The Evesham and District Music Club, founded in 1948, is a charitable organisation which promotes a number of professional classical concerts throughout the year. It’s aim is to bring classical music of a high calibre to Evesham and the Vale for the benefit of all. EDMC engages groups, usually with international reputations, who play in the big venues in London and in many cases, worldwide. They cover the complete range of classical music, including duets, trios, string quartets, piano recitals, vocal concerts, brass bands and orchestras. Usually, each year there is one concert which encourages the participation of school aged students.
70 years of music in the Vale
The first 50 Years
as written by Helen Wilkerson, Founder- Member ands Vice- President of the Club
(extracted from the Souvenir Brochure for the 1998-1999 50th Season )
In 1948 two friends, Dulcie Langham and Susan Greenall, were proprietors of the Vinecroft Café, which used to be sited in Evesham High Street. Before moving to Evesham, Miss Greenall had been Secretary of a music club in Grantham and the idea for one in Evesham really stemmed from her; she realised that people living here needed to travel to Cheltenham or Birmingham to hear classical music performed live. So they contacted local music lovers and the first meeting was held. Ron Edwards , head of music at Prince Henry’s Grammar School, was the first Chairman and with Susan Greenall as Secretary and Mr Wadams as Treasurer. The rest of the committee- Dulcie Langham, Mollie Slatter, Dorothy Wilks, Peter Waddington, Leslie Byrd, Cyril York and Helen Wilkerspn. Mr C.E. Miller , Headmaster of the Grammar School, agreed to be our President and to allow concerts to be held in the school hall for a nominal fee.
[ Info from the archives : Subscription for 4 concerts in the first year was 15 shillings ( 75p) 160 members were enlisted by May 1949 with costs in the first year totalling £ 140 . Concert times were arranged to fit in with local buses.]
From the very first concert, given by Isobel Baillie- accompanied by Herbert Sumsion ( then organist of Gloucester Cathedral)- the aim was to always present artists of the highest musical calibre ( within the limited budget) Many of these artists were well chosen - often spotting potential before they were too famous and too expensive! (This is still the same today) We had two visits from John Ogden (pianist) an awkward young man with a shock of curly hair and a phenomenal technique- two from Gerald Moore (singer)- his “ Wintereise” with Victor Carne was very famous, then of course the ‘new’ Amadeus String Quartet, violinists Ralph Holmes, Antonia Brosa and Yossi Zivoni , pianists Kendall Taylor, Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick, Julian Bream (guitarist) , Evelyn Rothwell ( oboist - in 1953, returning as Lady Barbirolli in 1992), Thea King and Gervase de Peyer (clarinettists), and many , many others.
There used to be an annual dinner at the Lygon Arms and a garden party at Abbey Manor ( with Mrs Rudge as hostess) and there were often concerts concerts by Club members themselves. Over the years the style of programming changed little.
In the early years, with considerable help from the Arts Council, EDMC had the opportunity of bringing in large famous orchestras the Goldsburgh, the Lemare, the Reginald Jacques ( led by Emmanuel Hurwitz), the Bournemouth Symphony ( under Charles Groves, no less), the BBC Midland Light and even the C.B.S.O, under Harry Gray. Of course travelling is easier now and getting to Symphony Hall and so on, is much easier but in the days after the war , live music in our own small town was a real thrill.
[ Info from the Archives: 1992/93. Subscriptions for 6 concerts £22 with 159 members . Grants and sponsosrship receipts £ 2175 .Total costs for the year £7420]
The next 20 Years
With the development of Hi,Fi- CD’s etc, TV, Computers and the internet ,plus mobile devises and the access to transport, the world is a different place and the choices available to many ,wide and varied. This applies to audiences and the makers of music alike.
The Evesham and District Music Club has continued with its original mission to bringing quality classical music to be heard live for the local people and to facilitate opportunities and encouragement for young talented musicians . In the 50th Season Brochure Freddy Worlock and Beverley Juggins commented how the making of a programme was put together. Both are still members of the Club, Freddy having held the role as Chairman of the Music Committee for many years whilst Beverley is still on the committee alongside James Connolly and Oliver Lister
Selecting a programme
Technology has made the process a bit quicker than the 18 months required in the days of “ snail-mail” but the ping-pong between musicians and venue availablilty doesn’t get any easier, as there is so much demand for both. Also, as the Evesham Arts Centre is actively used by Prince Henry’s Academy, their usage needs to be tied in with school activities , which may not be known so far in advance.
We are aided in our selection process by the booklets produced by Making Music and the Countess of Munster Charitable Trust who pull together information about artists (and their music programmes for the coming season) who have achieved a high standard and who are willing to travel. The committee, members and friends suggest other names we might approach and a short list for the following season is produced a year before the season is due to start.
Since 1999 we have had some amazing talent, young and old, up and coming and established, including; Emma Johnson ( clarinet) , Warwick based Coull Quartet ,Fujita Piano Trio, James Lisney ( piano) , Czech string musicians -the Wihan Quartet , the Vienna Mozart Trio, Bochmann Quartet , Canteloube wind Trio, Craig Ogden ( guitar)Clare Jones ( harp) with Chris Marshall ( percussion), Benjamin Grosvenor ( piano), Paul Lewis ( piano), Jayson Gillham ( piano) , Michael Lunts performing as Franz Schubert, Alessandro Ruisi ( violin),The Flowers Brass Band, to name but a few. The music on offer ranging from renaissance and baroque, through to modern times: Handel to Mussorgsky, Chopin to Bernstein, Arne to Elgar. Something for everyone.
However the restraint of the budget is one comment that has not changed over all the years, with the combination of the number of anticipated members , whose subscriptions “ underwrite” the musicians ( and piano) costs plus grants and ticket sales that made be achieved for the individual concerts ideally keeping the accounts in balance.
Keeping classical music alive in the Vale of Evesham is really important.
The Evesham and District Music Club is grateful for the financial support from the following:
The Countess of Munster’s Musical Trust
Making Music Selected Artists
Wychavon District Council
Evesham Town Council
Pershore Town Council
The Elmley Foundation
The Rotary Club of Evesham
Divisional Funding from Councillors John Smith, Bob Banks and Anthony Hopkins