It was in 1987 that David and Linda Holmes founded a series of chamber concerts; these began at the Walpole Old Chapel, with some concerts in Halesworth, moving in 1991 to Cratfield. The creation and registration of a charitable trust, Blyth Valley Chamber Music, followed in 1993. By then the format of six fortnightly Sunday afternoon concerts was firmly established, though with some occasional winter extra concerts. The highlight of their 13 years was a cycle of all 15 Shostakovich string quartets, played by the Sorrel Quartet over one weekend in September 1999.
The Sorrel returned in 2007 to give the world première of a specially commissioned string quartet by Simon Rowland-Jones, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Blyth Valley Chamber Music. We commissioned another new string quartet in 2011, this time from Timothy Salter, which had its first public performance at Cratfield from the Sacconi Quartet. In 2013 came the song-cycle Landscape with Three People from Elena Langer for two high voices and small ensemble, now recorded commercially and available for purchase: click here for more details.
2016 saw plans – adopted at the December AGM – to adopt a new Constitution, a new official name (Concerts at Cratfield, which is how most people thought of us already) and a new legal form, the Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This body came into being on its registration with the Charity Commission; it will run our 2017 concerts and all future seasons, Blyth Valley Chamber Music now being in run-off mode. As part of the same transformation, our subscribers (who pay regularly and have a vote at each General Meeting), until now called Patrons and Members, have become Patrons and Friends, though with no significant changes other than of name.
Building a concert season
We aim in each season to combine well-known combinations of instruments for which there is an abundant repertoire – like the string quartet and piano trio – with less usual groups of instruments whose repertoire may therefore be smaller, but no less worth hearing. We also intend to offer in each concert enough of what could be called the ‘core’ repertoire to give us a good chance of filling the church – ticket sales being our largest source of income – but to spice this with new or less well-known works. Our working definition of ‘chamber music’ is broad enough to include occasional concerts of vocal works and of pre-classical music for small ensembles.
In choosing who should play for us, we like to invite back those whose past concerts have pleased us and who have enjoyed performing at Cratfield; alongside, we are keen to try out promising newcomers heard elsewhere and occasionally invite well-established stars. It’s our firm view that, in every season, the music itself should be the focus of all our efforts.
Concerts at Cratfield CIO is now the official name for the organisation responsible for each summer concert series. It is a registered charity, no 1169617, governed by a Constitution approved by the Charity Commission.
We have no paid employees at all, so our activities depend entirely on the energy of volunteers. They are our Trustees, run the Box Office, distribute publicity, collect musicians from the train and make sure there is lunch for them (from the prizewinning Lawson’s Deli in Aldeburgh), number the seats, hire a keyboard instrument when needed (pianos usually from Andrew and Jill Giller at The Old Granary, harpsichords from Alan Gotto), write, edit and print the programme for each concert, welcome concertgoers, make sure the portaloos are clean, organise car parking and tidy the church after each concert.
Our partnership with the church at Cratfield is very close and warm: church helpers organise the famous teas in each concert interval, and our concerts also support the church financially via a tithe on our ticket receipts. We made special efforts to raise funds for repair of the church roof, damaged by the theft of lead in December 2015.
Ticket receipts, which cover only about two-thirds of our expenses each year, are generously supplemented by regular contributions from our Friends (formerly Members) and Patrons (see ‘Show your support’ below). Each group in return gains two weeks’ priority booking, an invitation to each General Meeting and occasional special events (in 2016, a reception and extra concert from the Heath Quartet).
The Annual General Meeting reviews the season just ended, considers the annual reports and accounts, looks ahead to the next season, appoints Trustees for the following year – and then there is a convivial buffet lunch.
The registered address of Concerts at Cratfield CIO is 29 South Entrance, Saxmundham, Suffolk IP17 1DG.
We adopted a new version in 2016 of our Data Protection Statement. Click here to download it in PDF format; the file will either open as a new on-screen page or be downloaded to your computer, depending on your own browser settings or preferences.
Show your support
If you think it important to guarantee the future of our concerts, then please consider becoming a Friend or Patron by taking out an annual subscription, which will be increased in its benefit to us by 25% if you qualify for Gift Aid. Click here to access the form; the file will either open as a new on-screen page or be downloaded to your computer, depending on your own browser settings or preferences.