Composer Centenary Talks

Centenary composers - the subject of Jospeh Brand's talk

Three major anniversaries occurred in 2013 – the bi-centenaries of the births of Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi and the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten. Unfortunately there is no example of chamber music by Wagner, and Verdi’s delightful only quartet is inexplicably neglected. Britten’s small but significant contribution is admired and two examples have featured in recent Malvern Concert Club seasons.
Nevertheless, the universal admiration and stature of these three rests on their works for the stage. So that the Club could join in the worldwide celebrations, its Chairman, Joseph Brand, gave three illustrated talks on each of these composers, held at Malvern St James on Thursday evenings14 February (Wagner),18 April (Verdi) and 10 October (Britten).

Joseph Brand, who generously donated his services, is perhaps best known to Club audiences as the author of its programme notes, which he succeeds in making simultaneously erudite, enlightening and entertaining. An Associate of the Royal College of Music and of the Guildhall School of Music, he was a school music teacher for 30 years. As piano accompanist he has performed at major London venues and at music clubs, schools and colleges throughout the country. He also worked professionally as a classical record reviewer, and writer of sleevenotes for Decca Records. Joseph attended his first opera at the age of eight (La Bohème) and has since seen around 2,000 throughout the world, including six visits to Bayreuth.

The Club is also most grateful to the Headmistress and Staff of Malvern St James whokindly provided the venue free of charge, and organising interval refreshments.

All proceeds from these talks went towards MCC funds.

(posted 09.10.12, updated 18.10.13)

CONGRATULATIONS to three generations of musicians associated with Malvern Concert Club

John McCabe, Alec Roth and Jacqueline Martens

Three notable events which have resonance for Malvern Concert Club took place over summer 2013.

25 July saw the first performance of Joybox by MCC Vice President, composer and pianist John McCabe CBE in the Royal Albert Hall. We congratulate him on this commission by the BBC for the 2013 Henry Wood Promenade Concerts. In his programme note, John wrote: ‘Joybox is a musical souvenir of a trip to Japan a few years ago. I was in Osaka listening with amazement to an “entertainment centre” full of slot machines (one-armed bandits) playing widely different musical jingles, all going on simultaneously but independently. Eventually I seemed to perceive a kind of musical structural pattern to the babel of noise, and this gave me the idea for what I hope is an “entertainment” piece. (I was certainly entertained by the noise emanating from the “entertainment centre”). Unlike those of the original, however, my patterns are constantly changing as well as coming together in different ways’ [© 2013 John McCabe]. Joybox was dedicated to the memory of Steve Martland. John’s achievement was all the greater as, not long after starting the commission, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and underwent six weeks of intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We wish him well.

In September, Gramophone’s Classical Music Awards were announced, and the winner of the Instrumental category was Steven Osborne for his Hyperion CD of Russian piano music – including Sarcasms and Visions Fugitives by Prokofiev, featured in his recital for the Club on 13 March 2014. The Gramophone review described ‘an ideal blend of fidelity to the score with a subtle and distinctive rather than overbearing musical personality… in the Visions Fugitives there is the finest possible sense of “things flying past” with a stunning reminder in the Feroce of No.14 of Osborne’s superb technique.’

Also in September, the Forum Theatre was the stage for the Chandos Symphony Orchestra’s concert featuring the winner of their Young Musician of the Year 2012, the violinist Jacqueline Martens. It was in January last year that, at the age of 16, she was presented with the award, sponsored by Malvern Concert Club and funded by The Kay Trust, by our Vice President Ernie Kay and Chairman Joseph Brand. Still now only 18, Jacqueline gave a stunning performance of Shostakovich’s challenging first violin concerto. Her playing was sublimely lyrical in the slow movements and electrifying in the fast ones. Those fortunate enough to have heard this performance will know she has a bright future.

(posted 27.09.13)

Club Visits to CBSO

More than 100 Club members and others responded to the request for indications of interest in coach trips to Symphony Hall, Birmingham, for CBSO concerts, which was very encouraging, The Club’s first coach trip got off to a great start, with 50 participants (a full coach-load) travelling to Birmingham from Malvern on 19 February for a programme which included tonight’s recitalist Steven Osborne playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 24 with the CBSO under their Principal Guest Conductor, Edward Gardner. The Orchestra followed this with a dazzling performance of Elgar’s Symphony No 1. During the interval a number of CBSO principals, including Julian Atkinson, double bass, Jo Patton, E flat clarinet, and Eduardo Vassallo, cello, came to meet our group.

The CBSO program for the 2014-15 season will be announced soon, and it is hoped to organise visits to four more Birmingham concerts.

Simon Payton

(posted 24.01.14, updated 25.03.14)

Standing Ovation for John McCabe CBE

The 2014 IVORS Award for Classical Music was presented to Malvern Concert Club Vice President John McCabe at an Ivor Novello Award ceremony at Grosvenor House, London on 22 May 2014. Despite his illness, John was able to make an acceptance speech at the ceremony, and was rewarded by a standing ovation. Many well-known names from the world of Pop were at the event, which is largely connected with that industry. Previous recipients of the Classical Award include Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir John Tavener, and Michel Nyman.

John McCabe is still busy composing, despite medical problems and treatment, and is currently finishing a short choral work for the Hallé Choir (double choir/organ), to be premiered later this year, and he is hopeful to go on to write other works also.

(posted 23.06.14)

Annual General Meeting 2013-14

Elgar Birthplace, 19 June 7.00pm

The Club’s 2013-4 AGM was held on Thursday 19 June at 7.00pm in the Carice Room at the Elgar Birthplace, Lower Broadheath, near Worcester.

The Secretary, Treasurer & Membership Secretary and Chairman gave their reports on another artistically and financially successful season. The Chairman, Joseph Brand, announced that our President, Michael Kennedy CBE had decided to step down from the role, but had graciously accepted the position of President Emeritus for life. In his place, the Club was honoured and delighted that Roderick Williams, the eminent baritone, had accepted the invitation to become its new President.

The Chairman then announced the retirement of Linda Jennings, Club Secretary, and he paid tribute to her ten years’ devoted and unstinting work on behalf of the Club, resulting in numerous superb concerts. Joseph Brand presented Linda with a set of CDs and Isobel Nicholls, committee member, presented her with a bouquet.

Elections for officers and committee for 2014-15 followed, and results are shown here.

Following the business meeting, we were fortunate that Jacqueline Martens (below right) accompanied by Hanlie Martens gave a brilliant recital, of

Jacqueline Martens 2014

Mozart Adagio in E, K.261;

Elgar Violin Sonata, Op.82;

Wieniawski Polonaise in A, Op.21.

(posted 25.03.14, updated 23.06.14)