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/

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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.


Come and sing Handel’s Messiah

November 25, 2014
James conducts 160 singing Messiah

James conducts 160 singing Messiah

How long does it take to organise 160 singers (from umpteen choirs across the country and beyond): registering, giving out scores, settling them in four or five parts ready to sing? Not very long if the forward planning has been done as well as the SMSG Organ Group did this – we had time for a cuppa and welcome, and all ready to start at 10.00am.

The day was extremely well organised and flashed past in a very enjoyable fashion. Some were new to the work, and some had sung it many times before, but I’m sure everyone found some little corners of Messiah they weren’t as familiar with as they thought they were! Learning (or revising) ten choruses was always going to be demanding, but fuelled with a delicious variety of cakes, and lots of hot drinks, we were able to concentrate on following our lively and entertaining conductor. Many thanks to James, and to our accompanist Ed, for their preparation and skilled work keeping us all on board. Of course, James had a few changes of tempo, and extended pauses, to put his own slant on a very well-known composition (Keep awake!)

At lunchtime, some people visited local hostelries, and a few meandered down to the river, while others took the chance to catch up with old friends in the relaxed atmosphere of church and hall. More singing after lunch, and soon it was time for the “nuts and bolts”, a last run-through of joins and corners, and then the audience was arriving and sitting all round the outside of the singers – a kind of inverted surround sound!

Huge thanks to all involved for their hard work: lots of admin and practical work in advance and on the day, front of house welcome and refreshments teams, setting up and clearing away, soloists, and especially to our accompanist Ed Tomlinson and conductor James Wharton.

A grand day out! Thank you.

Jenny Rowlson

P.S. YES PLEASE, OF COURSE WE’D LIKE ANOTHER ONE NEXT YEAR!!

This Music for all @ SMSG event raised £2,744 towards missing pipes and casework for the Willis Pipe organ.

Photos of the event (by Ray Rowlson) can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157649059362280/


Young Instrumentalists Musical Bite

October 11, 2014

Our first Musical Bite Coffee morning of the 2014/15 winter season was a series of performances by some young musicians from St Mary & St Giles CE Junior school.  The children auditioned in school to perform some of the pieces they are currently learning – it was a work in progress informal concert.  Six children (and Mr King) played during the morning – violin, flute, piano and ukelele, with some children playing 2 instruments.  It was lovely to see their self confidence blossom during the morning, some of them were shy about performing in front of people other than their own parents however with such an appreciative audience every child was happy to play more than one piece and sometimes these were repeated later in the morning.

We raised £100.90 for the organ fund from this event.

During the afternoon a private musical event in the Parish Hall by the residents of Fegan’s court raised £46.50 for the organ fund.

I would like to thank Lesley and everyone who helped at the Musical Bite, which was part of Music for all @ SMSG.  Some photos of the young performers can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157648597797786/


Jacob’s Summer Prom

July 20, 2014

A ‘thank you’ concert convened by Jacob Collins was a wonderful opportunity to hear the results of musical talent well nurtured and was enjoyed by an audience of all ages who came on a warm summer evening in July to St Mary & St Giles Church.

Jacob’s various teachers (including his current music teachers at Wells Cathedral School) and the encouragement from everyone at St Mary & St Giles Church ever since he was small has resulted in the development of an all round musician who no longer hides behind his music stand to play, and this concert was convened as a ‘thank you’ to acknowledge this support from the Parish as well as to the medical staff who prevented him going deaf a few years ago. For this concert, Jacob invited the Parish Singers and SMSG church band to perform and he played four different instruments himself during both halves of the programme (violin, viola, piano and organ). He conducted the Parish Singers and the band. Jacob’s music writing talent was also displayed when he played piano with the band as Lesley conducted the world premiere of a composition he wrote during his first year A-level music studies at Wells, called ‘Kindness of Strangers’ which included a glorious passage for violin played by his friend Eleanor.

The programme:

  • Buxtehude, Praeludiam in D Minor (organ)
  • Beethoven, Moonlight Sonata 1st movement (piano)
  • Strauss, Radetsky March (SMSG band, conducted by Lesley)
  • Eric Coats, Dambusters March (SMSG band, conducted by Lesley)
  • Zoltan Kodaly, Adagio (Violin, accompanied by Ros)
  • Jenkins, Agnus Dei – Mass for Peace (Parish Singers, conducted by Jacob, accompanied by John)
  • Lyte, Abide with me (Parish Singers, conducted by Jacob, accompanied by John)
  • Handel, Viola Concerto 1st & 2nd movements (Viola, accompanied by Ros)

Interval

  • Schubert, Sonatina 1 in D major (violin, accompanied by Ros)
  • Boellmann, Priere de Notre Dame – Suite Gothique (organ)
  • Jacob Collins, Kindness of Strangers (SMSG band) – world premiere (conducted by Lesley Salter, Jacob at the piano)
  • The Death of Queen Jane Seymour (SMSG band and Parish Singers) (conducted by Jacob)
  • Telemann, Viola Concerto 3rd & 4th movements (Viola, accompanied by Ros)
  • John Williams, Theme from Schindler’s List (Violin, accompanied by Ros)
  • Powel, How to train your Dragon (piano)
  • Karg-Elert, Nun Danket Alle Gott (organ)
  • Encore – Czardas (violin, accompanied by Ros)

This was the last concert performance on the Willis pipe organ before the Heritage Lottery supported restoration work commences on 21 July, the organ was not in tune (it was a warm evening) however Jacob did well to bring out some of the good sounds. It seemed fitting to end the official programme with a piece on the organ, however an encore was requested and Jacob obliged with an all time favourite of Czardas on his violin. He first played this piece in concert in the church a few years ago, and has occasionally revived it, which has shown many of us his progress from an enthusiastic beginner to a confident and accomplished performer.

Interval refreshments were served by Jacob’s family and announcements (almost keeping to the script) were by Kieran. The event was free, with donations welcomed for MK Hospital Ear Nose & Throat unit whose staff saved Jacob’s hearing in his early teens and towards missing pipes in the Willis organ. 28 audience, 27 performers and 3 people serving refreshments and subsequent donations managed to raise a total of £300 which was magnificent considering the small audience. I would like to thank Jacob for his enthusiastic musicianship and everyone who supported his concert.

Photos of the concert can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78058413@N06/sets/72157645791709871/


Rutter Requiem Day of music

November 12, 2013

Nine months of planning came to joyful fruition on 9th November as we welcomed 160 eager singers to St Mary & St Giles Church for a day of choral singing. As a prelude to Remembrance Sunday we had chosen the Requiem by John Rutter as an appropriate piece for the Organ Fund’s largest ever choral workshop to date. We had representatives from nearly 50 local choirs, with one couple travelling all the way from their home in Vienna for the event!

Name labels and scores collected as they arrived, the singers found their seats (labelled for choral parts) in the nave. The workshop wasn’t an intensive note bashing exercise; though we knew that some singers had never seen the score before and some people (including me) hadn’t heard the whole piece. It was an extended rehearsal; with the more difficult passages given time and attention (with Geoff playing individual parts on the piano to help us). However before we started the Rutter, Jane Sturmheit led us through a series of warm-up exercises to get the vocal chords working and reminded us that we were all capable of more than we realised.

Late morning tea break was followed by another session of singing. At lunchtime we encouraged people to find places to eat in Stony Stratford (some businesses were offering discounts because of the large number of people the event brought to the town). Others ate their own sandwiches in the church and hall. We did something about the visibility of the conductor by raising her box a bit, as some singers near the back couldn’t see her so well when we stood to sing, especially as the men were standing at the front. Next time we’ll have a bigger and higher rostrum box for the conductor to stand on so that everyone can see clearly. The pillars in the nave created poor sight lines from some seats (we had marked these chairs), however there was still some singer repositioning during the day. A third singing session after lunch with the cello and oboe soloists was followed by a short break before a final run through. Everyone needed tea/coffee and homemade cake when we stopped at 3:45 pm. The Parish family did us proud with a great supply of cakes; there was more than enough cake for everyone. The audience started arriving at 4:00 pm and sat in the gallery and side aisles to listen as we had decided (when the bookings poured in) to keep the singers in the nave for the performance at 4:30 pm. It was good to welcome so many people and to explain about the organ, the pipe sponsorship scheme and our music making at St Mary & St Giles Church.

Highlights of the day included the wonderful soprano and instrumental solos, the warm rounded sound of many voices raised together in choral harmony, lots of laughter as we got to grips with the music and chatting with people about their impressions of the event. The other highlight was the teamwork from the organ fund group and many others who helped with serving refreshments, setting up and tidying away afterwards.  Although we were all very tired by the end it was exhilarating to be part of such an uplifting event with such a lovely group of people.

We raised a magnificent £2,668.90 for the organ fund. I would especially like to thank the following people:

  • David Scrutton, Jane Wolfson, Lesley Smart for their brilliant organisation and planning
  • Lesley Salter, Kath Hindley, Jean Hulley, Lydia Jones, Nina May, Jane Wolfson, David Wolfson, Lesley Smart, Marian Wright, Dave King, Dai Evans, Jan Evans, Craig Smart, Ed Sturmheit and David Scrutton for handing out music, serving refreshments, selling audience tickets and tidying up.
  • Geoff Long for accompanying us all day on the piano and Fiona Collins for turning the pages
  • Gabriella Polcino (Pie Jesu) and Joyce Taylor (Lux aeterna) for their wonderful soprano solos
  • Emma Miller (oboe) and Margaret Woodward (cello) for their lovely instrumental solos
  • Jane Sturmheit for her patience and humour as she guided us through our discovery of John Rutter’s Requiem and teased a memorable performance out of so many singers of all abilities in one day.

Some feedback comments received by email from singers:

Thank you so much for a lovely afternoon! :))

Hello and good evening. Just time to say thank you for a splendid day. It was a wonderful experience and we from the Orpheans enjoyed it enormously. We are looking forward to the next one! Many thanks and take care.

Thank you very much for yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am already looking forward to next year’s event!

Thank you for a wonderful day’s singing. It was a new piece to me and I found it challenging singing from scratch but made it with the help of singers around me who had sung it before. It was difficult not being able to see the conductor for most of the time. But the whole day was organised so well and it was great that it was so popular. Feedback from audience members who really enjoyed it was very rewarding. Look forward to next year’s day.

Thanks to you and all the army of helpful people who were involved in today’s workshop / concert. It was a great day and I don’t for a minute underestimate the amount of clearing up we left, even if we are largely well-behaved tidy people!

I had a wonderful day on Saturday, loved being part of such a huge choir and singing such lovely music.  Thank you so much to you and your team for all your hard work organising such a great event. I want to do it all over again now! Looking forward to the next one.

A well organised and enjoyable Come and Sing day, thank you.

It was a GREAT day on Saturday. Most enjoyable and well organised!

Just a note to thank you and your team for a fabulous day! I look forward to the next one.

Cake from Jude

Cake from Jude

Handing out music copies

Handing out music copies

Singers gather in the nave

Singers gather in the nave

Lesley welcomes everyone

Lesley welcomes everyone

Jane leads the warm up

Jane leads the warm up

David talks about the organ

David talks about the organ

Jane conducts the workshop

Jane conducts the workshop

Jane conducts amidst the poppies

Jane conducts amidst the poppies

First run through with Gabriella

First run through with Gabriella

Singers of all ages

Singers of all ages

Jane, Geoff and the singers

Jane, Geoff and the singers

Jane Sturmheit conducts Rutter

Jane Sturmheit conducts Rutter

Gabriella sings Pie Jesu

Gabriella sings Pie Jesu

Gabriella sings Pie Jesu

Gabriella sings Pie Jesu

Geoff and Fiona during rehearsal

Geoff and Fiona during rehearsal

Local sopranos!

Sopranos

Sopranos

Sopranos

Closeup of Sopranos

Closeup of Sopranos

Singers at the back

Sopranos and Altos at the back

During the afternoon rehearsal

During the afternoon rehearsal

David found time to sing too

David found time to sing too

Emma's oboe solo

Emma’s oboe solo

Close up of singers during rehearsal

Close up of singers during rehearsal

Joyce's soprano solo

Joyce’s soprano solo

Margaret's cello solo

Margaret’s cello solo

Anna welcomes everyone to the concert

Anna welcomes everyone to the concert

Singers during the performance

Singers during the performance

Jane receives her flowers

Jane receives her flowers

Dave presents Geoff with his gift

Dave presents Geoff with his gift

Lesley receives her thank you card

Lesley receives her thank you card


Wonderful Summer Opera and Cream Teas

August 30, 2010

At St Mary & St Giles we’ve had a delicious treat today in the form of cream teas followed by 50 minutes of favourite opera pieces performed for us by 5 very talented musicians from Oxford and Cambridge.

Today it was the Stony Stratford Summer Fayre on Horsefair Green, so David and my elder daughter took a tray of a sample cream tea along there to encourage people to visit the church for refreshments, as a result from about 4.15 pm we had a steady stream of thirsty and hungry people consuming scones, jam, cream, cake and tea.  Just before 6.00 pm I did a rough count of our takings, and there was over £200 in the basket.

Earlier that afternoon those of us who were setting up the cream teas got a preview of some of the opera being sung, as Alex Lloyd, Michael Duffy, Guy Hayward, Michael Davis and Richard Moore rehearsed, and I knew from what I heard that the concert would be good.

The programme was as follows:

  • ‘Ei, wie schmeckt der Coffee’ from The Coffee Cantata (BWV211) by JS Bach
  • ‘Donne mie, le fate a tanti’ from Cosi fan tutte by WA Mozart
  • ‘Crudel! Perche finora’ and ‘Hai gia vinta la causa’ from The Marriage of Figaro by WA Mozart
  • ‘Du, feines Taubchen, nur herein’ from The Magic Flute by WA Mozart
  • ‘Canzonetta’ from Don Giovanni by WA Mozart
  • ‘Pastorello d’un povero armento’ from Rodelinda by GF Handel
  • ‘Piangero’ from Julius Caesar by GF Handel
  • ‘Ah, per spempre io ti perdei’ from I Puritani by Vincenzo Bellini
  • ‘Il mio Tesoro’ from Don Giovanni by WA Mozart
  • ‘Papageno/Papagena Duet’ from The Magic Flute by WA Mozart

The concert was free with a retiring collection for the organ fund.  Over 70 people came to listen in addition to the organ team, Fr Ross and Fr Daniel.  The total, including the money from the cream teas came to £756.32 including the gift aid donations.

I would like to thank everyone who helped with this event today, including the organ fund team who moved the piano, chairs, tables, set up and served the cream teas, and tidied away afterwards and everyone who made scones.  I would especially like to thank Alex Lloyd for offering to bring her musical friends to St Mary & St Giles Church to sing and play the piano for the organ fund and Guy, Michael, Richard and Michael for your wonderful contribution – everyone I spoke to afterwards (including my 6 year old younger daughter) said it was really special.