The Master’s Newsletter, June 2020

Dear Member,

The lockdown has at long last begun to relax in some areas, but unfortunately not yet for the arts in general, and for music in particular, with no dates, tentative or fixed, for the resumption of even a socially distanced concert or operatic life (if such a thing is even possible).

The one consolation is technology, and musicians’ grasping of every technological advance to bring music to us in our homes, even if we cannot enjoy it in the concert hall or theatre. Over the last few weeks, there has been an extraordinary stream of musical richness, from the daily transmissions from the Met, Glyndebourne, Covent Garden, the Wigmore Hall, and so many others at home and abroad, too numerous to mention. While it does not make up for the thrill of live performance, it is an education, and a comfort, in what really are increasingly trying times (especially as the weather seems to have broken and we are back to the usual British summer: freezing and grey! Though I suppose the garden does need rain…).

I am delighted that the Musicians’ Company has been able to join the ranks of the organisations reaching out to their audiences, with the launch this week of our #MiddayMusic online concert series: concerts every Monday and Wednesday at 12.00 on the Company YouTube channel. The first concert, on 8 June, showed Yeoman Young Artist Dinara Klinton (piano) playing at the top of her form: a wonderful quarter of an hour of music-making, beautifully played and expertly and professionally presented. The second, with Jonathan Radford (saxophone), on 10 June, gave a master class in saxophone playing, accompanied by evocative images of French nineteenth century paintings.

Congratulations to all concerned: it is a series of which we can be very proud. Please tune in over the coming weeks, and hear the best of what the Company has to offer.

I am also delighted that this initiative seems to have struck a chord (with apologies for the pun) with the broader media: Rhinegold (Classical Music) ran our press release almost immediately and we have promises of further coverage. At a time when it is so vitally important to show that the arts really do matter, this is excellent news.

As you will know, the Lord Mayor has been sending regular newsletters and messages during the lockdown: I have now written to him to tell him what we are doing as a Company to maintain our charitable work, and to let him know of the new concert series. A copy of my letter to him is attached.

We continue with our meetings using Zoom: the Finance Committee on 16 June, Master and Wardens on 17 June and the next Court meeting on 8 July. We hope that by the time the summer is over, and the autumn series of Committees starts, we will be able to meet again in more conventional ways. I note, though, that the Sheriffs’ Ball, scheduled for 18 September, has just been cancelled, and the Turners’ Company competition “Wizardry in Wood”, due for October, will now be in 2021, which are not good signs for a rapid return to normality.

We had to cancel two sessions of Outreach at the Merton Dementia Hub (although we honoured the commitment to pay the Yeomen who would have performed) but I am happy to say that the Hub has now developed the use of Zoom technology, so starting with the Outreach on 16 June, the Yeomen will be playing for the Hub’s clients using Zoom. Playing live, with technology which, while marvellous, can bring slight slips in synchronisation, will be a challenge: but it is one which all the Yeomen we have booked for the series are willing and happy to try to surmount. I am much looking forward to hearing the results.

On a sadder note, I am sure that many of you will have seen that Lady Christie (Mary) passed away last week at the age of 83. Given the very close relationship we have enjoyed with Glyndebourne over so many years, I have sent a personal, handwritten letter to Gus Christie expressing sincere condolences both on my own behalf and on behalf of the Company and its Members.

Please keep well, and let us hope that the summer will bring some much needed changes in circumstances.

All the best


John Nichols