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Choral Notes

10/12/23

Martyn Brabbins returns to Huddersfield!

HCS eagerly awaits Martyn Brabbins’ return to Huddersfield Town Hall for a sold out performance of Handel’s Messiah on Wednesday 20th December. Martyn hardly needs an introduction when it comes to his musical career, but our readers may be interested to hear a little more about his passion for the Arts, for supporting amateur organisations, and about where it all began.

We recently caught up with Martyn, who told us about his family life and musical origins. 

“I am one of 5 children, of what one could describe as working class parents. Both mum and dad left school at 14. Father served as a paratrooper in WW2, prisoner of war, escapee, wounded. Quite the hero. But certainly not destined for a high flying post war career. Money was tight, to say the least. So, enter, age 9 Towcester Studio Band.  That is where I began my musical journey, and I will be ever grateful to the band for all it did for me

It was said that my father, Harry, would “sing for his beer” as a young man. And I do remember he had a warm, velvet voice. He and my mother heard Caruso and Gigli at the de Montfort Hall, Leicester.

So there certainly was a love for music in my family.

The brass band, though, was what inspired me, drove me to endless hours of scale and arpeggio practice, provided a supportive community, and nurtured me through my school years. Hence my support of amateur music making. Without the band I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

 

As he mentioned above, Martyn’s musical roots have led to his championing of amateur musical organisations. Here he details the various organisations he is involved in, and recounts the beginning of his contributions to HCS and his various roles in the society. 

“I am President of the Salmon Orchestra in London, Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, Towcester Choral Society, the Holst Birthplace Museum, and Patron of Gloucester Music service. I offer support and advice to these and other organisations, and occasionally conduct projects too.

My involvement with HCS began with a Friday Night is Music Night with the BBCPO in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester. I don’t remember the date, but it was a long time ago. What I do remember is that the Hallelujah Chorus knocked me sideways!

From then on, my place within the Choral structure has been many and various. I have taken the role of Principal conductor, have acted as an adviser and have assisted with planning and artistic strategy. I have also played my part in several weekend away-days  – great fun, those! I have conducted many concerts, both at home in the glorious Town Hall, and away, and have also made a few CD recordings with the choir.

The sound of the Choral, the performance energy, and the post- performance glow, are all very special. Particular HCS highlights for me include the many Messiah performances – outpourings of joy and the bringing together of the Choral community, both members and supporters. Performances of Elgar and Vaughan Williams and a particularly memorable Rachmaninov Vespers are all standout experiences for me! And, of course, the challenges of new music written for us.”

 

Martyn commented on the current state of the Arts, especially since the pandemic, and gave his views on the role that amateur organisations have to play in ensuring that the Arts and culture in our country are rejuvenated. 

“Culture in the UK appears to be under threat – or at the very least, is unsupported by the elite with the power to help sustain its fine many traditions, to value quality per se, and to help with accessibility for all to the Arts. Culture too is on the move, but I fervently hope that amateur music making will continue to flourish and provide that wonderful creative outlet for the millions of folk who participate.

HCS, as a long standing cultural institution with a proud history, has a responsibility to reinvigorate and renew the traditions upon which it is based. The joy of singing and being a part of the vast community of non-professional singers throughout the land can bring such personal and spiritual reward and HCS, along with similar groups, should strive to continue providing this experience.”

 

And finally, Martyn looked forward to his return to Huddersfield after what feels like a very long time!

“To be perfectly honest, I have really missed being a part of the Huddersfield Messiah these past few years. Experiencing music making really can uplift us all, and a piece such as this masterpiece by Handel has a unique power to move us all in profound and very personal ways. I have a huge sense of anticipation as the December date moves close, and I very much look forward to being back with you all.”

 

The choir are delighted to be singing under Martyn again, and we look forward to performing what promises to be an uplifting Messiah. If you weren’t lucky enough to get your hands on a ticket, you do have the option of joining the waiting list should any tickets be returned. Simply email townhall.tickets@kirklees.gov.uk; you will be added to a list and will be contacted if tickets become available.

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