The Master’s Newsletter, May 2016

Since I wrote to you at the end of January, much has happened within the Company.

Perhaps the most significant event was the Members’ Open Day on Monday 23rd May, which took place in the beautiful Foundling Museum in Brunswick Square. This Open Day was an opportunity for all of us to understand more about how the Company works and what it achieves both as a City livery company and in its charitable work. I am most grateful to all the speakers who prepared excellent sessions and also to our guest speaker, Kathryn McDowell CBE, DL, the Managing Director of the London Symphony Orchestra, who spoke on the planned new development of the City’s music provision and concert hall. We also enjoyed the performances and the company of some of our Yeomen (Catriona McDermid and the Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet) and I am grateful to them for spending the day with us and entering into the spirit of the occasion. Those members who were unable to attend this occasion should certainly make a point of visiting the Museum as both the research done there and the building itself are most interesting. Furthermore, as we all know, there is a strong connection with Handel and his very active support of the then Foundling Hospital.

Another major Company event since January was the Court and Livery Dinner on 13th April at the splendid Ironmongers’ Hall. Roger Wright CBE was the guest speaker and he spoke about his new work at Aldeburgh. We were also pleased to welcome his wife Rosie, Jean Rigby (the Santley Prize Winner) and her husband Jamie Hayes, John Holmes (the Chief Examiner of the ABRSM) and the Master of the Ironmongers, George Bastin. The arrangements at the Hall were excellent and members of the staff were extremely considerate and attentive. Needless to say, the dinner itself was fabulous and it was a great occasion, not least as some of our new Liverymen, clothed at the Court Meeting earlier in the day, were present.

At the Court Meeting earlier, we agreed the Accounts and also the budget for next year. We also received the minutes of various committee meetings since our January meeting and these included the Finance Committee, the PR Committee, the Concerts Committee, Brass Band Committee, Jazz Committee, the Pop Music Committee and the Livery Club Committee. I must pay tribute to the members of all our committees, and especially the chairmen, for their time, expertise and commitment which helps to drive the Company forward as well as to maintain focus on what the Company is all about. I have attended most of these committee meetings and I continue to be forever grateful to everyone involved for their enthusiasm and their concern to do the right thing for the Company.

Also at the Court Meeting, Hew Dundas and Dinah Nichols were made Freemen of the Company, Hywel Davies, Jonathan English, Dominic McGonigal, Richard Salter and Samantha Ward were made Liverymen and Jean Rigby was presented with her Santley Award. Sadly, Christopher Maltman, who also won the Santley Award this year, was unable to be present as was Steven Isserlis CBE, who has won the Cobbett Medal.

We were all greatly saddened by the death of our Honorary Freeman and Collard Life Fellow Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, CH, CBE. Max, who was well known to a number of us, was extremely proud to be so closely associated with the Company. His legacy as a composer is, of course, enormous but we shall much miss his magnetic personality and his important contribution to our national life.

The Yeoman programme continues to go from strength to strength under the leadership of Court Assistant John Nichols. John is supported by volunteers, 20 at the latest count, and we are very grateful to them all for everything they do, as it has made our aspirations a reality in terms of our Outreach work to schools and performance opportunities for Yeomen at festivals and concert series. Appearances by our Yeoman this year have already increased on the 2015 figure and the number of festivals wishing to be associated with us in this way is increasing all the time. To assist in the administration of much of this work, Katie Jones has joined the Clerk’s office on a part time basis with special responsibility for the Yeomen programme and the Biddy Baxter & John Hosier Music Trust matters and I warmly welcome her. So far this year, Yeomen have made 74 visits to 50 schools reaching 3,558 children, and 90 performance opportunities for Yeomen been arranged.

The Livery Club visit to HM Dockyard at Portsmouth on 13th to 14th May was a great success and Livery Club President Keith Maries deserves huge congratulations on a successful visit. I was, alas, only able to attend on the first day and the visit to the Royal Marines School of Music, which was most enjoyable for a large number of reasons. We were able to see all the facilities, hear the students rehearse and meet both them and members of staff. Reports confirm the success of the whole two day visit which included a visit to the D-Day Museum and a tour of the Dockyard. Members are looking forward to the planned visit to Keith’s alma mater, King’s College, Cambridge, on 25th June where we shall have the opportunity to see Liveryman Stephen Cleobury CBE in action with the Choir. Livery Club events are open to Freemen as well as Liverymen and I hope that both sections of the membership will attend in force.

Congratulations to Liveryman Paul Gobey who has been chosen to succeed Keith Maries as Livery Club President in September. I myself held this position some twelve years ago. Paul’s first occasion as President will be the Bach Cantata at the Priory Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great, Smithfield, on Friday 16th September followed by lunch: more from the Deputy Clerk on this at a later date.

There have been several other events in the City in which the Company has played a part. The United Guilds Service in St Paul’s Cathedral in March was one, when it was the turn of the Musicians’ Company Master to process with eleven other masters not of the Great Twelve. As usual, the Great Twelve processed ahead of the others and I, with the Master Upholder, led the other twelve companies in what was a splendid service. The Bishop of London preached an excellent sermon. In the evening before the Service, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress held a dinner for Masters, Prime Wardens and Upper Bailiff and their Consorts in the Mansion House, which was a glittering affair. In April, there was the Lord Mayor’s Big Curry Lunch in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, which was very successful and brilliantly organised by Liveryman Michael Hockney MBE. HRH Prince Henry of Wales was the Royal Guest and he spent a great deal of time meeting members of the Committee and others before the lunch itself. I was able to tell him about our support for young musicians, including those in the armed forces. Also in April, the Clerk and I were present in Guildhall Yard, and at the Reception in Guildhall afterwards, when the Blues and Royals and the Life Guards exercised their freedom to march through the City. The bands were in fine form and the mounted musicians displayed particular skill in playing and riding simultaneously. HRH The Princess Royal took the Salute and then joined us at the Reception.

I attended as a guest, with the Master’s Chaplain, in St Paul’s Cathedral, a concert celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Friends of Cathedral Music and the launch of their new fundraising project to further assist choristers in cathedrals and other major churches. I was also present and in the procession for the Service for the Sons and Friends of the Clergy, held at St Paul’s on 10th May. As usual there were three choirs, St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and the choirs of Birmingham and St Edmundsbury cathedrals. The Archbishop of Canterbury preached. I also attended, with the Clerk, on the Company’s behalf an Evensong at the Priory Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great, at which the Bishop of London preached, which was followed by a Reception in St Bartholomew’s Hospital on 11th May. This was a special occasion for me personally as I was Organist and Director of Music at this Church in the 1970s.

The Musicians’ Company concerts at the Wigmore Hall on 15th February and 11th April were truly excellent in every way. Firstly, the musicians performed brilliantly and the programmes, both curated by Liveryman Ian Ritchie, were not only fitting but extremely interesting and original. The size of audience for both of these concerts was much greater than before, and particularly of young people, and our thanks go to the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk who put in a great deal of work to make this happen. I understand that something called social media played a part in this: whatever it is, it is clearly a good thing as far as reaching young audiences is concerned. Our next Company Concert is on Tuesday 28th June at St John’s, Smith Square – please note the venue and the day of the week.

I was very pleased to chair the adjudication panel for The Prince’s Prize and I am grateful to Freeman Levon Chilingirian OBE and Liveryman and Steward Ben Pateman for joining me in this pleasant task. As you know, The Prince’s Prize, established to commemorate the Prince of Wales becoming an Honorary Freeman of the Company, is our top prize for which all our prize winners may aspire. The winner this year was the cellist Yoon-Kyung Cho but I must pay tribute to the other finalists, all who played magnificently. I was also involved in the judging, with Pastmaster Leslie East and the Clerk, of the Lambert Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, which was won by violinist Eunsley Park for a project based around the Mozart violin concertos, the composition of cadenzas and orchestral etiquette. The annual Harriet Cohen Prize, for the playing of Bach’s music on the piano, was held at the Royal Academy of Music in February and I was there to present the prize to the winner, Joanna Krause. Also at the Academy, I attended and presented the prizes, which the Company fund, to the winner of the RAM Brass Ensemble Prize, Westcombe Brass: Paul Bosworth (trumpet), Gwyn Owen (trumpet), Finlay Bain (horn), Tom Berry (trombone) and Joe Palmer (tuba) and the second place prize to a trombone quartet of Quinn Parker, Benny Vernon, Laura Agut and Frederick Ouellette. It is worth mentioning that both these annual events at the RAM are open to the general public and that members of the Musicians’ Company would be especially welcome to attend.

The Biddy Baxter & John Hosier Music Trust Committee met in February to choose this year’s recipient of its awards, which is now under the auspices of the Company, and Abel Selaocoe, a cellist from the Royal Northern College of Music, was chosen as the winner of the main award. Special awards were given to Clara Lafuente Garcia (oboe) from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Tamila Salimdjanova (piano) from the Royal College of Music.

On 1st March, the Dankworth Prize competition was held at Trinity Laban and we were generously hosted by the Principal, Freeman Professor Anthony Bowne. The Big Band prize went to composer Matthew Read and the Small Band prize to composer Billy Marrows. It was good to see members of the Dankworth family there to present the prizes. Swiftly moving on to the next day, 2nd March, auditions to select prize winners for next year’s Company concerts were held at the Wigmore Hall under the chairmanship of Liveryman Peter Hewitt. The result of these auditions was that the following were awarded concerts in our 2016/17 season, all of which will take place at the Wigmore Hall: Jamal Aliyev (cello); Charlotte Ashton (flute); the Barbican String Quartet; Nicholas Mogg (baritone) and Jâms Coleman (piano); Emily Sun (violin); and Jonathan Radford (saxophone).

I have represented the Company at a large number of events since my last letter to you. I attended a concert at the Royal Festival Hall by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and was shown much courtesy and hospitality. I also attended a Memorial Evensong in memory of the late Liveryman John Scott LVO in St John’s College, Cambridge in early February and a Service of Thanksgiving in St Paul’s Cathedral on 6th May. I have also represented the Company at functions, mostly lunches and dinners, which were most generously hosted by the Stationers’ Company, the Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Company, the Gunmakers’ Company at Proof House, the Armourers’ and Braziers’ Company, the Cordwainers’ Company of which our own Pastmaster John Rubinstein is Master, the Chartered Surveyors’ Company, the Tallow Chandlers’ Company, the Parish Clerks’ Company, the Gold and Silver Wyre Drawers’ Company, the Watermen and Lightermen’s Company, the Blacksmiths’ Company at the Mansion House and a personal invitation from Christopher Gower, formerly Organist and Master of the Choristers at Peterborough Cathedral, to the Plaisterers’ Company. I was also present at a Reception in aid of the London Youth Choir, in which Pastmasters Leslie East and Andrew Parmley are involved, at St Stephen’s, Walbrook. In Cambridge, I have been invited as Master of the Musicians’ Company to the Foundation Feast at Sidney Sussex College, the Framlingham Feast at Pembroke College and will attend the Mary Magdalene Feast at Magdalene College in July. The Clerk represented the Company at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the competition and presentation of their Gold Medal.

We now look forward to the Midsummer Banquet at Fishmongers’ Hall on Wednesday 22nd June and I look forward to seeing as many Liverymen as are able to attend. We shall be joined by the baritone and broadcaster Brian Kay who will be our guest speaker. I am pleased to add that The Ducasse Trio have also kindly agreed to perform for us that evening.

Finally, I should like to thank the Wardens, Sir Roger Gifford and Lady Brewer, for their generous support to me personally and also the Court for their valuable work and their commitment to the Company. I would also like to pay tribute to the Clerk and the Deputy Clerk for their hard work for and devotion to the Company, which never fails to impress me. We are extremely fortunate to have such a great team working on our behalf.

25th May 2016