Just about a year ago I penned a News item entitled Old Year, New Year. Little did I know, when I wrote, just how little time John and I had left together. With shocking suddenness, some six weeks later, he was dead. The story of his last six months, and the haphazard end-of-life care he received has still to be written. My grief at his loss has burned deep inside me. But my memories of the kindness, sympathy and solicitude shown to me, and the love and respect shown to John’s memory, are heart-warming. So many cards, letters and emails were sent, I could hardly respond, and wonderful concerts, or performances within concerts, have been given in his memory, with still more to come. It is almost invidious to mention some, in case I inadvertently leave out others, or fear to make too long a list.
Among the highlights have been these –
John Woolf and the Park Lane Group put on a marvellous Memorial Concert on the South Bank, with present and past PLG Young Artists. The City of Canterbury Chamber Choir put on another in Faversham, Kent, with new works written in John’s memory by David Matthews, Cecilia McDowall, Robert Saxton, Deborah Pritchard and Thomas Hyde. This concert raised £1500 for the charity Brain Tumour Research, and the choir plans to do another Memorial Concert in July this year. The Presteigne Festival, with which John had long been associated, put on several works. BBC Radio 3 broadcast numerous performances of John’s work, as composer and as pianist, and there were also two programmes of his music on the splendid Australian classical station, Fine Music.
Works were also performed in Manchester (BBCPO), Hitchin (Hitchin Symphony Orchestra), Hereford (Raphael Wallfisch), Buxton (Northern Chamber Orchestra), Ware (Hertford SO), London (OJSS, London Chamber Choir, Kensington SO), while the Ensemble Epomeo performed his String Trio, here and in N. America. There were also many marvellous articles and obituaries, and thanks to Somm Recordings, piano recordings of Nielsen and Grieg piano music were reissued, while another recording is due out on ASC. Memorial concerts continue in 2016. At the end of January there will be the splendid Festival of Brass at the Royal Northern College of Music, at which five of John’s brass band works will be performed (more about this in another News item). Two concerts in February at Luton Music Club remember John, and there is also a performance in Glasgow by the BBCSSO. The City Music Society remembers John in March, as does the RNCM Brass Band in Manchester, at Bridgewater Hall. Next October, at the William Alwyn Festival in Southwold, there will be more works performed written in memory of John, by various composer friends, including John Joubert.
My thanks to you all, and thanks also to those whose acts of kindness and remembrance have been unknown to me, or which have not been mentioned in this necessarily short list.
© Monica McCabe, January 5th 2016