Performers meet President!

Roderick Williams, Paul Lewis and Mark PAdmore

We were thrilled to have Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis launch their new programme of Lieder at a special recital at Malvern Concert Club on 7 January, a programme that they are only performing together after us in Bristol, London Wigmore Hall and then short tours of Europe and North America.

We were also delighted to welcome our President, Roderick Williams, in the audience, enjoying a rare night off from his own singing! The picture shows these three supreme musicians relaxing in the dressing room of Malvern Theatres after the recital.

Ian Venables: The Song of the Severn

Cover of Song of the Severn - CD by Ian Venables

The Song of the Severn’ is a song cycle for baritone, string quartet and piano, by Worcester composer Ian Venables. It was commissioned by Malvern Concert Club, thanks to the generosity of The Kay Trust, and was first performed at the Club’s concert on 2 May 2013.

Signum Records, who have recently issued this new recording (also financially supported by The Kay Trust), announces: “Venables’ reputation as ‘one of the finest song composers of his generation’ (BBC Music Magazine) finds voice in this disc of premiere recordings of two of his substantial song cycles. International baritone [and Club President!] Roderick Williams is joined by the Carducci String Quartet and pianist Graham J Lloyd in ‘The Song of the Severn’, a celebration of Venables’ home county of Worcestershire, commissioned by The Malvern Concert Club and ‘The Pine Boughs Past Music’, a poignant tribute to the poetic talents of Ivor Gurney. Other songs include those with solo piano and arrangements by Graham J Lloyd, for string quartet. Each work highlights Venables’ gift of being able to take poetry to a higher level of appreciation and at the same time create works of lasting beauty”.

You can order the CD online for £12 (plus £1.50 P&P, plus 80p P&P for every additional copy). Go to

Congratulations too to Ian Venables for featuring on the front cover of Musical Opinion, Spring 2016.

Michael Kennedy Memorial Concert

Poster for Michael Kennedy Memorial Concert

On 5 October I was privileged to attend and to represent Malvern Concert Club at the Memorial Concert for Michael Kennedy CBE, our former President (and latterly President Emeritus), who died last New Year’s Eve. This sold-out event took place at the concert hall of the Royal Northern College of Music; as Michael’s widow, Dr Joyce Kennedy made clear in her post-concert speech, holding it in Manchester, not London, emphasised Michael’s unswerving commitment to music in the North.

The concert was devised by Sir Mark Elder, conductor of The Hallé Orchestra for the past 16 years and a friend of the Kennedys; he shared the conducting with Sir Andrew Davis, who had just flown in from Chicago for the occasion. Joyce herself had personally invited the 20 soloists, who had all become friends, and who all gave their services free in support of a new fund in Michael’s memory to provide bursaries for RNCM students.

And what a line-up! Here were many of Britain’s best singers, including Susan Bickley, Susan Bullock, Alice Coote, Dame Felicity Lott, Marie McLaughlin, Joan Rodgers, Sir John Tomlinson and – to my surprise and delight – our current President, Roderick Williams. The list included singers who had won the Joyce and Michael Kennedy Strauss prize over the years, the youngest being Kathryn Rudge, who must surely have a great future: the following day I heard she had just been named as a BBC New Generation Artist. Nearly all the singers sang in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music – the programme booklet included Michael’s own programme note from 2006. Roderick sang in the famous Pearl Fishers duet and in Soave sia il vento from Così fan tutte. Elgar was represented by his Romance for Bassoon and Orchestra (a new one to me), and three of the Enigma Variations – the last being our very own ‘Troyte’. The concert came to a moving conclusion with the final trio from Der Rosenkavalier.

This concert was more than just a respectful tribute to a great musicologist. What came over in these superb performances was the great warmth, indeed love, that those involved felt towards a humane and generous man.

Peter Thomas, Secretary

President becomes Ambassador!

As well as hectic recital, concert and recording schedule, our President, Baritone Roderick Williams, has become an Ambassador for the BBC’s Ten Pieces aimed at introducing classical music to school children.

On Radio 3 Saturday Classics on 3 October he presented some of the new Ten Pieces for secondary schools and offered some personal musical links for further exploration.

Educational Outreach

Thanks to the generosity of The Elmley Foundation, the Club has embarked on an exciting outreach programme involving children from local schools.

We began with a composition workshop on 19 November 2015, led by composer Liz Johnson. Primary school instrumentalists created their own music based on works to be performed by the Cavaleri Quartet the following week.

On 26 November, the night of the concert, the children and their parents were invited to meet the members of the Quartet for a short pre-concert introduction to the music of the first half of the programme. They could then attend the actual concert. We believe that this was a stimulating experience for the new young audience, their parents and all our regular members.

Trio Martinů gave a presentation to senior schools in the afternoon of their concert on 10 March.

Harriet Farrell

Malvern Concert Club on Facebook

The Club has a Facebook page! Click on the Facebook logo here or on the Home page of this website. The Facebook page has been set up by our Committee member, Janet Hay, and shows posts of all our concerts. We hope that by entering the world of social media we can reach out to younger potential audience members.

If you have a Facebook account, do search for us under ‘Malvern Concert Club’ and, in particular, encourage your young friends and family members to ‘like’ us!

Anyone can view the page here but unless you are a Facebook member you will not be able to interact with it.

Congratulations on RPS Awards success

Roderick Williams, President of the Malvern Concert Club

Congratulations to our President, Roderick Williams, who won the Singer Award in the Royal Philharmonic Society’s annual Music Awards on 10 May 2016 ‘for a remarkably wide-ranging year of song, in particular his exemplary performances of British 20th and 21st century repertoire, including his own compositions. A consummate artist and a singer with whom composers and fellow musicians find it a joy to work’.

The Carducci String Quartet

The Carducci String Quartet, who played such an important part in our final concert of the 2015-16 season, won the RPS Chamber Music and Song Award for ‘Fifteen Shostakovich Quartets in over 60 concerts throughout the UK, including five complete cycles, – one of which was presented in four concerts in one day at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. The Carducci Quartet devoted 2015 to a heroic challenge and these were great performances of great chamber music, taken to venues that had not heard the like before’.

Congratulations to all concerned.

Annual General Meeting 2015-16

The Club’s AGM was held at St Edmund’s Hall, Malvern, on 7 July 2016, attended by about 50 people. After Officers’ report had been read and accepted, elections were held. The Chairman, Joseph Brand, retired, and was elected as a Vice President of the Club. His successor as Chairman, John Gregory, thanked Joe for his many years of service to the Club as Chairman and before that as a committee member. We are delighted that Joe will continue as a music consultant to the committee, and in particular that he will continue to write the programme notes for the concerts. He will however give up the tasks of page-turner for pianists and of running the biennial second hand CD sales – volunteers for these roles welcome!

Other officers and committee members remained unchanged, except that Janet Hay*, already co-opted, was formally elected as a committee member.

After the business of the meeting, the Club was treated to an electrifying performance by Tyler Hay*, piano. Only just graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music, among other awards Tyler won the keyboard prize at the Royal Overs-Seas League music competition 2016. For us he performed works by Haydn, Liszt and Rachmaninov.

* No relation!