Letchworth Music

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Letchworth Music Club may be one of Letchworth’s best kept secrets, with origins going back to the International Club which was formed during WW2 for refugees from Europe.

The Club met at Howgills in South View, offering English and shorthand lessons, lectures and concerts. Over time, the Club lost its international aspect and activities reduced to an annual series of concerts.

In 1949 it was reconstituted as the Letchworth Music Club and its first season comprised nine concerts with annual subs of 10s 6d, (52.5p).

In 1950, with some trepidation, the Club ventured on its first public concert in the old Broadway Hall, when students from London Music Colleges performed the Schubert Octet. Three of those students, William Waterhouse, Thea King and Hugh Maguire, all became household names in the musical world.

In 1959 a recital by the Aeolian String Quartet in the old Grammar School hall exceeded all expectations. Over 400 advance tickets were sold and people were turned away at the door. This success, plus council support, led the Club to include two largescale concerts in its annual programme, with five smaller ones at Howgills.

Public concerts, latterly in Plinston Hall, continued until 1990, when public funding ended. Since then all concerts have been held at Howgills and although on a smaller scale, the quality of performers has remained.

Over the years the Club has welcomed many internationally famous musicians including John Lill, Christopher Hogwood, Peter Katin, Stephen Bishop-Kovacevich, the Melos and Nash Ensembles, The London Mozart Players, the Endellion and Kodaly String Quartets, and playing with the then President, Thea King: Sir Colin Davis, at that time an untitled clarinettist!

The Club offers young, local musicians an opportunity to play in an intimate chamber music setting and has welcomed The Kungsbacka Piano Trio, Richard Uttley and Savitri Grier, Mishka Rushdie Momen, Emma Halnan, Ben Goldscheider and a young Jonathan Lemalu. Richard Sisson and Friends, turned out to include Susan Bullock and Petroc Trelawney.

Inevitably there have been a number of crises: power cuts, musicians turning up without their music, and one who forgot his suit trousers. Most recently someone became trapped in the loo, due to a faulty lock and the interval was extended while everyone tried to release him.

Nowadays this thriving club is affiliated to Making Music and assisted financially by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, The Letchworth Civic Trust, Making Music, Philip and Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists, The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, and The Tillett Trust.

Currently the club is looking for more committee members; especially a Treasurer and Secretary. If you might be interested, please visit letchworthmusic.org.

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