by ANTONY CLAY
OFFERING beautiful classical music to everyone – that’s what Tickhill Music Society is all about.
The popular group has been calling the tune with a packed and varied annual programme for more than four decades.
Stunning singers and top quality musicians have travelled to the community to perform at St Mary’s Primary School and the parish church, many becoming big names in the classical music world.
The 2018/19 concert season has included operatic arias, piano music, trumpet tunes and a church organ recital.
But the society began pretty much by accident when a Tickhill couple’s daughter suggested holding a concert.
Society founder members Philip and Mary Mottram’s daughter Susan linked up with the Coull Quartet through a friend while studying German at university.
One day she suggested in a letter to her parents that they hold a concert for the Coull Quartet in Tickhill.
So Philip and Mary set about organising a chamber music concert in the town, including raising the funds and finding a the right venue which ended up being Tickhill Junior School.
The concert was such a success that some residents formed the society to make classical music events a regular feature of the community’s life and the rest, as they say, is history.
The inaugural 1977/78 season featured 13 events, eight social evenings and five professional concerts.
The society’s concert secretary Adrian Hattrell, himself a founder member, said the success of the group and its longevity was largely due to the community which seems to appreciate great classical music.
“It’s the nature of the population. It’s mostly a commuter town and so I think like-minded people get together,” he said.
“When we began it was before the internet and social media so word spread around about what we were doing.”
Membership was around 148 in the early years of the society but fell around five years ago, though it has now picked up again to around 70.
The aim is to encourage younger people to sign up though the society realises that children these days are often given little opportunity to experience classical music.
“Society members are all from a generation where music was seen as an important part of the school curriculum. But as everyone knows it has been whittled away and is almost non-existent in schools now,” said Adrian.
But he added that there is hope as young people do often attend concerts as visitors, but tend not to join up.
Indeed, people come from far afield to attend the concerts, not just Doncaster and Rotherham.
And musicians travel a long way to perform in Tickhill, some even coming from abroad.
But Adrian believes that those who have been here in the past have told their peers that musicians are looked after well when they perform in Tickhill.
He said: “The musical world is quite close knit and they talk to each other. If they have had some excellent experiences in Tickhill they will tell others.”
The society offers excellent hospitality to its musical guests and the purchase of its own piano for £7,000 in 1999 meant it could also offer top quality equipment where needed.
And for the audience, 100 “beautiful seats” were bought to make listening to music at the school that bit more enjoyable.
The society audience appears to have distinct preferences, with piano recitals and chamber music being particularly popular. Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert works go down well, as do occasional forays into jazz.
But the varied music offered each season means there are always new experiences on offer.
Vice-chair Sally Tyas said: “We always have in a season something that challenges us. We get some surprises.”
Adrian added: “Sometimes the musicians will ask if our audience can cope with what they will be performing and I say yes.”
Sally said that the ethos of the club has always been to be friendly. Concerts always start on time and the audience is respectfully quiet during performances.
Many young musicians play in Tickhill during the early part of their careers and some have gone on to international fame, such as trumpet player Alison Balsom, pianist Melvyn Tan and soprano Emma Kirkby.
Sally said that despite concerns over future membership, she was optimistic about the society’s future.
She said: “We are always trying to get new members. We are desperate for it to carry on. To be able to go out and listen to top music in your town, it’s wonderful.
“When there have been concerns over the future, miraculously someone has always appeared to help.
“The worry is what will happen when most of the committee have to finish without young people coming up. But people will appear like they have done in he past.
“It’s a special society.”
Publicity officer Kate Doubleday said that anyone new attending concerts is encouraged to join and leaflets about the society’s events are distributed widely, such as at venues like Doncaster’s Cast Theatre.
“World of mouth has proved effective,” she said.
Founder member Philip Mottram still takes an interest in the society and attends as many concerts as he can.
Aged 95, he was made an honorary member of the society a number of years ago in recognition of him starting it off in the first place.
He believes that Tickhill Music Society has a bright future ahead of it.
“I think it’s a great achievement,” he said.
“I am pleased that it has carried on. I think that it has become quite an institution in Tickhill. Long may that continue.
“We have always tried to get some of the top musicians.
“We have had all sorts of music performed. We have even had Indian music.
“The society has been a great success.
“I think we have got a very good committee and an extremely competent concert secretary and I’m hoping it will go on.”
Website – http://www.tickhillmusicsociety.org,
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/tickhillmusicsociety
Twitter – @TickhillMusic
Membership – David Doubleday 01302 745785 or firstname.lastname@example.org