Welwyn Garden Concert Club
Patron: Nicholas Daniel OBE
President: Andrew Watkinson
Chair: Karen Springthorpe
Hon Secretary: Paul Tosswill
Hon Treasurer: Paul Taylor
Welwyn Garden Concert Club is a Registered Charity No. 1039327
History of the Club
The Welwyn Garden Concert Club was founded in 1944 by Dorothy Hess, an esteemed piano teacher in the town. Not only had she many friends and acquaintances of renown in the chamber music world who were willing to come to play, but she had a talent for discovering young artists of great musical ability whose fees were still within the Club’s means. As far as possible, this is a practice the Club has aimed to continue; indeed, we gave the world-renowned Takacs String Quartet their second engagement in this country.
Over the years many other famous musicians have played to the Club, including Kathleen Ferrier, Oda Slobosdskaya, Reginald Kell, Francis Poulenc, Paul Tortellier, Peter Pears, Janet Baker, Gerald Moore, the Amadeus String Quartet, Ginette Neveu and many others.
For many of the early years we had a long list of potential members whom we could not accommodate. Our concert venues have changed from a local restaurant, a college hall, the tiered theatre at Campus West, to St Francis Church.
From its inception the Club has presented music of variety in instrumentation and programming, the aim always being to arrange first-class chamber music recitals for the people of Welwyn Garden City and the surrounding area.
Welwyn Garden Concert Club Today
We believe, with some confidence, that the Club would still be recognisable over seventy years later by its founder. Each year we arrange a series of six chamber music recitals which take place between October and May. After many years at Campus West the Concerts have been held in St Francis Church on Parkway in the centre of Welwyn Garden City since 2016. This new venue offers exciting new possibilities with its wonderful acoustic and a grand piano on site.
The Club has become a registered charity and continues to be run by a committee elected annually by the season ticket holders at the annual general meeting. The committee members are in effect the trustees of the charity. All season ticket holders are encouraged to take an active part in the running of the Club. Normally each year two coach outings are arranged for the benefit of all ticket holders to concerts at one of the major concert venues in London.
We are fortunate to have two distinguished musicians as the Club’s Patron and President. They are respectively Nicholas Daniel, the oboist and conductor, and Andrew Watkinson, member of the Endellion Quartet, violinist and conductor.
The Club is grateful for the support it has received from a number of external organisations which have enabled us to engage high quality professional artists, many with international reputations. Previous supporters of the Club include the John Lewis Partnership, Welwyn Hatfield Council, Roche Products, Cereal Partners, and Kane International. Sponsors are currently being sought for our future seasons in order to continue this rich tradition, and we would be delighted to hear from anyone with offers or suggestions of funding.
Artists who have played at the Club in recent seasons include the Vogler String Quartet, O Duo, the Endellion String Quartet, the Wihan Quartet, Ashley Wass, Thomas Carroll, Nicholas Daniel, Julius Drake, Julian Bliss, the Kungsbacka Piano Trio, Guy Johnston, Mark Padmore and Roger Vignoles.