Haywards Heath Music Society marks a milestone

For a volunteer-run Mid Sussex organisation to operate for 75 uninterrupted years is quite an achievement, and one which Haywards Heath Music Society was determined to celebrate in style.

Friday, 12th May 2017, 10:01 am
Updated Monday, 15th May 2017, 9:27 am
Audrey Williams, John Ingleton (past Chairmen), Janet Canetty-Clarke (past President), Jeff Harris (current Chairman), Neil Jenkins (current President), Gwynneth Paine (past Chairman) and Ian Barras-Hill (next Chairman)

So, before the final concert of their 75th season last month a champagne reception was arranged for the membership, together with past, present and indeed future officers of the society, as well as several local guests with strong links to the organisation.

The gathering was addressed by the current President, the distinguished tenor and musicologist Neil Jenkins, who applauded the role of Music Societies in encouraging new musical talents.

He illustrated this point with examples from the Society’s history, where up-and-coming musicians had performed here early in their careers, and had gone on to become celebrated nationally and internationally; these included Emma Johnson, Evelyn Glennie, Steven Osborne, Freddy Kempf, and many others.

He then cut the celebration cake and raised a toast to the future of the Society. The attendees then transferred to St Wilfrid’s Church for the musical culmination of the evening, a much-anticipated cello and piano recital by two former BBC Young Musicians, Laura van der Heijden (2012) and Tom Poster (2000).

Concert review by Mike Lavelle

What a wonderful concert to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Haywards Heath Music Society!

Laura van der Heijden (cello) and Tom Poster(piano) gave us an outstanding concert. Within a few minutes of the opening of the Debussy cello sonata it was obvious that these two extremely talented and sensitive musicians were at one with each other. The music of the Debussy is full of tempo and dynamic changes, and flits from bursts of staccato to languid, lyrical phrases in the blink of an eye, yet their playing was completely coordinated.

The second piece was Schumann’s Three Romances, of which the middle movement in particular was indeed ‘heartfelt’, and Laura’s beautiful bowing arm produced the most perfect legato, drawing the best out of the 18th century English cello by Hill that she plays.

This was followed by Martinu’s Variations on a theme of Rossini, which was a tour de force of technical mastery by both musicians. Laura had to play some extraordinary staccato bowing, and Tom had his work cut out, but in spite of having some really challenging music to play, he still seemed to be able to find the time to turn away from the printed music to watch Laura’s bow so that they were always perfectly together.

After the interval, we heard ‘L’ by Graham Fitkin, originally written for Yo Yo Ma. This was a very entertaining piece, full of contrasts and interesting cross-rhythms, and a very nice overall shape. From a quiet passage in the middle with long held notes on the cello, it built up to a lively ending culminating in the last few bars of tranquillity.

The last piece was the Cello Sonata in G minor by Fauré, and was played with consummate musicianship. The piano part is complicated at times, but Tom played it with such delicacy that it was never overpowering.

A nice touch was the fact that both musicians spoke to the audience, which nearly filled the church, and the applause produced an encore of Ravel’s ‘Piece en forme d’habenera’.

All in all, this was a concert performed by two world-class players who are masters of their instruments.

To find out more about Haywards Heath Music Society visit www.haywardsheathmusicsociety.org.uk.

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