medtner. One of these was by Dorothy Howell and one by Danny Driver.
Ernie Kay MBE 1 April 1931 – 4 January 2019
With the death of Ernie Kay, Malvern Concert Club has lost one of its most loyal supporters, one who has devoted time and provided financial support over many years. Ernie moved to Malvern in 1996, and he and his second wife Margaret quickly involved themselves in the local arts scene: at the Concert Club, of course, but also in the Elgar Society, Elgar’s Birthplace at Broadheath and Malvern Theatres.
He was elected to the Club’s committee in 1998, and his enthusiasm was such that he was appointed Assistant Secretary to Catherine Freeman some two years after that; it was the first time such an appointment had been made, but Ernie quickly demonstrated his value by taking a key role in the development of an effective publicity machine, and helping to forge strong links with like-minded organisations. The unexpected death of Margaret in 2003 came as a great blow to him, but he continued to serve as Assistant Secretary (subsequently re-designated Publicity and Marketing Officer) for several more years, and following his resignation in 2011, he was made a Vice President of the Club.
In recent years Ernie provided much of the funding through his own Kay Trust, in memory of his late wives, Kathy and Margaret, for no less than three commissions by the Club: Ian Venables’ Song of the Severn (2012-13), Alec Roth’s String Quartet No.4 in the following season, and most recently Dance the Beginning of the World by Sally Beamish; it is initiatives such as these which have helped to cement the reputation of Malvern Concert Club as one of the country’s foremost concert-promoting societies. The Kay Trust also financially supported many of the smaller music clubs in the area.
Ernie’s health had been deteriorating for some time, and upon the decision to sell his house in Graham Road in 2016, he moved into Perrins House. His physical condition was such that while with the aid of friends and helpers he continued to attend Club concerts on a regular basis, these became more spasmodic, though he continued to attend when he could. Latterly, now in a wheelchair, he was a familiar figure in the front row of the hall, seemingly determined to defy the cancer from which he was suffering, and his presence at the première of the Beamish commission was particularly welcome.
The Concert Club owes Ernie Kay an enormous amount and he will be greatly missed.
Malvern Concert Club AGM – Thursday 4 July, 7pm
The Club’s 2018-19 AGM was held at 7pm on Thursday 4 July at St Edmund’s Hall, College Road, Malvern, WR14 3DF . After the business part of the meeting, there was a recital by duo Griffith Wadkin (cello) and Domonkos Csabay (piano) from The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.
- Shostakovich Cello Sonata Op.40
- Beethoven – Variations on The Magic Flute