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Music society facing threat of closure moves to Clonter

Holmes Chapel Music Society has said it is “delighted” to announce that its 50th season of concerts will be held at Clonter Opera Theatre.

However, it may be the cash-strapped society’s last season.

Holmes Chapel Music Society chair Jane Perrins said: “Clonter is a beautiful venue, with first-class facilities for the first-class musicians playing at our concerts.

“This will allow us to celebrate our 50th season – a truly memorable achievement – in appropriate surroundings.

“We have had over 40 happy years at the leisure centre in Holmes Chapel, which has brilliant acoustics, and enjoyed wonderful support from the staff there. However, the restrictions around covid have prompted us to move out to Clonter because of the extra facilities and space there in case we need to employ social-distancing measures at our concerts.

“Moreover, it makes obvious sense that the two major music promoters in the area should join forces.”

The two organisations also have a family connection: the mezzo-soprano, Betty Bannerman, mother of Clonter’s founder Jeffery Lockett was the vice-president of Holmes Chapel Music Society from its earliest years until her death in 1992.

Isabella Lockett, of the Clonter Farm Music Trust, said: “There has always been co-operation, and tremendous mutual respect, between Clonter and HCMS – we have much the same aims, and several members in common, and we have always supported each other.

“We are over the moon to join forces with the music society. It brings another genre of music – chamber music – to Clonter, widening what we are able to offer our audience and presenting the very highest quality of musicianship.”

Unfortunately, this may also be the final season for the music society. “After the restrictions of the past months, we are determined to hold 10 wonderful concerts to celebrate the 50 years,” explained Ms Perrins, “but this might well deplete our coffers to the extent that we have to call a halt.

“I am hopeful that the music society will continue in some form or other, provided that there are enough enthusiastic volunteers who want to bring the best chamber musicians to our corner of Cheshire.

“We are producing a booklet to celebrate the 50 years – it is quite a story!”

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