MUSIC YOU don’t have to go to London to hear the finest young musicians in the country perform classical chamber music — a thriving Island society puts on eight events a year featuring rising stars and internationally renowned peformers.
Rising star soprano Susanna Hurrell is the next to appear at a West Wight Arts Association concert, set for next Saturday, February 9, and then there is a special concert on February 23 by the internationally renowned pianist Peter Donohoe in honour of the 85th birthday of association president, Joan Gregson.
The West Wight Arts Association (WWAA) was founded in 1947 and in its early years presented a mixture of concerts, plays, opera, ballet and marionettes. Performances were initially held in West Wight Secondary Modern school but moved to the Memorial Hall in the early 1960s.
Many famous names have performed for WWAA, including pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Peter Katin and Martin Roscoe. Over the years it has developed into a chamber music society, particularly since the purchase in 1996, with the help of a lottery grant, of a Steinway B grand piano.
Nowadays, the association is a thriving institution, administered by 12 trustees, and presents concerts once a month between September and April, which are enjoyed by large audiences, including 100 season ticket holders and 38 associate members, who receive a reduction in the cost of their tickets.
The 2012/13 season began in September with a spectacular performance by the famous trumpeter Crispian Steele-Perkins, and has continued with Ensemble 360 playing the Mozart and Brahms clarinet quintets, pianist Alexandra Dariescu, the Wu string quartet and oboist Suzanne Thorn.
Many of the artists engaged by WWAA take part in the final round of auditions held by the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) at the Wigmore Hall, London, which WWAA trustees attend.
"We never engage an artist whom we have not heard live, a principle established by my predecessor Frank Gregory," said the present chair of WWAA, Judith Hunt. "YCAT means we can promote young performers of exceptional quality but we also like to go for some big names, like Peter Donohoe.
Other concerts in the season are to be given by the young Estonian pianist Mihkel Poll in March and the Sitkovetsky piano trio in April.
West Wight Arts, which is sponsored by Wightlink, also support young classical musicians on the Island. In September, there was a workshop for trumpet players, and WWAA have also set up a bursary of £1,000 to help Island students with the cost of music lessons, instrument buying, travel costs etc. Young Island musicians can contact Doug Kelman on 753932 for further details.
Tickets for the concerts, which start at 7.30pm in the Memorial Hall, are available from Totland Parish Office, Monday to Thursday to noon, call 01983 756028 or see firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the website www.west-wight-arts.co.uk for details of artists and their programmes.
"West Wight Arts Association is a friendly, welcoming institution, fondly referred to as the 'Wigmore Hall of the IW’," said Mrs Hunt.
"The atmosphere is informal, relaxed and warm, parking is easy, we have full facilities for the disabled. The music making is of a quality you don’t otherwise hear on the Island. Come along and try us out."