Cream Teas and Millbrook Trio

June 14, 2015

Glorious warm sunshine welcomed many people to Stony Stratford on Sunday 7th June – several events took place that day (the Classic Car rally in Market Square, the Big lunch with the Dakota flypast) and we timed Cream Teas and concert to coincide with both to pick up those who had attended either event and wanted some more refreshment as they made they way around the cars and watched the flypast.

Cream Teas in the sunshine

Cream Teas in the sunshine

As the weather was so good we had tables and chairs on the church lawn alongside the parish hall and a steady steam of people throughout the afternoon were served by Fiona, Nina, Anna, Margaret, Dai, Lesley, Sue and Dave, while the Millbrook ensemble tested the acoustic during their rehearsal in the church before they joined everyone in the hall for Cream Teas.

Three of the four members of the Millbrook Ensemble played for us: Charlotte Brennand on Piano, Louise Fuller on Violin and Rosalind Gladstone on Cello.

Louise, Charlotte and Rosalind

Louise, Charlotte and Rosalind

The concert at 4:30 pm was a lovely highlight of the weekend and a great way to finish the afternoon, the programme was:

  • Mozart Divertimento – Piano Trio in Bb K254 (Charlotte, Louise and Rosalind)
  • Franck Sonata for Violin and Piano in A (Louise and Charlotte)
  • Mendelssohn Piano Trio in D minor Op. 49 (Charlotte, Louise and Rosalind)

David was page turner for Louise (after doing this the previous evening at the Polymnia concert for Anna Le Hair).  Afterwards Louise sent us the following comment:

“Thank you for your brilliant organisation. The church was an excellent venue – a lovely place to play.”

We raised a total of £489.30 from this combined event for the organ casework.  Thank you to everyone who baked the multitude of scones, helped set up, serve refreshments and tidied up afterwards and a big special thank you to Louise, Charlotte and Rosalind for their wonderful music, which was the second event at the church as part of the annual StonyLive festival.

You can see photos of the Cream Teas and concert at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157654503458546

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Spring time Tea Dance

April 20, 2015
All paired up

All paired up

For several weeks SMSG Church band have prepared for the Tea Dance which took place on Sunday 19th April in the school hall.  All the tables around the dance floor were filled with keen dancers waiting for the music to begin and we struck up the band shortly after 3:00 pm with a programme of dances set to some of our favourite pieces of music.  There was an interval with delicious home baked savoury and sweet refreshments, the very popular raffle and more dances.

We raised a magnificent £294 for the organ fund from this event – special thanks to Lesley for organising it and for all the food, to everyone who helped serve refreshments, to the band for playing and everyone who came to enjoy themselves, it was a fun afternoon.

Dancing around the hall

Dancing around the hall

The band plays

The band plays

Rock around the Clock

Rock around the Clock

A crowded dance floor

A crowded dance floor

Anniversary Waltz

Anniversary Waltz

Anniversary Waltz

Anniversary Waltz


Organ restoration progress

April 10, 2015

In January and February the organ chambers were painted while they were devoid of most of the organ actions and pipes and while the organ builders were restoring the Willis in their workshop.

Painting the arches and chambers

Painting the arches and chambers

Painting the South chamber

Painting the South chamber

Painting the North chamber

Painting the North chamber

Painted arches and chambers

Painted arches and chambers

In the middle of March 2015 FH Browne & Sons started to bring the large parts of the Willis organ which had been restored in their workshop back to the church. They had to make some changes to the building frame on which the soundboards are mounted as the organ will be accommodating four new ranks of pipes. This also meant that the Swell box (in the south chamber) had to be enlarged for the 16ft Waldhorn and the Choir swell box (in the north chamber) had to be moved back 7 inches closer to the back wall (and the Violone pipes) and enlarged to include the Piccolo, Tierce and Nazard pipes which were prepared for in 1932 (when the organ was in Edinburgh) but not installed. The Great has also been moved forward to make more space for a wider passage board between the Choir and Great as the previous space between the two was very narrow and the trumpet pipes were in danger of damage during tuning visits.

Great and Choir soundboards installed (by Palm Sunday)

Great and Choir soundboards installed (by Palm Sunday)

The Swell box installed (by Easter day)

The Swell box installed (by Easter day)

The organ builders have made great progress in the past 3 weeks.  The Swell box is now in place, re-painted (and looking very smart), the lower arch in the wall has been shaped alongside it to make a wider space to get to the pedal pipes beside and behind the Swell box (it was always a tight squeeze and bringing the Swell box forward and enlarging the back meant that the gap was even tighter, hence the wall adjustment – fortunately plasterboard not stone).

All the large re-leathered bellows (reservoirs) are now back in place too underneath the soundboards, only one small one still needs to be fixed in place.  It will be a few weeks before the pipes go in as trunking from bellows to soundboards need to be refitted and the structural parts of the casework assembled as well as all the wiring reconnected from the console to the soundboards and stop action (which operates the individual ranks of pipes).  The soundboards are the large chests containing the action which relays the wind to the correct pipes when keys are pressed on the console.

This morning I took some photos of the work in progress. The two organ builders present were a little camera shy so I photographed the organ only rather than the organ builders hard at work.

The enlarged Swell box

The enlarged Swell box

Pipes alongside the Swell box

Better access to the pipes alongside and behind the Swell box

hole in back of Swell box for accessing Waldhorn pipe resonators for regulation

hole in back of Swell box for accessing Waldhorn pipe resonators for regulation

Pedal pipes behind and bellows under Swell box

Pedal pipes behind and bellows under the Swell box

Bellows under the Swell soundboard

Bellows under the Swell soundboard

Bellows for the Choir and Great

Bellows for the Choir and Great

The Choir box being reassembled

The Choir box being reassembled

Pallets and springs inside the Great soundboard

Pallets and springs inside the Great soundboard

Great soundboard in the foreground, Choir soundboard and Violone pipes behind

Great soundboard in the foreground, Choir soundboard, box and Violone pipes behind

Bellows and Violone chest under the Choir and Great

Bellows and Violone chest under the Choir and Great

North gallery filled with pipes and actions

North gallery filled with pipes and actions

It is wonderful seeing the organ restoration part of the 3 year Heritage Lottery funded project come to fruition as the reassembly work progresses.  In the months since July 2014 there has been no musical sound from the Willis (the borrowed electronic organ is no match for the real sound of pipes) and we are looking forward to hearing it in play again.

As the research part of the project has revealed, dedicated fundraising to maintain the organ has happened in the past (notably in the 1980s when the console was moved by Henry Willis IV from the North gallery to the ‘Choir’ gallery between the two organ chambers).  Our recent fundraising efforts to restore the organ entirely started in 2006, with the Heritage Lottery project of restoration, research, education and music programme starting in 2014.

Photos and report by Anna Page


MK Music Co-operative first anniversary concert

March 29, 2015
Quintessential Brass open the concert

Quintessential Brass open the concert

Last year we were delighted to host the MK Music Co-operative’s launch concert at SMSG church and were very pleased when they donated a substantial part of what they raised to the organ fund. They clearly like the acoustic of our lovely church as they booked their first anniversary concert for 21 March 2015, which turned out to be another wonderful evening of music making by some of the Music co-operative teachers and a few of their pupils. These concerts are primarily a way of giving the teachers an opportunity to perform as all their other concerts are pupil concerts, however they invited some of their higher grade pupils to provide some of the music too.

The programme:

Quintessential Brass (Mark Green, Anna Hailes, Kate Knight, Cathi Smith, Malcolm Nevin)

  • La Mourisque – Susato arr Iveson
  • Sweet Dreams – Francis Clifford

Jenny Newman and Andy Glass (Violin and Guitar)

  • A selection of traditional fiddle (and guitar) tunes

Anna Gash and Michael Keep (Cello and Piano)

  • Cello sonata No 1 in E minor Op 38 (1st Movt) – Brahms

Dominic Hindley (pupil) (Clarinet)

  • Clarinet Concerto, 3rd Movt – Mozart

Emily Knell (pupil) (Piano)

  • Nocturne in E minor, Op 72 No 1 – Chopin

Alexandra Nash (Violin)

  • Theme from Ladies in Lavender – Nigel Hess

Frankie Hindley (pupil) (Flute)

  • La Calinda – Delius

Green and Glass (Vocal and Guitar)

  • How Sweet it is
  • Dancing in the Streets

Interval

Alexandra Stacey (and friends – Vocal, Cello, Keyboard)

  • Why soe pall and wan, fond lover – Lawes
  • Fairest Isle from his opera King Arthur – Purcell
  • Bois Epais from the opera Amadis – Lully

Conway Moore (Guitar)

  • Variations on a Theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute, by Fernando Sor (Guitar)

Clare Morris-Keep (vocal)

  • Quanta Qualia – Patrick Hawes
  • Laudate Dominum – Mozart

Madeleine Hamilton (Pupil) (Cello)

  • Adagio, Cello Concerto no 1 in C major – Haydn

Julian Pentz (and friend) (violin and guitar)

  • Bulgarian Drinking song – arranged by Togmor
  • Gamlingay – Togmor

Michael Keep (piano)

  • Prelude and Fugue in A major, Book 2 – Bach

Gemma Shirley (vocal)

  • Porgi, Amor from The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart
  • Fair Robin I love from Tartuffe – Kirke Mechem

Quintessential Brass

  • Galliard Battaglia – Scheidt arr Jones
  • I love Paris – Porter arr Hailes

This was definitely an evening of variety and outstanding quality of performance. About 90 people attended and MK Music Co-operative was able to donate £150 to the Willis organ fund. Several of the teachers said to me afterwards that they look forward to next year’s concert when they hope to include the restored Willis organ in the concert programme.

More photos can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157649308571553/


January 2015 Third Thursday Concert

January 15, 2015

The fifth concert in this series featured James Jarvis, cellist, and Helen Rouse, pianist, a long term musical partnership which we were privileged to experience.

The overriding theme was of contrast, both in the instruments’ qualities and within the pieces chosen. Willem de Fesch’s Sonata in D minor opened the concert and the flowing melodies from piano and cello afforded the audience an opportunity to appreciate their distinctive sounds. The tempo quickened with the third movement, followed by Beethoven’s Andante and Variations in C major during which there was a wide range of contrasts – reflection and energy, tranquility and excitement, simplicity and elaboration. The audience – varied in age as well as musical talent! – became more and more engrossed. Mendelssohn’s ‘Song without words’, his last work for cello, has been quoted as ‘perfect and memorable’, an apt description as we experienced the performers create such intensity of feeling. Bach’s Suite No.1 in G followed and, again, the versatility of the piano and cello was apparent.

Three Russian pieces were next, ranging from the emotive and charged Rachmaninov ‘Vocalise’ to Skryabin’s passionate and bold musical patterns in ‘Romance’. But it was the brave and surprising ‘Allegro’ from Shostakovich that made us all sit up – what a thrilling conclusion to the Russian interlude and how inspiring for the St Mary and St Giles School pupils who listened intently.

Personal favourite, Thomas Pitfield, concluded the concert, with James and Helen playing his Sonatina, reminding us of the majesty, lightness and liveliness of these instruments. This was a great New Year start to the third Thursday concerts combining enrichment, expertise and energy for the appreciative audience. As always, it is Lesley Salter’s enthusiasm that ensures music of all kinds is enjoyed, and it’s the tea ladies who add that vital refreshment – many thanks!

by Andrea Hearne, photos by Richard Hearne

This Music for all @ SMSG concert raised £55.33 for the Willis organ fund.

Helen Rouse

Helen Rouse

James Jarvis

James Jarvis

The appreciative audience

The appreciative audience

Helen and James

Helen and James


Music for all at SMSG Advent 2014 – part 3

December 20, 2014

‘Anticipating Christmas’ by SMSG band and SMSG church handbell ringers has become an annual concert in the church school. It is always informal, relaxed and fun and this year was no exception. Our programme was an exact repeat of the concert we had given in the United Reformed Church in Pottersbury the previous Saturday (when MK Acapella was performing in SMSG).

The audience at the ‘anticipating Christmas’ concert sit in friendly groups around tables in the hall and the band members always decorate our music stands with tinsel, wear Christmas themed hats and for one particular piece red noses, except those of us who can’t see our music beyond the noses! This year I presented the band with a toy Rudolf (with flashing nose) to mark 50 years since the story of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer was turned into an animated stop-motion Christmas special which has become a classic. There was quite a snow filled theme to the music programme (maybe to ward off snow in England?).

Festive David and his clarinet

Festive David and his clarinet

SMSG band decorated for Christmas

SMSG band decorated for Christmas

SMSG band decorated for Christmas

SMSG band decorated for Christmas

Anna playing chimebars

Anna playing chime bars

Jude and Steve with festive headgear

Jude and Steve with festive headgear

Ellie the red nosed violinist

Ellie the red nosed violinist

Chimebars for Rudolf the rednosed Reindeer

Chime bars for Rudolf the red nosed Reindeer

Our programme:

SMSG band

  • It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
  • Santa Claus is coming to town
  • The Snowman – Walking in the Air

Singers

  • Flying Free (Dave on piano and Alison on flute)

SMSG band

  • In the Bleak Midwinter (305)

SMSG Handbells

  • Deck the Hall
  • A Starry Night
  • Jingle Bells

SMSG band

  • Sleigh Ride
  • Rudolph, the red nosed reindeer

INTERVAL

SMSG band

  • Schneewalzer
  • Mistletoe and wine
  • Mary’s Boy Child

SMSG Handbells

  • Away in a manger
  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • Silent Night

SMSG band

  • Have yourself a Merry little Christmas
  • Little Town of Bethlehem
  • Merry Christmas Shuffle

The concert was free (with free refreshments), the raffle raised £55.50 for the organ fund. Thank you Lesley for organizing it, all those who helped serve refreshments and run the raffle and to SMSG church school for the use of the hall.


Music for all at SMSG Advent 2014 – part 2

December 18, 2014

Saturday 13th December was a bumper day of music making at SMSG because we held two events in one day. During the morning Dave King lead the Christmas themed Sing-along-a-lorra-songs in the Parish Hall for everyone who came to the Musical Bite Coffee morning, it raised £103 for the organ fund and was great fun – see the photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157649410346477/. While this was happening we were setting up for the afternoon concert in the church.

Dave leads the music at the Musical Bite

Dave leads the music at the Musical Bite

Milton Keynes Youth choir and MK Music Service Proteus Strings both had final rehearsals in the church before the 3:00 pm start so we had a taste of the delights to come as we did final front of house preparations. What a wonderful concert the choir and junior string group provided.

MK Youth Choir conducted by Craig McLeish

MK Youth Choir conducted by Craig McLeish

The MKYC Concert programme:

MKYC

  • Torches (John Joubert)
  • Ave Maria (Saint-Saens)

MK Youth Chorale (the older singers)

  • A Child is born (Peter Moorse)
  • Shepherds Farewell (Berlioz, arr Basil Ramsey)

Eleanor Page (violin solo)

  • Hungarian Dance Op. 196 No. 5 (August Nolck)

MKYC

  • What’s going On (Richard Bissill, arr Craig McLeish), soloists Rosie and Megan
  • Away in a Manger (H Chappell) – MKYC Juniors

Iona Griffiths (vocal solo)

  • The Virgin’s Slumber Song (Maria Wiegenlied)

MKYC

  • Angels we have heard (Trad, arr Craig McLeish)

MKYC with Proteus Strings and audience

  • The First Nowell (Trad English)

Interval

MKYC

  • Whence is that Goodly Fragrance Flowing? (Trad French, arr A E Baker), soloist Eleanor Page
  • The Holly and the Ivy (J Gardner)

Proteus Strings

  • Air (T Arne)
  • Hidden Carols (A Hewitt-Jones)

Kaylea Holbrook Knight (vocal solo)

  • Don’t Cry for Me Argentina (Lloyd Webber)

MK Youth Chorale

  • Pie Jesu (Lloyd Webber), soloist Sophie Elliott

Katie Cottrell (vocal solo)

  • He shall feed his flock (from Handel’s Messiah)

MKYC

  • Breath of Heaven (Chris Eaton)
  • Tomorrow shall be my dancing day (Trad, arr A Carter)

MKYC with Proteus Strings and audience

  • Silent Night, Holy Night (F Gruber)

The choir made great use of the glorious acoustic of SMSG church with this super choice of music. We lit the Advent candles on the wreath for the second half of the concert as the light faded outside which added to the atmosphere.

The concert was very well attended (at least 150 people in the audience, with 20 young singers, 15 young string players, 2 conductors and the pianist). The refreshments raised £162.55 for the organ fund (the choir raised £1,061 for their funds from tickets, raffle and jewellery sales). The parents and children were delighted with the success of this concert and how well the music was received as the choir is looking for new members and every penny they raise helps to keep this award winning youth choir running. We hope that MKYC will return to SMSG when the organ is restored, so they can sing with the Willis Pipe Organ in a future concert.

You can see photos of this concert at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157649416640338/

I would like to thank everyone who helped make these two events so enjoyable and successful, including all those who baked cakes, helped front of house and cleared away afterwards.