A truly magic evening

What an experience! There was an audible gasp from the audience after the last chord of Saturday’s performance of Handel’s Messiah, followed by an astonishing, prolonged standing ovation from the full house.

It was Director Steven Devine’s vision that had paid off. Bringing together superb players mainly of the OAE with world-class soloists from the world of opera, and a small, dynamic choir, his interpretation focused tenaciously on the meaning of the text’s juxtapositions of scripture. Not only was the performance of terrifically high quality, the audience were truly taken on an emotional journey that no-one there will forget.

“The best performance of Messiah I have ever heard.”
“Privileged to be there.”
“The intimacy of the setting gave us all the opportunity to feel that we were part of it. I shall never hear a better Messiah. A truly magic evening.”
“How amazing tonight was. One of the best musical experiences ever, in King Charles or anywhere. I and all the people I spoke to were pretty much lost for words.”
“I was moved afresh by the extraordinary scriptural truths of this extraordinary piece of inspired genius and the dramatic setting... overall one of my top 10 musical experiences ever.”
"It was a-ma-zing."

With thanks to the whole cast:

Soprano: Kate Semmens. Alto Tom Lilburn. Tenor: Dan Auchinloss. Bass: Trevor Eliot Bowes

Violin 1: Daniel Edgar (leader), George Clifford, Sophie Simpson. Violin 2: Stephen Rouse, Mark Seow. Viola: Jan Schlapp. Cello: Kinga Gaborjani. Double bass: Kate Brook. Oboe: James Eastaway, Geoff Coates. Trumpet: Tamsin Cowell, Kirsty Loosemore. Timpani: Stephen Birke. Harpsichord: Stephen Devine. Organ: Robin Bigwood. Directed by Steven Devine. 

Decimus Consort - Soprano: Kate Faber, Caroline Preston Bell, Ellen Smith, Polly Walton. Alto: Christina Astin, Nicholas Perkins, Ben Toombs. Tenor: Alex Churchill, Stephen Pritchard, Philip Mills. Bass: Keith Bryant, Patrick Glencross, Rupert Preston Bell.


Handel Messiah for Christmas

Saturday 8 December, 7:00pm
(Note early start time)

Directed by Steven Devine, co-principal keyboard player with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and also the principal keyboard player for The Gonzaga Band, Apollo and Pan, The Classical Opera Company and performs regularly with many other groups around Europe, including the Academy of Ancient Music.

With four world-class soloists
Kate Semmens, soprano
Mark Chambers, counter-tenor
Daniel Auchinloss, tenor
Trevor Eliot Bowes, bass

Tickets are available here. Advance booking recommended.

Suiting the early Baroque interior of King Charles church and its excellent acoustic, this performance of Handel's masterpiece with a small orchestra and a choir of just 12 singers aims to recreate something of his original conception.


Fauré Requiem 11 November


In place of the usual Sunday evening service, this will be a devotional performance with prayers to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
There will be a retiring collection for the Royal British Legion.


Alex Metcalfe Trio

Saturday 20 October, 7:30pm
Tickets available from https://ticketsource.co.uk/mkctw

Katy Johns (violin)
Miriam Cox (cello)
Alex Metcalfe (piano)

Schubert Trio in B Flat
Shostakovich Trio no.2


Frisson 12 October - Festival highlight

Friday 12 October, 7:30pm | Tickets

A highlight of the Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival this year is the concert at King Charles by Ensemble Frisson, with Karen Jones (whose fabulous flute playing was chosen for the Harry Potter films and May’s royal wedding), Ann Beilby (viola) and Hugh Webb (harp). Their enchanting programme includes music by Debussy, Bax, Richard Rodney Bennett and others.

Hugh Webb (harp) 
Hugh Webb studied with Renata Scheffel-Stein, Sioned Williams and Susan Drake. He has worked extensively in the contemporary music field and Javier Alvarez, Robert Keely and Ian Dearden have all written solo works for him with funding from the Arts Council of England. Hugh’s CD recordings include Bax’s Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet with the Academy of St Martin’s Chamber Ensemble (Chandos); a collection of French music for flute and harp; Villa Lobos’s Quartet (Clarinet Classics); and Bax’s Fantasy Sonata (Koch International). He gave the first performance of Cyril Scott’s Celtic Rhapsody as part of Sidonie Goossens’ 100th Birthday Celebrations at the Wigmore Hall. Hugh Webb also plays jazz on the harp and has given recitals at the European Harp Symposium and the World Harp Congress. He is active in the commercial world of television, film and popular music, devised a children’s show which toured very successfully in 1998 and has written music for a version of The Snow Queen. He has given many masterclasses and has lectured at London’s Royal Academy of Music, the Paris Conservatoire, the Sweelinck Conservatoire in Amsterdam and with Telynor Morgannwg in Wales.

Annie Beilby (viola) 
Australian violist Ann Beilby made her solo debut in the Sydney Opera house aged 19. She has since won many awards and prizes, both as a solo and as a chamber musician, including the Schott & Co Publishing Prize at the 2006 Lionel Tertis International Viola Competition, and the Cecil Aronowitz, Lionel Tertis and Lesley Alexander Prizes at the RCM (2009). Annie was also a finalist in the RCM String Player of the Year Award in 2009, and joint winner of the 2007 RCM Autumn Concerto Competition String section. Having graduated from the Royal College of Music’s MMus programme with Distinction in 2010, Annie now enjoys a rich and varied musical life freelancing with the leading London symphony and chamber orchestras. She is eternally grateful for the support of here mentors Guenter Pichler, Alex Todicescu (Sydney Conservatorium of Music) and Ian Jewel (RCM, London), as well as the Worshipful Company of Musicians in London; the Musicians Benevolent Fund; the Leverhulme Trust; the Richard Carne Trust; the Meyer Foundation; the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia; the Australian Music Foundation; and the Royal College of Music. She plays on a wonderful modern viola made for her in 2011 by David Milward.

Karen Jones (flute) 
Karen Jones studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Peter Lloyd and subsequently won a Fulbright Scholarship and Harkness Fellowship to study in Vienna with Wolfgang Schulz and in New York with Thomas Nyfenger. Her early successes include winning the woodwind section of the BBC TV Young Musician of the Year competition and the Gold Medal in the Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Scholarship. Whilst completing her studies in the USA, she was appointed principal flute of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, a position she held for five years before returning to London. Karen is in great demand as guest principal flute with all the major London orchestras and ensembles including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia and London Sinfonietta. In addition, she is principal flute of both the London Chamber Orchestra and the City of London Sinfonia, and in 2014 was invited to play with the World Orchestra for Peace. She combines this with regular solo engagements, chamber music projects and commercial studio work including the film scores to Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd and Bridget Jones. Previously having held teaching posts at the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity College of Music, London, Karen has a busy schedule as one of the UK’s leading flute teachers giving masterclasses across the country, as well as coaching for orchestras such as the National Youth Orchestra and Kent Youth Orchestra. In 2004 Karen became a professor at the Royal Academy of Music.


Twilight Ensemble 5 October

7:30pm | Discounted tickets available here until 4pm on the day, or full price on the door

In partnership with the Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival, we present the Twilight Ensemble: singers Sarah Dacey, Ciara Hendrick, Greg Tassell and James Oldfield, and pianist Belinda Jones, with guest pianist Andrew Matthews-Owen.

Highlights of the programme will include Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes Op. 52, and humorous songs by Tom Lehrer and Flanders & Swann.

Described as 'exceptionally good' and 'full of personality' Twilight Ensemble have quickly established themselves as a brilliant vocal quartet group dedicated to performing a cappella and accompanied works.

They have a wide range of repertoire, from rare French and German Romantic quartets through to light and comic songs, and have built an excellent reputation for their compelling sound, artistry and communication with audiences. Its members are outstanding singers and musicians, working regularly for companies such as the Royal Opera House, English Touring Opera, Glyndebourne, and the OAE and performing at venues including the Rachmaninoff Hall in Moscow, the Wigmore Hall, and Royal Festival Hall.

 As a group, they have appeared at a variety of venues and festivals including Brandenburg Choral Festival, Rye Arts Festival, Lamberhurst Festival, Queens Tennis Club and Drapers Hall, and have also recorded for Music Sales Ltd. As well as discovering and performing older works, the group are also dedicated to arranging and writing their own pieces and commissioning new works.


Soloists for December's Messiah

We're delighted to announce the soloists who will be singing in our performance of Handel's Messiah on 8th December, directed by Steven Devine.

Find out more about them from these links:
Kate Semmens, soprano
Mark Chambers, counter-tenor
Daniel Auchinloss, tenor
Trevor Eliot Bowes, bass

Tickets are available here.


Remarkable Rachmaninoff

Many thanks to Ruth Beedham and Marcus Andrews for a super concert raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital, and to our lovely audience who helped them raise over £500. What an incredible piece is Rachmaninoff's Sonata for Piano and Cello (in that order, according to the composer!). We went away humming the tunes to the 2nd Piano Concerto...


Music Festival coming soon

We're delighted once again to join forces with the Tunbridge Wells International Music Festival.

Download the flyer here or see the website www.tunbridgewellsfestival.co.uk.

We are jointly promoting two of the concerts, including the opener on Friday 5th October, in which the entertaining Twilight Ensemble present, among others, Brahms Liebeslider, and songs by Holst, Britten, Poulenc, Coward, Skellon and Flanders & Swann. We're particularly looking forward to  Tom Johnson's "Four Note Opera"...