Strings Attached Annual Survey Responses – February 2016

Strings Attached Friends annual survey 2015 – 2016: responses

1. In the 2015/2016 season, all concerts last approximately 2 hours including an interval. Is this the right concert length?


The gauntlet having been thrown, this is my second response on the same machine as the first.

I feel strongly that the length of concert on a Sunday morning is right; and so it doesnt start too early, 11am and allows ample time afterwards for a leisurely lunch in town or a bit later at home.

we prefer to be out by 1pm

Though I could do with a shorter interval.

These concerts are the perfect length for a winter’s Sunday morning

If it is known that a particular concert is going to last significantly longer than two hours, it would be useful to know about it, ideally in advance. Be aware that there is an annual season of chamber music concerts in Eastbourne that start at 1445

When they go over 1300 there is a tendency for some audience members to get up and leave – which is disrespectful to the performers and the more patient (or less time-pressured) members of the audience. So, staying inside 1300 is good.

all concerts should be less than 2 hours. over by 12.45 for Sunday lunch

2. In the current season we have 4 string quartets, 1 piano quintet (performed in various formats) and 1 concert of mixed instruments from the Royal College of Music. Assuming the overall number of concerts is the same as this season (6 concerts), what balance of types of ensemble would you like to see in future seasons?



It can be more expensive to generate a different group (eg for Beethoven horn trio or Stochkausen for flute saxophone and harp) and perhaps one instrument (eg the fifth in a Mozart string quintet or piano in Schubert’s fishy quintet) might be sponsored by a willing SA member??

I very much enjoy watching a string quartet play and the interaction between the players. This is my preferred form, but I have enjoyed the other types of ensemble, and the wider repertoire this allows. The balance is about right.

Difficult to fit everything in but try variation

The December concert with a mixture of ensembles was very good. Please do that again. Piano trios – more please!

I’d prefer a better mix to include more wind (either on its own or mixed with strings). I like string quartets but more variety would be nice. How about some different string combinations – eg Tchaikovsky Souvenir de Florence for string sextet, or Schubert string quintet?

I really don’t have enough experience to comment sensibly

Keep string quartets as the mainstay

I would appreciate the occasional vocal concert.

I have no objection to larger ensembles, but do not appreciate the use of amateur musicians

An occasional solo piano or piece for 4 hands would make an interesting change.

I suggest, 3 concerts string quartets, 1 concert wind only ensemble, and 1 concert of either piano or string trios, and 1 concert of string quintets, wind quintets etc

I like the slight emphasis on strings but have found concerts which were wind only absolutely brilliant – an ear and eye-opener when the performers are really talented and the music more diverse/challenging.

3. How much pre-classical (i.e. before Haydn) or 20th and 21st century music would you like included in the concerts? 



I would like to hear one piece which is new to me in every concert. (In every concert in my life – this is the only way we can approach the tingling anticipatory vitality of the ‘innocent ear’ with which everyone pre- 20thC listened to music.)

Perhaps 21st century is a bit untested at the moment, but certainly early/mid 20th century. I remember very much enjoying hearing Pavel Haas, something I would not have known otherwise

Not more than one perhaps. It might put some people off.

a very good principle is to include say one work of 20th-21st century music both for the sake of the audience not becoming too conservative and to allow the musicians to show what they can do. Think of the wonderful Apolon Musegette concert!

I am disappointed that this last season had rather little 20/21 music. The programmes were largely standard fare much of which we have heard in previous series. Does the Dome not have the weight to negotiate more interesting concerts with its artists?

It would be great occasionally to have some early music groups perform – eg The Oboe Band, or Boxwood and Brass (for wind ensembles)

It is good to be challenged with contemporary music

One 1850-1950 per concert. What about Tippett?

There have been some startling performances of established 20th Century music and it seems to be very much appreciated.

Can we have some Shostakovich, and some Tippett. Both wrote wonderful string quartets.

The current balance seems about right

Pre-classical – very occasional only. Love hearing more recent works which activate bits of the brain that might otherwise remain dormant.

There is a wealth of tonal 20th century music which would be enjoyable, such as the Martinu quartets, and much from the British repertory, such as Rubbra or Howells.

4. For the 2015/16 season arrangements for interval refreshments for Strings Attached friends have been changed. Previously coffee and tea have been provided at the bar. This year sherry and soft drinks are provided, where possible in a separate room. How do you feel about this change?



Great. Keep it up – and surely it encourages others to join in and ‘members’ to recognise each other and more easily converse with others they didn’t otherwise know.

prefer coffee (not sherry) but in separate room so queue shorter

Don’t mind – happy to drink either coffee or sherry.

“Free” coffee in the interval

I’d prefer to be with the other concertgoers and, a I don’t drink alcohol, would prefer to have a cup of tea instead of a glass of juice.

Its not about the alcohol, its about the party atmosphere that using the Founders Room seems to generate.

My preference would be for an amalgam of the two arrangements: in other words, for tea and coffee to be provided, but in a separate room

Neither arrangement was satisfactory. The coffee wasn’t very good but equally, I am even less interested in sherry mid morning. I dislike the refreshments being served in a separate room. As I don’t want any of the refreshments available, I prefer to stay in the bar area but under the current arrangement, this reduces the group of people with which one can socialise. More refreshment options in the bar area would be preferable. Although I think that a reduction in ticket price would be a better perk of membership.

And the quality of the sherry has been good – don’t let it decline!

I don’t much like the division into members and non-members. Can’t see why they can’t serve coffee more efficiently! (No choice; straight coffee, add own milk and sugar if desired. It could be pured as people were leaving ths hall for the interval – just pick up a cup.

5. Do you have any suggestions on how the Coffee Concerts could be improved in future years?


Yes- very serious one: tell the staff and performers that it starts 15 minutes earlier – thus the doors will be opened 15 minutes earlier. It really was a disgrace to see on at least two cold and wet winter mornings this season a sad queue straggling right out onto the pavement, without any movement for far far too long. In all other respects, the system now seems to be working very well indeed and the buzz of their increasing popularity is great.

perhaps raised seating on the sides as well, to avoid the unseemly rush for front row seats.

“Crowd-sponsored” concerts?

Is a link to the BBC young musicians programme possible?

Put higher seats at back on 3 sides not just one

More adventurous programming. We seem to have a good stable audience who perhaps wouldn’t be frightened off too easily.

Possibly advance seat numbering so no queues

It seems to me you are doing a great job. I specially like that I will learn something as well as staying in my comfort zone, though that also is enjoyable! Personally, my preference is outside the German tradition – French, Russian, Czech music.

PLEASE have numbered seats. It is primitive to have to queue to get in to get the seat you want. We are in the 21st century.

I’d like more concerts (assuming the current series is profitable!). I’m sure there’s an audience in Brighton to support 8 or more.

Yes, please let’s have more concerts- they are becoming more popular.

Keep doing what you are doing.


Numbered seating?

When the musicians talk about their programme they need microphones unless the ‘in the round’ format is abandoned.

Have one or two more in the year??

Perhaps renaming them sherry concerts!

More comments from performers and how they see the music

I very much like the raked seating – without it, I can see nothing of the instruments and the players. I hope in the future – when the CE is revamped – there will be more scope for raking.

I would like a little more British music, but otherwise they are excellent. Mr Comben’s contribution is outstanding, not simply in getting the artists but in his helpful and enthusiastic presence.

I enjoy them on the whole as they are. I would like more modern music to be included – we have lots of local talent, for example, and perhaps the trustees might look there for suitable pieces now and then.

6. In 2015 Strings Attached introduced a regular newsletter for Friends. Is this a good idea?



It’s really good. Congratulations to all involved.

Not really about the newsletter, but about activities separate from the Concerts; –I love to hear the music, but don’t really understand it, nor can I read music. Might there be some talks, either general music appreciation, or linked with the concerts themselves? Or do you have any links to suitable courses?

Happy to read it on line as it seems a reasonable length.

Well done Andrew!

I’ve only just subscribed, so haven’t received it yet., but think it’s a good idea, but would prefer to receive it by email rather than paper copy.

I don’t remember getting it

Interesting and intelligent articles.

I am not convinced that it has been worth the effort involved

Excellent publication.

Very interesting and helpful commentaries.

don’t make it too “small chatty”; who is getting married to whom, babies etc.

Well produces and interesting

It is a brilliant addition to the offering and the editor to be commended not only for it but for his reviews, too.

Do not feel strongly about this