Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th December 2017
The Maidstone Singers’ traditional Christmas Celebration at St Martin’s church was sold out this year and was made particularly special by the presence of the Mayor of Maidstone, Malcolm Greer, who attended on both nights. The warm, party atmosphere, with drinks and food, provided a perfect setting for songs old and new from the Singers as well as the usual audience participation. This year bell ringers from St. John’s CEP School brought an additional delightfully festive element to the proceedings.
“The evening really put us in the Christmas spirit. We thought the programme was very well thought out. It was a pleasure to hear and sometimes participate in the Christmas music and also to listen to some we haven’t heard before.”
Brandenburg Choral Festival of London
St Botoloph’s Church, Sunday 29th October 2017
The Maidstone Singers presented an evening of songs and readings with a Shakespearean theme at St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate as their contribution to this year’s Autumn Season of the Brandenburg Festival. The concert of 22 madrigals, part-songs and folksongs included the world premier of three new pieces by Philip Sawyers which were very well received. Most of the music was inspired directly by Shakespeare’s works from which extracts were acted or read by Angela Clark and David Vale, providing a wonderful mixture of melody and amusement. The dialogue between Petrucchio and Kate from The Taming of the Shrew will linger long in the memory! The various composers ranged from 16th century to the modern day illustrating the inspirational impact of the bard over many centuries. The Maidstone Singers, strengthened with some new voices this season, and benefitting from Kathryn Ridgeway’s outstanding leadership, used the excellent acoustic to great effect with a thoroughly professional and extremely enjoyable performance.
TMS Summer Concert – Saturday 17th June 2017
The Maidstone Singers decided to try out a new venue for their Summer Concert and St Faith’s church provided an excellent location for their performance of Gjeilo’s ‘Sunrise Mass’ and Durufle’s ‘Requiem’ with the extended choir and the TMS Sinfonia. A memorable concert on a wonderful summer’s evening. Congratulations to all, especially to Music Director Kathryn Ridgeway and soloists Stephanie Crooks and Tim Colston.
Tour of the South of France May 2017
We have recently returned from this year’s tour, which saw performances in Aix-en-Provence, Nice and Monaco. Aix is an elegant historic town, and we enjoyed an “a cappella” concert with Ensemble Vocal Agathe, a local ladies’ choir.
In the elegant resort of Nice, we performed a shared programme with the excellent “Ensemble Vocal La Sestina”, before performing two works together. We were greatly encouraged by the audience’s enthusiastic response, and cemented friendship with La Sestina’s members by sharing a late night picnic overlooking the Promenade des Anglais.
Our one-day visit to Monte Carlo included two performances: one at the Anglican St Paul’s church; and the other, strictly impromptu, under the initially wary gaze of the security staff at Monaco Cathedral. Fortunately, they thoroughly approved of the singing, and even joined in with applause from tourist visitors! Since we had not been given prior permission by the cathedral hierarchy, the outcome was testament as much to Kathryn’s audacity as her musical directorship.
One of the pieces sung to great acclaim with La Sestina was the opening chorus from “Sunrise Mass” by Ola Gjeilo, a contemporary Norwegian composer now based in America. Along with Durufle’s Requiem, this work will form part of the programme for our upcoming concert at St Faith’s Church, Station Rd, Maidstone ME14 1LH.
Unique, extraordinary, joyful and sad, this remarkable musical and personal tribute by literally hundreds of the singers and instrumentalists whose lives had been touched and transformed by Jeffrey Vaughan Martin’s musical inspiration, provided an unforgettable experience for a large audience at Maidstone’s Mote Hall on Sunday 19th March 2017. Congratulations to all those who conceived, organised and performed in ‘Celebrating Jeffrey’.
Jeffrey Vaughan Martin was one of the best-known and most influential musicians/educators in Kent: founder of the Kent Youth Wind Orchestra, Maidstone Youth, Music Society (MYMS), The Maidstone Singers and Jupiter Workshop Projects; Music Director of Maidstone Choral Union and West Malling Community Choir; Specialist Music Inspector in Kent; and many other groups and responsibilities for over 45 years. Jeffrey’s influence on the musical lives of thousands of people, young and old, is incalculable; through innovation, ideas and sheer energy, Jeffrey made a difference, creating extraordinary opportunities for generations of musicians. Jeffrey’s sudden death in April shocked everyone who knew him and a few weeks later hundreds of former pupils, colleagues and friends paid tribute at a memorial service in All Saints Church, Maidstone. This was a chance to remember Jeffrey through the music that he loved.
The music included great JVM favourites such as: Gallimaufrey – Woolfenden, Dambusters’ March – Coates, Finlandia – Sibelius, Movements from ‘The Armed Man’ – Jenkins
There were performances by MYMS, KYWO, Maidstone Choral Union, The Maidstone Singers, West Malling Community Choir and special guest soloists including former Kent students Paul Beniston (Principal trumpet, LPO) and Fraser Bowles (‘cello). Percussion legend Evelyn Glennie, who performed her first professional engagement with KYWO conducted by JVM back in 1985, had filmed a performance of her marimba piece ‘A Little Prayer’ especially for the concert. The ‘JVM All Stars Orchestra and Band’ also played.
The proceeds from the concert will be used to establish The Jeffrey Vaughan Martin bursary which will be used to support young instrumental musicians.
The Maidstone Singers appeared once again in the Brandenburg Choral Festival of London on Thursday, February 23, 2017, this time in a fringe event in Covent Garden. Fringe Club Nights are fun, sociable events, where ‘it is definitely ok to have a drink and a good time’. So, the Singers demonstrated the full range of their talents together with two other exciting a cappella groups, ‘The Kings Cross Motown & Soul Choir’ and ‘Absolute Harmony’. A most enjoyable evening for all concerned and one that we would be keen to repeat!