Newsletter #34 January 2019

Welcome to our thirty fourth newsletter – designed to keep you informed about our activities, as well as other local chamber music events.


The recital of three of the Bach Cello Suites by Philip Higham on 9 December was, for many of us, a highlight of the season. Some familiar audience members were missing, replaced by new faces who came specifically for the Suites. Afterwards Philip commented on the quality of the audience; he sensed that the audience was focused on the music with unusual intensity. See reviews on

The fourth concert in the series will be given on 27 January at 11 am in the Attenborough Centre by the Doric Quartet.

  • Haydn String Quartet Op. 33 No. 4
  • Bartok String Quartet No. 5
  • Mendelssohn String Quartet Op. 44 No. 2

The Doric have been described as “the leading British Quartet of their generation”.  They formed in 1998 but their career only really took off in 2006 and they didn’t start recording until 2009. So it’s a youngish generation. They’ll play virtually anything, from Haydn to Britten and beyond, but Haydn sits there as the bedrock of their work. And what is fascinating is that last year they changed from modern bows to “transitional” or “classical” bows. The original baroque bow was convex (like an arc). By the time Beethoven was writing players used heavier modern concave bows, which could be tightened to give much greater tension than a baroque bow without snapping the wood. When Haydn wrote his Opus 33 quartets players were halfway between those extremes. Their straight bows could be tightened like later bows but they were still light in weight with less width to the hairs. The Doric say that when they changed from modern to classical bows it was “like we’ve suddenly all got feathers on our shoes”. “These bows give such a quick response when we articulate…you can change the sound really quickly”. “We’ve never been preoccupied with creating this big, lush wall of quartet sound for everything; we’re very keen to differentiate between the inner parts. We don’t use that much vibrato a lot of the time and these bows really lend themselves to that way of playing”. What is extraordinary is that they use these bows, not just for Haydn, but for Mendelssohn and Bartok. That is unusual.

There’s another interesting thing about their instruments. Hélène Clément plays a 1843 Giussani viola that once belonged to Frank Bridge. The story of how it reached its present owners – The Britten-Pears Foundation – is one of the most heart-warming in music. in 1939 Bridge heard that Britten, his pupil, and Pears were leaving Britain by steamer from Southampton for America. He went down to the docks to say goodbye and to give Britten his viola. He couldn’t find Britten but he found his cabin so he just left the instrument on the bunk. They never saw each other again but Britten kept the instrument for the rest of his life and now the Foundation lends it to Hélène. This story was told at a coffee concert at the Old Market Arts Centre some 15 years ago. Does anyone remember the name of that violist, or even the quartet?


The Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts (ACCA) is at The University of Sussex at Falmer. We are still using ACCA while the refurbishment of the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange enters its final stages.
There is free parking at the Sports Centre near ACCA, and at other car parks on the campus nearby (it being Sunday). There are excellent public transport links:

  • by train from Brighton and Lewes; or
  • by bus: No. 25 from Hove or Brighton, No. 23 from Brighton Marina or No.s 28 and 29 from Brighton or, coming the other way, from Tunbridge Wells via Uckfield and Lewes.

Help with transport
A happy tradition is established whereby Strings Attached members offer lifts to others who would otherwise have difficulty with transport. If a lift has not already been arranged for you and you would like a lift, or if you would like to offer one, email the secretary, Margaret Polmear, on . It will only be possible to find a lift for you if there happens to be someone in your area who is offering one.

Ticket prices for the coffee concerts have been held at £18.50 (concessions £16). It’s too late to buy a season ticket for the whole season but a half-season ticket for the three concerts in 2019 is available for £49.50 (concessions £42).

Tickets for all concerts are available from the Brighton Dome box office (01273 709709) or or from ACCA on the day.Tickets for those aged 8 to 25 are free under the Cavatina Scheme. These free tickets can only be booked by visiting the box office in person. The Brighton Dome box office can issue them in advance; the ACCA box office will be open on the morning of the concert. Either the young person should be present at the time of booking, or the person booking must show proof of age, e.g. a passport. Under 14s must be accompanied to the concert by a paying adult.

AGM    ***      AGM    ***      AGM    ***      AGM    ***      AGM    ***      AGM    ***      

Because of the high cost of holding the Strings Attached Annual General Meeting at the Attenborough Centre, this year’s will again be held at 9 Powis Square, Brighton BN1 3HH on Thursday, 28 February at 12.00.

Because the AGM is being held in a private home, it is vital that you let us know by Thursday, 21 February at the latest whether you intend to come by contacting the Secretary, Margaret Polmear, on 01273 328085 or at .  This is so that appropriate seating can be provided or an alternative larger venue arranged if expected attendance makes this necessary.

Please note that parking in and around Powis Square is very limited.

If you intend to come to the meeting, please bring with you the following papers:

Agenda for AGM 2019
Minutes of the 2018 AGM
Annual Report for 2018
Statement of Accounts for 2018
Data protection policy
Register of systems

They will all be downloadable from from the middle of February. We will not supply copies on the day.

As last year, feedback from members about the current coffee concert season will not be sought at the meeting but through a future newsletter. The agenda for the meeting will be largely confined to required AGM business including approval of the annual report and accounts and election of the committee for the forthcoming year. It is expected to be a short, administrative meeting.

If you have any other item for discussion (which should not include feedback about the coffee concerts which, as indicated above, will be gathered separately), please inform Margaret Polmear as above by Thursday, 21 February.

Nomination of committee members
Strings Attached has a committee currently comprising 5 members. The committee meets 4 or 5 times a year with email communication between meetings. If you would like to become involved, either as a committee member or by helping behind the scenes, please contact the Chair, Mary McKean on 01273 554278 or at .

Contribution to the AGM discussion in the event of being unable to attend
If you are unable to come to the AGM but have comments on the papers or ideas for future activity, please send them to the Secretary, Margaret Polmear, as above by Thursday, 21 February.


Unless you have already done so, it is not too late to renew your membership of Strings Attached for the period 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2019. Membership renewal forms can be downloaded from Payment can be made by bank transfer or by cheque but the form still needs to be sent by post. For Gift Aid reasons please complete one form per person. You can also renew your membership at the membership stall at concerts. Paid-up members receive a membership card which can be used to obtain a glass of sherry or fruit juice during concert intervals.

We hope you will choose to renew your membership and support our work – and encourage like-minded people to join us too.


The series of chamber music concerts run by the Nicholas Yonge Society in Lewes continues. On Wednesday 23 January (NOT the usual Friday) Matt Hunt (clarinet), Alina Ibramigova (violin), Louise Hopkins (cello) and Alasdair Beatson (piano) will play a Debussy Rhapsodie, Ravel’s Piano Trio and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. These are world-class players performing two of the greatest chamber works of the 20th century. Tickets are available on or on the door, unless already sold out (which is quite possible).

Details of concerts in Brighton and Hove churches and those organised by other music societies in Seaford, Steyning and Chichester can be accessed via the Strings Attached website. Go to and choose “Calendar” from the menu.