This photograph was taken in the early 1930s
when my father was at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Can anyone identify some of the others present, or date the picture for us, please?
Junior Mixed School Doncaster c. 1951 - showing just how successful the West Riding's
peripatetic instrumental service was after the war. Some 22 violinists on stage
from one small, fairly working class primary school would be even more impressive
today! Kerry Milan is on stage, just to the right of the conductor's hand. Can
anyone name some of the other children, please? I'm afraid I've temporarily
forgotten my teacher's name. The music adviser of course was William Appleby and the head
of the peripatetic team was a Mr Goodman if I remember correctly.
|And what links these faces to our web site?
Gal was born in Vienna in 1890. The latter part of his life was spent in Edinburgh
and he died there in 1987. He was a prolific composer and I recall his attending a
concert at which we were performing one of his works - 'we' being the Glasgow String
Orchestra, which Adrian Secchi had founded in 1956 - rehearsals I remember being in Cecil
Street, off Great Western Road. This concert must have been around 1959 and by coincidence
I shortly afterwards played alongside his daughter, in the Edinburgh Rehearsal Orchestra,
In 1934 Gal composed his "Lyrical Suite on Robert Browning's
dramatic poem Pippa Passes", for soprano, flute and string
quartet. One of its earliest performances was in Vienna in May 1936, and it
was performed there again in October 1997, but nearer to home the work was played in
Edinburgh in 1987, with George Gwilt the flautist and the Edinburgh Quartet, with soprano
Francesca Green. (The text is a translation into German by Helene Scheu-Riesz.)
Also in 1987 Francesca sang Gals' Fünf Lieder, op.33,
accompanied by Leon Coates, again in Edinburgh.
Back in 1964 Leon, I and cellist Ann Morris had formed a piano
trio taking Beethoven and Schubert etc to Staffordshire schools and music groups, and
among our contacts then was a young solicitor Reg. Browning - the very same who forty five
years later would be the stimulus for the composition of my own Five Songs of Asolo, from Pippa
Passes, which Yvonne Howard and the English Piano Trio have recently
recorded for Ardross House.
|At a time when the Public Sector
is under so much pressure, and when the Arts and Music within Education are facing such
damaging cuts, these photographs (1992) look back just twenty years to a more optimistic
age when Stafford Music Centre and the Friends of Staffordshire Young Musicians staged
"A Grand Music and Dance Spectacular" featuring the Middle and High Schools of
Stafford and Stone. The two concerts, at 5.15 and 8.00 pm, featured different
schools and different music ensembles; but in each case the finale was the Galop from Act
3 of Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach, with the brilliant dancers provided
by Alleynes High School, Stone.
|Just a year later saw "A
Musical Extravanga - The Poetry of Motion" this time in partnership
with eleven primary and middle schools. On this occasion the finale was Richard
Sherman and Robert Sherman's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
had the huge privilege of conducting these exciting and inspirational performances in a
venue now sadly lost, English Electric / GEC's impressive Stychfields Hall in
Stafford. Never let us forget what is possible if we care enough about the Arts and
what is lost for a generation if we don't .
little different this time! Hannah Elizabeth ELLIS
was born in Batley, Yorkshire, in 1872, and four of her scores have pride of place in my
Library. Which Yorkshire choir did she sing with, say in the 1890s or 1900s?
Perhaps someone looking at these scores (an Elijah too) might be
able match them with old programmes of the era. Wouldn't it be lovely if a programme
still exists with Hannah's name among the performers!
I'm sure that my father studying singing at the
Royal Academy of Music was a direct result of his mother's love of music. And so my
own life in music must, passed down through my father, also be partly thanks to Hannah
And where did Hannah find her encouragement and inspiration?
All of which nicely ties in the world of music with
our family tree research - the latest venture looking at the ELLIS background in the
Nidderdale area of Yorkshire over seven generations, back to the Richard ELLIS who married
Sara DAWSON at Spofforth on May 10th 1704. Their first daughter Sarah would marry in
1725 at York Minster.
A splendid affair, no doubt. And what music I wounder did the bride chose?
Mendelsshohn: St Paul, Mendelssohn: Lobgesang, Haydn: The
Creation, Elgar: King Olaf
Benjamin Britten in the year of his centenary.
The "Affinities" violin and piano sonata,
mentioned above, is full of music in five beats per bar. I well remember my first
encounter with this 'odd' time signature, when I was one of the string quartet
accompanying The Little Sweep in Britten's Let's Make An Opera, sometime
in the 1950s. Sadly I cannot now recall the venue; but it was probably when I
was at school near Glasgow - so either somewhere in Renfrewshire or Ayrshire.
Twenty odd years later it was my turn to introduce
children to Britten's music, when in charge of Staffordshire's Rugeley Music Centre. Now,
in 2013, everything about LEA provision is denigrated; but in 1977 it all seemed to work
so well, and Noye's Fludde at St Augustine's Church in Rugeley was a fine
demonstration of what is possible when all the schools within an area can be brought
together, here the three secondary schools Aelfgar, Fairoak and Hagley Park and many of
the surrounding feeder schools. There were nearly 80 animals/birds and over 50
children in the string orchestra. I have listed the soloists below, and all others
mentioned in the programme are included in the accompanying pdf file.
Noye: Donald Templeton
Mrs Noye: Jill Bennet
The voice of God: Roy Harvey
Sem: Timothy Harvey Jaffett:
Paul Broomhead Ham: Matthew Boyd
Mrs Sem: Vicky Bird
Joy Houldcroft Mrs Ham: Susan Bradbury
Mrs Noye's Gossips: Carolyn O'Brien, Andrea Smith, Marie Horobin, Carol
Young, Elaine Wilson, Linda Pratt, Pauline Hill, Cartina Axten, Trudy James, Kerry
Collier, Caroline James.
Waves: Children of Nursery Fields Primary School
Raven: Janet Bradley and Denise Gell
Solo Treble Recorder: Linda Hicks Piano: Gary Churchill, Alan
Williams, Elizabeth Taylor
Organ: Eric Bennett Timpani: Brian Thurlow
String Quintet: Mary Barker, Peter Davey, Jeremy Dutton, Judi Sutton,
Choreography: Mrs V.M. Towlson (Principal, Rugeley Studio of Dancing)
Cover and Poster: John Harvey
Repetiteur: J.C.P. Taylor Choir:
Mrs M.E. Taylor and Mrs R. Bottom
Costumes: Janet Huang Property man: William Hewitt
Set Design and Construction: L. O'Brien
Musical Conductor: Kerry E. Milan
Producer: Sheila Harvey
Our thanks to: County Music Adviser: J.W.R. Taylor Recorders:
Handbells: Alan Hodges Vicar, St Augustine's Church
Headmaster, Aelfgar: D.N. Langton
All headteachers and their staffs for support and assistance in many ways
Colwich Church for the use of their handbells
Mary Roberts and D. Fincher of Bridgnorth for the use of their handbells.
interesting feature has been prompted by the delightful news from one of my ex-pupils,
Alison, that one of her own pupils, Macie Wallis, has recently been accepted by Chetham's
Specialist Music School in Manchester.
Pace George Bernard Shaw, many of
the very best perfomers have felt it important to pass on to the next generation the
skills and experience they themselves had acquired from their own teachers. What a
pedigree this new young promising violinist can boast!
Gaetano PUGNANI b. 1731
Giovanni Battista VIOTTI
pupil of PUGNANI
Charles Auguste de BERIOT
pupil of VIOTTI
Henri VIEUXTEMPS famous Belgian Violinist,
Composer and Teacher, 1820 - 1881
- pupil of de BERIOT and very much part of
the early days of the Franco-Belgian Violin School centred on Brussels Conservatoire
- equally famous Polish Violinist,
Composer and Teacher, 1835 -1880.
Eugène YSAYE born 1858 Liège, renowned
Belgian soloist and teacher, a pupil of VIEUXTEMPS and WIENIAWSKI
Maurice RASKIN born 1906 (left)
pupil of Eugène YSAYE (and friend of Heitor VILLA-LOBOS) professor at Brussels
Louis CARUS born 1927
- studied Brussels Conservatoire and
Peabody Conservatoire Baltimore
Taught Royal Scottish Academy of Music and
(later Principal, Birmingham
Kerry MILAN born 1942
studied with Louis Carus at RSAMD
and Maurice Raskin in Brussels.
Taught for Staffordshire Music Service and
headed the county's school for its potentially talented young musicians.
|Here I should like to list my
other two teachers, who do not fit into this direct line but who taught me a lot:
Jean RENNIE Scottish violinist, born Paisley in 1920? who was
leader of the Scottish National Orchestra in the 1950s.
David MARTIN, born 1911 in Winnipeg, a much loved
performer and teacher in London. (He and Frederick GRINKE played the Bach Double
Violin Concerto at the funeral of Ralph Vaughan Williams.)
Alison GIFFIN born 1961
studied wth Kerry MILAN at Staffordshire
CSPTYM then at Cardiff with Simon WEINMANN
Macie Wallis born 2001
pupil of Alison EVANS, accepted at Chetham's
Specialist Music School, Manchester 2014.
This new contribution to the Photo Gallery has been prompted by the news that the
government has now decided that local authorities should no longer fund music, visual and
performing arts services. Heaven help us.
we shall be told that this will be to improve provision. Heaven help us.
An earlier photograph (above) shows how
successful local education authority provision could be over sixty years ago (with me
aged about nine in Doncaster, West Riding) and if as a country we could afford it
then we can certainly afford it now. Heaven help us.
These two light-hearted photographs are from the
eighties. Stafford Music Centre had an enthusiastic and dedicated 'Friends' support
group - a kind of PTA - and on top of all the usual concerts / festival activities we had
annual youth hostelling weekends - and no, I don't think they cost the County Council
Oh, and in case you're wondering about quality - just
looking at my own school pupils, I have recordings of The Lark Ascending and the
first movement of the Beethoven, accompanied by the staff orchestra. A golden age
indeed. But very soon it will all be forgotten, as though a life-time away.
Heaven help us.
This striking and flattering photograph was taken
a year of two back! by friend and colleague Darrell Wade during a
break from rehearsals at the Victoria Hall, Hanley.
|Apologies that as yet I have
a photograph of Ian Gleaves.
A few years later, in fact exactly forty years ago, pianist and lecturer
Ian Gleaves and I were just a few hundred yards along the road from the Victoria Hall at
the BBC studios doing recordings for two Listen In programmes
produced by Ken Hopwood. There were three sonatas, the Handel in G minor, Brahms is
A opus 100 and the César Franck.
What seems incredible to me, looking back, is that
all three works were recorded together on the same afternoon, in one take, as if capturing
a live performance. Nowadays we might have been able to ask to 'do that bit again'; but,
the odd slip notwithstanding, it was still a very worthwhile experience.
To give just a flavour of the day here are two
excerpts from our last movement of the Franck, as used in a film made to celebrate our
Golden Wedding. Aaahh! <<Franck
mp3 file >>
Remembering Doctor Gabs
The Metropole Hotel, Brussels
|In 1998 when we were
staying at the beautiful Metropole Hotel in Brussels resident pianist Doctor Gabs
was joined by our daughter-in-law Caroline Milan for some delightful after-dinner
entertainment which thrilled all those present and which was the direct inspiration for
the song "Metropole", composed just days later.
a strange co-incidence that when we visited again in October 2014 we learnt that just the
day before our arrival there had been a Tribute Jazz Evening - "The master is gone
..." held in Brussels to celebrate a wonderful versatile musician whose sudden death
had shocked everyone. His daughter Imelda Gabs carries on the tradition - see more
|Our own "Metropole"
site can be accessed from the Caroline Sings link, <<below>>; or go straight from here: <<Metropole
site>> You can listen to the song itself
immediately, though, with our mp3 file featuring Caroline Milan and
pianist Julian Hellaby, whose improvised spot Doctor Gabs would surely
have applauded! <<Metropole mp3 file>>
The Colwich MESSIAH - December
15th 2014: Kerry Milan, Emily Milan, Patrick Park,
Staffordshire School for
Potentially Talented Young Musicians - 1986.
1986 - almost a different world. Mrs Thatcher
was Prime Minister. Local education authorities themselves provided some wonderful
music provision, in schools, in music centres and in county youth ensembles. And
this in turn helped identify a generation of particularly talented youngsters who were
given further tuition, not just on their instruments, but in aural, keyboard harmony,
history, composition, chamber ensembles, recital platform and as seen here 'choir
practice'! Mike Revell is conducting, and staff members Lesley Park, Roy (AR)
Wightman and I are also in the picture. Darrell Wade (not seen here) was another
longstanding member of our tutorial staff.
In 1986 we had nineteen students meeting every
Thursday evening, working in three groups:
seniors: Gwyneth Ellis, Deborah Kemp,
Michael Murfin, Lee Nichols, Clarence Parnell, Richard Wade
intermediate: Neil Aston, Gavin Brooke, Harriet Edgar, Helen Jones, Susan
Kitchen, Rosalind White
juniors: David Beaman, Damion Browne, Simon Browne, Patrick Heatherley, Jonathan
Kitchen, David Shipley, Jonathan Smith
As well as their regular concerts, the children also
took part in chamber competitions and ensemble workshops, with Louis Carus among our
visiting guests. Here below you can see nine of the children working with Dominic
Aldiss, the brilliant jazz musician, orchestral conductor and arranger. (The
audience was made up of instrumental teachers.)
What a shame if all this is lost in the name of
"Austerity". Sadly, many people now have absolutely no idea how must has
been lost, or how much state-educated children can achieve, given the right nurturing
The Suzuki visit to London in 1971
I am sitting in the front row at the left of this photograph.
Immediately behind are two Staffordshire colleagues, to the left as we look Nora
Dunn, and to the right Kay Smith. When I joined
Staffordshire CC Music Department in 1964 Nora and Kay were already long established
members of the peripatetic team.
following year, 1972, the Suzuki UK tour covered five venues in five days - Southampton,
Bristol, Stafford, Winsford Cheshire and Manchester.
days later they were in New York, then London Ontario, then playing in Carnegie Hall
before the start of a hectic tour round the United States and Canada.
The children were:
Akihiro Miura (11 years old)
Tae Lizima (11 years old)
Shizuka Nakamura (10 years old)
Kyoko Ueda (12 years old)
Akiko Ueda (7 years old)
Okikazu Yokoyama (7 years old)
Yumi Higuchi (6 years old)
Ayumi Ohashi (6 years old)
Tomoyuki Nomura (cello) 12 years old
Siezo Azuma (piano) (10 years old)
The little girl on the left here was one of my own Suzuki pupils,
The Suzuki children impressed everyone greatly, though we were
apt to modify the approach, so that reading was introduced, in my case, after a year. Paul
Rolland also had a lasting effect on many teachers in Great Britain.
But the impact of these first Suzuki children to this country
cannot be overstated. Akihiro and Okikazu, along with one of the instructors Yoshiko
Nakajima, stayed with my family so we heard them at close quarters.
Following an afternoon workshop there followed an
evening performance at which Akihiro, who had certainly not looked at the piece before
hand, came on stage and performed, by memory of course, the last movement of the Bruch
Celebrating Times Past!
For many of us, who have lived through better
times, before the full force of Austerity took its toll, foolish tears
are again hard to keep back. In 1980 the small Staffordshire town of Rugeley had a
week of music making involving the local Music Centre, the parish church of
St Augustine and the three secondary schools, Aelfgar, Fairoak and Hagley Park. One
of the many groups taking part was the Fairoak Victorian Ensemble, whose members
were Dawn Mace, Sue Bradbury, Joy Houldcroft, Mrs Jill Bennett, Simon Copley, Timothy
Harvey and Sue Tatlow.
There were a lot of children taking part, and
although the aim of the music service was essentially to provide as many children as
possible with a love of music that they would continue to enjoy into adulthood, it
is heartwarming to realise that for a considerable minority of these students music would
in time become a professional passion. For many more, though, it has proved to be a
rewarding and fulfilling pastime well into adulthood - and long may it continue.
Here is a full list of Performers
is a copy of the Make May Music 1980 programme
Lesley Park who sadly died on August 16th 2017
Lesley Park was one of our dearest friends
and for many years a close colleague. In 1989 Stafford Music Centre was celebrating
the centenary of the County Council and we held two special Stychfield Hall concerts in
In the background are members of Lesley's splendid Music Centre choir. Lesley is
about to lead the audience in a performance of My Old Man said 'foller' the van complete
with 'I followed on wiv me old cock linnet'.
She was always so enthusiastic and so fully committed to whatever she undertook and we
shall miss her greatly.
The very first photographin this photo gallery came with a request for any information that might
help date the occasion and perhaps identify some of the Royal Academy of Music
students. Searching through old documents recently I came across a page in one of
them where a photograph had clearly been removed - the photographs were not printed on to
the pages but stuck on separately after printing.
: pages from the 1935 programme - pdf format, just click
Here it is, and it makes fascinating reading, the
programme for the Royal Academy of Music's opera production for 1935, The
Mastersingers, conducted by John Barbirolli. A young Myers Foggin was one of
the rehearsal accompanists. My father sang the role of Ulrich Eisslinger.
As a string player, though, there is a special
interest in seeing the names of all the orchestral players. Robert Masters joined
the Academy in 1933 at the age of sixteen and he is here sitting near the back of the
seconds. At the back of the cellos notice a young Muriel Taylor. Four years
later, in 1939, Robert Masters would go on to found his piano quartet with Kinloch
Anderson, Muriel Taylor and Nannie Jamieson (1904-1990) on viola. It was
Nannie who set up the memorial fund when her young friend Muriel Taylor died in 1970 (the
same year as John Barbirolli). I did not know Robert Masters (1917 - 2014); but
Nannie was the first Organising Secretary for ESTA (UK) founded just a year or two before I joined in 1976, and I sat
in a number of happy meetings with her.
When our family moved to Glasgow in 1953 my father
asked Barbirolli to recommend a teacher for me there; for of course before moving to the
Halle John Barbirolli had himself been in Glasgow with the Scottish (National) Orchestra.
And so it was that I became the SNO leader Jean Rennie's only pupil! She was
rightly very popular with Glasgow audiences, not least perhaps because she was a local
girl, from nearby Paisley. I still remember Jean as soloist in the St Andrews Hall,
playing the two Beethoven Romances with the orchestra. And I still have and treasure
much of her old music!
So thank you, Sir John. Father never said how
he came to know you.
There are so many names listed in this 1935
programme. Do look, and hopefully it will trigger a few more forgotten
memories. The classical music world is a small one, and if any two musicians meet
they will almost certainly find they have shared memories or friends in common.
Dr Roy Wightman
was born in Stafford but has strong Scottish family connections. He is a private
teacher and educational author and was for many years a member of staff for the County of
Staffordshire's school for talented young musicians and an A level examiner. He is also a
pianist, organist, concert soloist and chamber recitalist (a member of the Chiarina Piano
Trio). In the academic world, his research into the life and works of Karol Szymanowski
has met with international acclaim, and his books include Szymanowski His Life and Work
1999, Routledge, Szymanowski on Music,1999, Toccata Press, Volume 1, 1902-1919
Szymanowskis Correspondence and most recently Szymanowskis King
Roger, 2015, Boydell and Brewer, with its foreward by Sir Antonio Pappano. In
2016 he received the prize of the Karol Szymanowski Society for making the composers
work better known outside Poland.
Mike Revell (referred to in the Preface to A Rapture Suite)
What a coincidence that just weeks after the Donauwellen
Waltz arrangement for strings was added to the Stringsters pagethis photograph should turn up
among some old documents I was browsing through - for this is the very ensemble for which
the arrangement was made, back in 1991, when peripatetic string staff from my part of
Staffordshire were touring local schools with a "Strings and Things" concert
programme. (Jeremy Dutton's "thing" is a Stroh violin!)
From left to right this happy band reads:
Patrick Park, Jeremy Dutton, Jonathan Hills, Peter
Foulkes, Julie Stubbs (cello), Celia Smith, Kerry Milan, Frances Lewis, Ron Large, Nigel
Stubbs, Karen Smith, Alan Brown and Terry Carter.
This photograph takes us back over a hundred
years, and is included here now at a time when our theatres and concert halls are so
desperately hit by the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Freda Hooper and great-uncle Stanley were
passionate Doncaster performers, among other things both members of "The
Nobodies" troupe, a 1919 programme describing them as "The Original
I was taken aback recently to realise that it is
now over ten years since the Affinities Violin / Piano Sonata
was recorded -
at All Saints Church East Finchley, in July 2010, by recording engineer Michael Ponder.
And what a really splendid performance by Jane
Faulkner and Steinway pianist Timothy Ravenscroft.
The work is highly demanding, especially the third movement Scherzando; but as
you can hear from this recording it is played brilliantly, the music bubbling and
sparkling with a delightful playfulness, which makes light of the technical demands.
I recall my dear departed teacher Louis Carus,
writing from back in Glasgow to congratulate me on the work (finished in 2008) - but then
adding 'why did you have to make it so hard?!' I suspect it was this movement
to which he was referring, with its challenging mix of 5/8 and 5/4 time signatures.
I remember my first ever experience of quintuple time, back in the 50s, when as a
schoolboy I played my violin in a performance at Ayr of Britten's Let's Make
an Opera - "swee -ee-eep - 4 - 5" still going through my
For the Scherzando tempo marking I
had indicated a rather cautious quaver = 250, i.e. each 5/8 bar = 50; but for the
recording I can still hear Tim Ravenscroft saying to Jane "shall we give him it
a bit faster?" and amazingly the music flies along with complete abandon at no less
that 58. I find it breath-taking and if ever a recording deserved to be named
'recording of the year' it should have been this!
<<Play the Scherzando>>
(For further information on the complete
sonata,see the section