In 1987, whilst drinking coffee in the vicarage kitchen, Rosie Shaw and Gill Lumby hatched the idea of forming a concert society. The Milverton and Fitzhead Society were approached and agreed to “ parent” the new society. The first two concerts took place in the Victoria Rooms with the support of Mary Ann Devlieg of Take Art. Mary soon suspected that the society was “too successful” for Take Art to support and suggested contacting Nick Capaldi of South West Arts for help. After a successful funding bid in Exeter, Melvyn Tan was the first performer at a concert held in the church, a larger venue.
The seating plan was generated on a computer by Leo Shaw, then aged eleven and is still used to this day! The aim was to create a warm, welcoming and professional atmosphere. The concerts are candlelit with professional stage lighting originally provided by Brian Plumb and now provided by Duncan Stewart working in close co operation with the performers. The beautiful church building provides superb acoustics often remarked upon by international artists.
By 1989 Gill felt the Society could be more inclusive and we began to ask musicians if they felt able to provide a workshop for Milverton Primary School in the afternoon before a concert. These workshops continue. In the summer there were Jazz concerts and two summer events promoting world music, the school hosted Jaleo a flamenco group and we were fortunate to be included in a European Tours by Ugandan musicians with a workshop and the main concert held in the school grounds. More recently the Milverton May festival concert became a showcase for young, more local musicians.
In 2003 the Society became independent of the Milverton and Fitzhead Society in order to obtain charitable status and therefore be eligible for grant funding. The Committee retained most of its initial members apart from Rosie Shaw who resigned after 17 years of unstinting commitment. In 2004 the church heating died. This suddenly left the Society without a base for a season, so Fitzhead Church, Wellington School and Oake Village Hall were used. Then, with the return to the warm church, began the exciting plans for our own grand piano.
For 25 years the concert society has supported Milverton School
Providing the opportunity for children to see and hear the best classical musicians is a core aim of the society. Each year we hope that once again through us, some artists will be running workshops at the school.
For over a quarter of a century, The Milverton Concert Society and its team of devoted volunteers has worked tirelessly to bring top quality live classical music to rural Somerset. Recently our triumphs have included raising funds to buy our own grand piano – a Yamaha C3 – which was inaugurated in November 2010 at a gala recital given by international soloist, Melvyn Tan, who has also agreed to become our society’s Honorary President.
Since its foundation in 1987, the society has always believed that providing the opportunity for children to see and hear top class classical musicians is important and our artists often run pre-concert workshops at the village school. In addition to our programme of concerts we also put on fund-raising events and occasional Piano Days when members and others have a chance to play piano. We are also happy for students taking exams, or indeed any local pianists, to practice their pieces on our piano. This can be arranged, depending on church availability, by contacting Gill Lumby on 01823 400307. All performances take place in Milverton parish church where there is level wheelchair access through the West Porch to all facilities and the Concert Society thanks the vicar and church wardens for the use of the church.
Our Next Concert
Our next concert is at 8:00pm on Friday 12 February 2016 and features the Sitkovetsky Piano Trio which has been acclaimed all over the world, including a recent highly successful tour of China. Alexander Sitkovetsky, violin, Wu Qian, piano, and Richard Harwood, cello, will be presenting a programme of Saint-Saens' Piano Trio No. 2 in E Op. 92, Ravel's Piano Trio and Tchaikovsky's Piano Trio in A minor Op. 50.
For details of this and of our other concerts please see our 2015/16 Programme page.
Pre-concert pub suppers
The Globe in Milverton will once more be offering delicious pre-concert suppers, at a cost of £10.95 for 1 course and £13.95 for 2 courses. The pub opens at 6.00pm, last orders for the pre-concert deal are at 6.45pm, early diners to be out by 7.30pm. Please call Adele on 01823 400534 by the Thursday evening before the concert to book.