Austin Wootton (1930-2018)

It was with great sadness that we heard yesterday that our dear friend Austin Wootton passed away on Friday. Austin was one of the longest serving performers at UMCM, with a beautiful baritone voice, and was an inspiration to us all. His performances were always deeply moving and he offered everyone else his personal support to feel confident to perform to their highest ability.

Austin’s very special rendition of Gorney and Harburg’s Buddy Can You Spare A Dime was charged by his life story with his memory of his father coming to Coventry to work on the war reparations.

Austin was a modest and very tender man who loved the romantic songs and their stories. He will be greatly missed and we are all thinking of his family and of the wonderful moments that we were lucky to share with him.

Austin at Earlsdon Park Village
Austin at Earlsdon Park Village, 2017

Austin at Treehouse
Cowboy songs at the Treehouse Bookshop, 2016

St John the Baptist
At St John the Baptist Peace concert, 2017

Austin at St Johns cafe
In the cafe at St. John’s, 2017

Austin Earth Concert
At the Earth concert, 2013


Born Free

Buddy Can You Spare A Dime

Christmas Concert

UMCM would like to congratulate everyone who took part in or helped to organise the Christmas concert last night. It was a wonderful evening with a full and lively audience and we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening. We will post more here during the week including pictures.

Christmas concert

UMCM’s next concert is a Christmas Carol concert on Saturday December 8th at Earlsdon Park Village, Albany Rd, Coventry CV5 6JQ, starting at 7pm. Expect Christmas carols and songs famous and obscure, fresh faces and old favourites, and lots of fun. Dress festively if you like and warm up your voices!

Cabaret and Chips please!

A cabaret style concert with hot food during the interval was shared between the musicians of UMCM and the group Between Us. The event was thoroughly enjoyed by the performers and by the excellent turnout of people watching and indeed singing along. Thank you to our hosts Sacred Heart Church, Harefield Road, Coventry.

Secrets, Lies and Spies – result!

We all had a lovely time as anticipated at Earlsdon Park Village. We would like to thank everyone who took part and especially Mary for organising and hosting the event and Lizzie for accompanying most of the singers. We should be putting some pictures up fairly soon. Thanks and really well done to all of our perfomers, Mary, Chris, Bernadette, Steve, Sanjana, Patsy, Adam and Elizabeth, Zenith Harmony, and Lizzie, George who did the sound and lighting, everyone who helped set up and take down, and everyone who came to watch and listen. Next up – cabaret on November 3rd!

Secrets, lies and spies

UMCM are performing a concert tonight with the theme Secrets, Lies and Spies! We have made many new friends over recent months and many singers and players will be performing for us for the first time. In the best tradition of UMCM experienced performers will appear alongside improvers, some of whom have only trodden the boards once or twice before. So we are looking forward to a wonderful night including songs from James Bond and Lord of the Rings and lots of other exciting stuff! Please come along to the theatre at Earlsdon Park Village, Albany Rd, Coventry CV5 6JQ. Show starts at 7pm, tickets £5 and enjoy post-show pint or cuppa at the in-house bar.

Adiemus

UMCM members and friends are laying the ground work for performing Karl Jenkins’ Adiemus. We’ve got a decent sized choir already and plan to invite more people in. Rehearsals haven’t started yet but we’re already really looking forward to performing it. Exciting!!

Charitable Incorporated Organisation

UMCM has a current application to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). This is a new structure for charities (created in 2013) which gives a charity a legal “personality” and enhanced legal protection – thereby reducing potential risks to the organisation’s trustees, and enhances the organisation’s status by demonstrating that it has Charity Commission approval.

The process is being led by our treasurer Martin Griffiths and by the remainder of the management team.

Incorporating UMCM is one task we must complete for our own protection and to give confidence to supporters by showing UMCM is approved by the Commision. It will take a few months. I’ll put it into action and keep you informed.

Once this is achieved, or maybe during the process, we expect a new management team to emerge, as a number of our members have volunteered to take up new roles which will mean UMCM moving forward in quite an exciting way. Further announcements will be made in due course.

An extraordinary concert!

Following months of work and fundraising by UMCM, St John the Baptist Church and others the day finally came, Saturday June 23rd. Courtney Pianos have done incredible work in restoring the wonderful 1878 Bechstein piano and have brought out its beauty while preserving its antiquity. In the first concert since the restoration we were treated to an astonishing and breathtaking performance by Varvara Maggs of music by Liszt, Haydn, Prokofieff and an encore of short pieces by Tchaikowsky.

The event was attended by many dignitaries and guests including the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Mayor of Coventry, Coventry’s Lady Godiva, local councillors, and guests from Coventry Cathedral and other churches.

Afterwards there were refreshments prepared by church members with German wine generously donated by Phipps.

We would like to thank everyone involved for a very special evening.

BBC Radio 4 interviews

UMCM’s Martin Griffiths and Lizzie Perring were interviewed on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on Tuesday for their work in getting the Bechstein piano restored. The BBC were very enthusiastic and we hope they will follow up with the church in future months.

Bechstein comes home!

Our major project to achieve the restoration of the 1878 Bechstein grand piano in St John the Baptist Church, Coventry, has been successfully concluded! Courtney Pianos, Oxford delivered the fully restored instrument to St John’s on Wednesday 9th June. On hand were pianist Varvara Maggs, church staff including Father Dexter Bracey, and UMCM’s Martin Griffiths. Varvara immediately spent some time at the piano. Martin commented afterwards: “I can’t imagine that Bechstein #10855 ever looked so good as it does now when it came out of the factory in Berlin 170 years ago and I can’t believe anyone has ever played it so wonderfully as Varvara this afternoon”.

All that remains is the concert and celebration. The concert is of course on Saturday 23 June, starting at 7.00. Please don’t be late! And if you haven’t got a ticket yet, please click our link to EventBrite below. The concert is followed by various short talks and German wine in the hall, generously donated by Phipps.

We are all so excited for future music at St John the Baptist, and we hope and believe that the piano will be an exciting addition to Coventry’s heritage and culture and be the focus for many performances in this beautiful church, including some City of Culture events.

TWO concerts

UMCM have enjoyed not one but two very successful concerts recently, the first was our Spring “Everything Stops For Tea” concert at All Souls Church, Hearsall Common, on Saturday 26 May, and the second was our Summer Concert at Sacred Heart Church, Wyken, on Saturday 2 June. £363 raised for Christian Aid last week and £232 raised for church maintenance funds tonight. Congratulations to all those involved in both concerts.

Bechstein returns soon!

Exciting news – the repaired Bechstein piano is expected back at St John the Baptist this Wednesday, 6th June.

UMCM joins the Twitterverse!

UMCM have now started tweeting! Follow us on @UMCM2018.

New Bechstein restoration pictures

We have new pictures from Courtney Pianos of the Bechstein piano under restoration. These show the cleaned frame back in the repolished piano body.

Cleaned frame back in cabinet Cleaned frame back in cabinet, showing strings