Report of the Committee for 2013

January 2014

Report of the Committee for 2013

This annual report summarises Strings Attached activity during 2013.

We received detailed, valuable feedback from members as a result of the annual survey in January and additional discussion at the Annual General Meeting in February. We have passed our views on to Andrew Comben and the team at the Brighton Dome and Festival and many of them have been acted upon.

They key points were:

1. The overwhelming majority of us prefer the ‘3 piece with interval’ concert to the two- piece shorter concert model of the previous year, so this has now become standard.

2. The majority are happy with a balance of types of ensemble including string quartets and some other ensembles. A third of us would prefer a greater proportion of string quartets. This season the variety has continued, with four excellent string quartets, other mixed ensembles including some wind and piano and one soloist.

3. Last year we enjoyed one solo performer (the tenor, Mark Padmore, who was well received.) This year we have heard Rachel Podger on solo baroque violin. We await responses from the 2014 survey to ascertain whether this has proved equally popular with Friends.

4. Most of us like a little variety in the period of music performed, with some pre-classical and some 20/21st century music. This is reflected in the current season.

5. Most of us were happy generally with the booking and seating arrangements and the printed programmes and notes were especially popular.

This has given us confidence that the Coffee Concert pattern is now well established, and the pleasing increase in audience numbers this season is very gratifying. We were founded with the intention of ensuring there would always be excellent chamber music in Brighton and Hove, and the Coffee Concerts at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange seem now to be well established as the primary means by which this is achieved. This is very pleasing.

Discussions at the Annual General Meeting brought forward other suggestions on which the committee and Brighton Dome and Festival have been working – especially the desire to recruit young people to the Coffee Concert audience. We’ve taken this up by applying to the Cavatina Scheme, of which we became a member in December. This means that people between the ages of 8 – 25 can now attend concerts free of charge. We need you, our Friends to help promote this – do talk to young people who might be interested to help spread the word.

We were very pleased to welcome two new members to the committee at the 2013 Annual General Meeting in the form of Guy Richardson and Rena Feld. Guy has helped in particular in promoting the Cavatina Scheme and Rena has taken over the reins as our very effective membership secretary.

We should thank two committee members who are standing down at the 2014 AGM. John McKean is a founder member who has worked on design and website co-ordination and played a very active role in all of our activities. John Bosowski is also a founder member. Many will recognise him as the person sitting at recruitment table at concerts. Both have generously agreed to continue to undertake these tasks even though not members of the committee.

We have enjoyed a number of excellent concerts during 2013 including the launch concert by the Jubilee Quartet for the 2013/14 season. We are keen to encourage young talent through our launch concert each year.

A new, welcome initiative is co-operation with the Brighton Early Music Festival – this year in the Rachel Podger concert. Bringing together audiences for chamber music and early music is an avenue we would like to pursue further in 2014 and talks with BREMF continue about how this might best be achieved.

We have enjoyed useful collaboration with staff at the Brighton Dome and Festival. As well as the continued personal involvement of Andrew Comben himself, whose particular knowledge and expertise are invaluable, we have been very much helped by Martin Atkinson who has looked after the management of the concerts very effectively. He has helped behind the scenes with a multitude of issues from ensuring we are happy with the blinds to dealing with queuing problems in addition to looking after the musicians. Sadly Martin will be moving on to a new job soon – we shall miss him. We must also thank our two unsung but much-valued volunteer helpers. Chris Darwin has continued to produce wonderful programme notes for each concert as well as managing our concert diary on the website. David Botibol has continued to manage the website very effectively for us.

Many Friends have said in the past that it would be good if there were more concerts available during the summer months. The committee has been thinking about the potential for concerts outside the main September – March season. We plan to think further about this during 2014. With this in mind, and also because of our decision last year to aim to support high quality chamber music concerts which would not happen without our help, we will be announcing our first ‘independent’ Strings Attached concert at the Annual General Meeting 2014. This is possible only because of the kind generosity of Friends – your subscriptions and donations will be helping not only to keep the future of the Coffee Concerts secure but also to provide more wonderful chamber music for people who live in and around Brighton and Hove.

On 31 December we had 116 Friends –10 fewer than in 2012.

Current Committee:

Mary McKean (Chair)     Christine Moon (Treasurer)     Margaret Polmear (Secretary)
Rena Feld (Membership Secretary)     John Bosowski     John McKean     Guy Richardson

Mary McKean