So if you have done your spadework (sorry), I can now bring all of these elements together. Composer Nigel Clarke was commissioned by conductor John Hutchins and the Eynsford Concert Band to compose an original piece of music inspired by Sarah Cunnington’s sculpture, Hope. This world première was given a gala performance in the Tythe Barn of the Pilson at Malling Community with all proceeds from the concert shared between the Community and Spadework, with Brian Bennett playing a big organisational role. And what a concert! Finlandia (Sibelius), a British folksong fantasy by Philip Spark (‘Albion Heritage’), Bruckner’s Os Justi, Thames Journey (Nigel Hess), a very original arrangement by Arthur Wilkinson of Lennon and McCartney’s Michelle, and Jan Ven der Roost’s Canterbury Chorale. Then John invited Nigel up to talk us through the creative process and then…. and then I had to stand up and read the poem I had been invited to write to accompany Nigel’s music. Now here’s the funny thing. I have to speak in public all the time. But I was so nervous on this occasion. Behind me were the band and in front the audience (some 130 people) and I realised that this was a new (and so far unique) experience for me; to read out something I had created in front of a large number of complete strangers. Fortunately, the audience were kind. And then we were on to the really serious stuff: Nigel’s composition. It was great and John and the Band did him proud (they’re recording the CD in a fortnight’s time and in due course I’ll post the link here). Afterwards, the Community offered tea and cakes in a marquis and we ‘performers’ (I include myself immodestly) could relax a little. I met the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, Sue Murray, complete with her gold chain. She also keeps a blog and I’ll post the link here when I get hold of it. After that we retired with the band members to a pub and from there Nigel, John, Brian and N° 1 sprog went to Brian’s house, where we sat up until well into the small hours exhausting his supply of port and nibbling fine cheeses and talking about music and lots of other things beside. I know some at least of the people I have mentioned may read these posts and, well, I just want to say thank you to you all. It was such an enjoyable occasion and, for me, such a different experience. If I had to sum up that experience in one word, the word would be ‘community’: the flourishing community of West Malling; the Pilsdon at Malling Community; the community of Spadework; the community of the Band; and the community of friends who, together, produced something very, very special.
I am a member of the band and would like to say how much we all enjoyed the evening as well. It it great to have a piece of music and poetry written about our local area by such eminent artists.