I am so sad to hear that the conductor Tom Hammond died suddenly at the age of only 47, on December 27th 2021. He was the best kind of musician, a genuine and selfless lover of music, and widely knowledgeable. He conducted a number of good amateur orchestras, and it was always my hope that at some time a post with a professional orchestra would fall to his lot. With composer James Francis Brown and others he started and ran the Hertfordshire Festival of Music, which was gathering pace and reputation until the pandemic struck all music performances. He and John knew each other, and John thought highly of him. I managed a couple of visits to the Festival (one a concert in memory of John) and held Tom in great affection.
During the pandemic Tom undertook a number of zoom talks. One of the last of these was on the incidental music Sibelius wrote for a performance of The Tempest. I knew the Suites, recorded by Groves long ago, so was interested to listen in. Tom obviously knew the entire incidental music well - there is apparently much more than is found in the Suites - and we had quite an email conversation on the subject. He was hoping at some point to feature the music in concert.
I heard the sad news of Tom's sudden and untimely death via composer Matthew Taylor, who regarded Tom as perhaps his closest friend. Tom was likeable, friendly and generous, as well as gifted. He made the world a better place for his presence in it.