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Friends from Heusenstamm perform sell out concert

with Tonbridge Philharmonic Society

In March 2016, 33 members of the Evangelische Kantorei, including 26 singers, 2 violinists and 5 supporters from Tonbridge’s twinned town of Heusenstamm, came and stayed with members of the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society, to perform Handel’s Messiah together to a packed and appreciative audience in Tonbridge School Chapel on the 19th.

Under the baton of the Society’s music director, Matthew Willis, the concert was a huge success, with a standing ovation at the end.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Tonbridge & Malling attended, standing for the Hallelujah chorus as tradition dictates.

David Packer who coordinated the visit with Eileen Best, said “We were delighted to host our friends from Heusenstamm again this year – something we have done every three years since 1989. I am very pleased that the concert was so well attended, and we look forward  to visiting our friends in Germany in June to sing the Messiah again.”

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New season programme announced

Fresh from their Proms at the Castle concert triumph last month, Tonbridge Philharmonic society announce their new season's programme for 2016-17.

The concerts start in November, bringing to their audience the much-loved Enigma Variations by Elgar, Gerald Finzi’s setting of Edmund Blunden’s text, For St Cecilia, and then a sublime but little-known piece by Gustav Holst, The Cloud Messenger.

The Society’s popular community charity Family Carols, organised in conjunction with Tonbridge Round Table, returns to Tonbridge School Chapel. Their first orchestral concert of the season is in February at St Peters and St Pauls church, and includes Arutunian’s Trumpet Concerto, with Matilda Lloyd, the 2014 BBC Young Musician of the year ‘Brass Category’ winner, as soloist.

The second choral and orchestral concert, in March, is titled ‘Mostly Mozart’, and will include Mozart’s Piano Concerto 22, played by Marina Koka, winner of the Tunbridge Wells International Young Musician of the year competition in 2014, and Mozart’s Requiem.

In May the orchestra bring us back to the symphonic developments of the nineteenth century with Smetana Ma Vlast (My Homeland), Borodin’s 2nd Symphony and then right up to date with Richard Norris’s Symphony in (approximately) 15 Minutes.

With the season finale as always, the Society’s summer proms concert.

Season tickets are available at last year's prices www.tonphil.org.uk/tickets.

Rehearsals start back first week in September, and new members are welcome. For choir call Carol on (01732) 358458, for orchestra Alison on (01732) 833750.

Society marketer gets his trainers on for charity

On Sunday 24 September 2016 David Gandon, the Society's Marketing Officer, joined the 100s of other runners for the Hospice in the Weald 10k run around Tunbridge Wells.

David said about running the course, "10K completed in 51:30 this morning - happy to have a new personal best, and grateful for everyone's generosity. Current donations: £515". He was given his medal by Dame Kelly Holmes.

Proms at the Castle triumph

10 July 2016

An outdoor concert demands a perfect setting and the lawn adjoining Tonbridge Castle was just that – a wonderful and highly appropriate backdrop to a very British sort of evening.…


Everyone was provided with a Union Flag and two brown paper bags to blow up to replicate cannon – an essential part of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

By invitation from Matthew Willis under whose direction the choir and orchestra have moved forward to notable acclaim, the music for the programme had largely been chosen by the people of Tonbridge and surrounding communities.

As a celebration, the evening was absolutely perfect.

For the full review see our 2015-16 season reviews page.

Tonbridge ‘Family Carols’ raises over  £4,000 for local charities.

In December 2015, in a candlelit Tonbridge School Chapel, under the professional tinsel-clad baton of music director, Matthew Willis, Tonbridge Philharmonic Society, in conjunction with the Tonbridge Round Table, organised a sell-out Family Carols event.

Proceeds from the event, totalling £4,315.00, are now going to their chosen charities, West Kent Mind and to provide local community sports equipment.

Pat Downing MBE, President of West Kent Mind, said about receiving £2,077.50 this week from the Society “We are thrilled to receive such an amazing amount.  West Kent Mind will put this to good use, continuing to work in the local community with those experiencing mental health problems.  It was such a marvellous Family Carol Service and it was a pleasure to attend and read a Lesson.   Thank you to everyone involved for their support and generosity.”   

Eileen Best who organised the event on behalf of the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society says “We are delighted our annual festive event was such a success this year, and enabled us to support these worthwhile local charities.”

 Toby Butler of the Tonbridge Round Table said “It is great to be able to invest in our local community this way, and wish to thank all who those who came and made it such a special community event, including our lesson readers Tom Tugendhat MBE MP, Pat Downing MBE West Kent Mind, Mayor Owen Baldock, three schoolchildren, and Robin Morrish, Tonbridge Philharmonic Society President.”

Date of 2017 season's Choral workshop announced

Dreaming of Gerontius
A choral workshop led by Matthew Willis

11 February 2017  1pm - 5.30pm
Tonbridge School

Learn about how to perform Sir Edward Elgar’s work Dream of Gerontius.
With a short performance at the end to friends and family.

Feedback from last year's workshop include:

"A fantastic workshop today! Tricky bits of the Messiah well and truly conquered!! Hallelujah!".

"What a fantastic Workshop we've had this afternoon. Grateful thanks to all who made it possible. It was the highlight of this year for me!".

Our Choral chair is honoured

Congratulations to our Choral Chairperson, Carol Wake, who has been awarded an OBE in the 2017 New Years honours, for services to the community of Kent.  Very well deserved.

Two charities receive Family Carols donations

Following our Family Carols in December 2016, the organisers David Robins, deputy Chair of the Society and Eileen Best presented a cheque for £1,591.04 to Jill Scott at The Scotts Project. 

Eileen said “Together with Tonbridge Round Table, we were delighted to be able to donate nearly £3,200 to two deserving charities this year, thanks once again to the support of our audience, who packed the School Chapel and donated so generously on their way out, as well as buying tickets.

The Scotts Trust were particularly thrilled as they have a big building project to finance and this donation will be very helpful."

Operatastic reviews 

The Society's Summer concert this year involved a semi staged version of Bizet's Carmen and had rave reviews from a full capacity audience and participating members. The official reviews wrote "It was extraordinarily exhilarating and moving - is testament to Matthew Willis’ skills and the performers’ growing confidence in their abilities together." Audience members wrote "Carmen! A wonderful evening - exciting, dramatic, so much energy. Thank you TonPhil!"

For the full review , see our 2016-17 Reviews & Feedback page

New season's programme announced


As the Society's new 2017-18 season will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, there are some powerful themes in this year's musical programme. Starting with the Dream of Gerontius, the choir and orchestra reflect on mortality, as Elgar explore's John Newman's poetic reflections on the after life.

The orchestra embark on an epic journey by performing Shostakovich's Leningrad Symphony in February, in Tonbridge School Chapel. The programme will of course be peppered with joy, with our Family Carols in December,  and expect more operatic excitements in our Summer concert. To enjoy all our concerts don't forget to purchase a season ticket - 5 concerts for the price of 4.