As implied by our name, the players who go to make up Impromptu change depending on the occasion. We are all prominent members of local orchestras, who play in concerts throughout the area. Some of the most regular performers of recent years are shown below:
Ben Jones studied the violin for several years with Clarence Myerscough, renowned virtuoso and head of strings at the Royal Academy. While at school, where he was top music scholar, he led Thanet Youth Orchestra (with Janet Evans as his co-leader) and joined Kent County Youth Orchestra on tours of America and Italy, where he was selected to play in a Festival Youth Orchestra directed by Claudio Abbado. Having nevertheless decided not to pursue music as a profession, Ben won a scholarship to Oxford and proceeded to become a professional translator, interpreter and publisher. Music is however a major part of his life, as in recent years he has led Thanet Light Orchestra, Thanet Chamber Orchestra, East Kent Sinfonia, Canterbury Orchestra, Bradstow Symphony Orchestra, the Medics and Scientists Music Ensemble, and the orchestras for Ramsgate Operatic Society and East Bridge Chorale, as well as being organist & Director of Music at St Nicholas-at-Wade church. He has performed frequently in Canterbury Cathedral (including some of its various organs for wedding and other services, and a chamber concert as part of Canterbury Festival). In addition, he is frequently called in on a freelance basis for most of the orchestras and choral societies in East Kent (some listed at LinkedIn), and is in demand as a chamber music player, organist, and accompanist for professional singers. Ben used to direct the Chamber Strings group at Thanet Music Centre, and was both Secretary and Instrumental Convenor of Thanet Music Festival. His musical tastes are wide, as you can tell from his 2021 Innocent Ear radio broadcast.
Janet Evans has always lived in Thanet and been an active member of local music events for many years. She studied for a Graduate Honours degree at the Royal Academy of Music from 1982-1985, learning piano with Ruth Harte and violin with Sophie Langdon. She comes from a musical family and is the third generation to acquire the LRAM piano teaching qualification after her mother and grandmother. Since 1984 she has worked at St Lawrence College teaching piano and violin, and during this time has always maintained her own private teaching practice. She encourages her own pupils to perform regularly, providing concerts for them to perform in and encourages them to take part in local music festivals. She currently enjoys playing with the Thanet Light Orchestra, Ramsgate Operatic Society and the Impromptu Ensemble. Over recent years she has also played with the Oare String Orchestra, Sandwich Sinfonia, Revelation Strings and City of Canterbury Sinfonia.
Lyn Parker first studied the violin with Elsie Smith, who had an Aladdin's cave of instruments and a large picture of David Oistrakh to remind pupils that all you had to do was to try to play like him. Lyn took up the viola in his teens, and has played both instruments interchangeably ever since. As a wandering diplomat, he has led viola sections in amateur orchestras in the UK, Greece, India, Belgium, Cyprus and Holland, and has played string quartets in freezing churches, on sunlit Greek islands and during monsoon storms. He now plays whenever he can in the even more exotic surroundings of London and Kent.
Born into a musical family — his father George conducted Thanet Light Orchestra for 43 years, and mother Pam was a leading soprano in Ramsgate Operatic Society — Charlie started the 'cello comparatively late, but soon joined the Kent County Youth Orchestra, including their foreign tours, and went on to study it together with the piano at college in London. He then joined the BBC Symphony Orchestra, only leaving upon his retirement 34 years later. One highlight he recalls is some impromptu jazz busking with a certain Nigel Kennedy… In addition to playing and teaching, Charlie enjoys composing and arranging music, both classical and jazz, and has won awards for his works, some of which are privately published through his "Skordion Press" venture. All of this leaves little time for his other pursuits, which range from long-distance running through to astronomy and collecting regional German banknotes from the hyperinflation period.
Ute Bühler took a degree in professional church music – a course of study that focuses on playing the organ and conducting/leading both church choirs and chamber orchestras, as well as singing, piano playing, harmonising hymns (both on paper and at the organ), composition and musicology. In addition to playing for church services every Sunday since the age of 13, she directed two church choirs, a children's choir and a male voice choir. However, the cello was always her secret love because of its manly sound and great passion (her instrument is called 'Tiger'), and she started playing it at age 12, becoming cellist at the Collegium Musicum in Ulm which gave her the opportunity to play frequently as the continuo cellist for Bach Cantatas and Oratorios in the huge Ulm Minster. Upon coming to Britain through her work as a professional chemist, she became principal cellist at the Canterbury Orchestra and then Thanet Light Orchestra, as well as performing regularly as a soloist and with local chamber groups, an activity she has enjoyed since she was 15. She also worked with Ramsgate Operatic Society as both rehearsal pianist and pit orchestra cellist. She led the cello section at the yearly Dover Proms, playing the famous "Tom Bowling" cello solo in the British sea songs. Participating regularly in international chamber music seminars, she also did a masterclass with George Georgescu in Florence, in 2006. In 2012 however her work took her to Basel and despite immediately being invited to join the local chemists' orchestra (!), it has meant that her opportunities to perform with the Impromptu Ensemble have been curtailed since then.
A sadly-missed, long-standing member of Impromptu, George was one of the foremost players of his generation, being principal viola of the LSO, a permanent member of the Haffner Quartet and a popular session musician, who recorded with artists such as Frank Sinatra, Barbara Dickson, Cliff Richard, Kate Bush, David Essex, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lulu, Petula Clark, Max Bygraves, Richard Bonynge, Rick Astley and Tom Jones. He died in September 2010, and the George Turnlund Memorial Fund was set up in his memory to encourage young players to gain experience playing with professionals such as the Impromptu Ensemble.
We love working with talented vocalists — often introduced to us by the bride or concert organizer. Here are a few we've worked with:
Marina Ivanova, for a wedding in Goodnestone
Jo Sharp, for a wedding at Quex Park. Photo by John Sainsbury wedding photography.
Donna McKevitt, for a concert in Ramsgate
Other musicians who have played with Impromptu less regularly over the years include: Rosie Banks-Francis, Steve 'Beast' Ansell, Jane Browne, Jeremy Brooker, Adrian Smith, Julius Bannister, Pam Turnlund, Peter Aviss, Amanda Wyatt, George Simpson, Julie Peat, Sarah Boxall, Heather Nunn, Miles Attwell, Michael Schlamm, Wendy Smith, John Gallagher, Tony Whitehurst, Helena Millard, Fiona Worledge, Jane Walker, Denise Coe, Annette Dyer, Aaron Hope, Nicci Whitaker, Graham West, Camilla Titterton, Joanna Saul, Sarah Thorpe, Evelyn Shoults, Penny Roberts, Joyce Edling, Amelia Parker, John Wilkinson, Clara Jones, Andrew Deacon, Jocelyn Emptage, Julia Challender, Caro Wilkinson, Noriko Jones, John Postlethwaite, Mike Brewer, Paul Ainsworth, Margaret Noble, Jasmin Ebrahimi, Mark Taylor and Lindsay Duffield.
Some of these play regularly with groups such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), Maidstone Symphony Orchestra, Becker Ensemble, Kent Concert Orchestra, Hauschka Ensemble, Ringlemere Ensemble, Chapel Quartet, Hot Chocolate, and the other ensembles mentioned above, as well as on a freelance basis with groups such as the Coleridge Quartet, Vuillaume String Quartet, City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, and ad-hoc groups accompanying Sittingbourne Orpheus Choral Society, Whitstable Choral Society, the Deal & Walmer Handelian Society, Bradstow Singers, etc.
Battling the wind at an East Kent wedding — halfway through, we had to relocate around the corner! Photo courtesy of Lily Lane Photography.