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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?

Hexthorpe 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.

Hexthorpe School, circa 1951.

Hans Gal 1925

Hans Gal

Leon Coates

And what links these faces to our web site?

Hans 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, I think.  

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.

Stychfields Hall, Stafford 1992

Stychfields Hall Stafford 1992

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.

I 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 .

Stychfields Hall, Stafford 1993

Something a 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 Ellis's influence. 
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?

Perhaps this is a good time to mention a performance of Handel's Messiah (not written till 1742!) - at Colwich Church near Hannah.

Four scores of Hannah Ellis of Batley
Mendelsshohn: St Paul,   Mendelssohn: Lobgesang,   Haydn: The Creation,   Elgar: King Olaf

Remembering 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.

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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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            Mrs Jaffett:   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              Dove: Deborah Greenhalgh
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, Derek Harper
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: Lynn Dutton
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.

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LIST of
PERFORMERS

This 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! 

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Gaetano PUGNANI b. 1731

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Giovanni Battista VIOTTI b. 1753

pupil of PUGNANI

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Charles Auguste de BERIOT b. 1802

pupil of VIOTTI

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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

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Henryk WIENIAWSKI

- equally famous Polish Violinist, Composer and Teacher, 1835 -1880.

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Eugène YSAYE born 1858 Liège, renowned Belgian soloist and teacher, a pupil of VIEUXTEMPS and WIENIAWSKI

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Maurice RASKIN  born 1906 (left) pupil of Eugène YSAYE (and friend of Heitor VILLA-LOBOS) professor at Brussels Conservatoire.

 

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Louis CARUS born 1927

- studied Brussels Conservatoire and Peabody Conservatoire Baltimore

Taught Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama

(later Principal, Birmingham Conservatoire)

 

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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.)

 

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Alison GIFFIN born 1961

studied wth Kerry MILAN at Staffordshire CSPTYM then at Cardiff with Simon WEINMANN

Macie Wallis

Macie Wallis born 2001

pupil of Alison EVANS, accepted at Chetham's Specialist Music School, Manchester 2014.

April 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.

And 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 anything.

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.

Stafford Music Centre - youth hostelling

Stafford Music Centre - youth hostelling

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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 not obtained
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

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Hotel Metropole: the '31 bar', October 2014

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.

What 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 on   www.doctorgabs.net [EXTERNAL]

Our own "Metropole" site can be accessed from the Caroline Sings link, <<below>>; or go straight from here: <<Metropole site>> [EXTERNAL] 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>>

Julian Hellaby and Caroline Milan at the recording studios

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The Colwich MESSIAH - December 15th 2014: Kerry Milan, Emily Milan, Patrick Park, Sean Omer.

CSPTYM choir rehearsal 1986 conducted by Mike Revell

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 environment.

Talent School ensemble working with Dominic Aldiss

The Suzuki visit to London in 1971

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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.

The following year, 1972, the Suzuki UK tour covered five venues in five days - Southampton, Bristol, Stafford, Winsford Cheshire and Manchester.

Four 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, Penny Ballard.

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.

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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 concerto brilliantly.

Who Else!!

Arnold Schoenberg Carol Ann Duffy - a Guardian photograph

Celebrating Times Past!

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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                                Here is a copy of the Make May Music 1980 programme

Lesley Park who sadly died on August 16th 2017
Lesley Park at Stychfields in 1989

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 period costume.
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.