8 July 2021

The Elgar Society pays tribute to Joyce Kennedy

Joyce Kennedy, widow of journalist and music critic, the late Michael Kennedy, has passed away at the age of 88.  Born in 1933, Joyce studied medicine at the University of Manchester Medical School, becoming an anaesthetist and later a GP in Salford.  Micheal and Joyce met in 1976, only marrying in 1999 after the death of Michael’s first wife, Eslyn, who had suffered for many years from multiple sclerosis. 

The couple co-authored books on the lives of both Richard Strauss and Benjamin Britten adding a history of the Buxton Festival in 2004.  In 1980 Michael and Joyce added the Oxford Dictionary of Music to their joint collaborations.  Among her other publications, in 2008 she published Who Married Figaro? A Book of Opera Characters.  in 2001, together with her husband she founded the Joyce and Michael Kennedy award for the singing of Richard Strauss.

Joyce was a loyal member of the North West branch, where she will be remembered as an enthusiastic Elgarian and throughout the Elgar Society for both her charm and commitment to Elgar’s music.  She will be greatly missed.

13 June 2021

Society past President honoured

Julian Lloyd Webber, past President and current Vice-President of the Society, has been honoured in the Queen’s Birthday honours list with the OBE for services to music.  On hearing the news, Stuart Freed, Acting Chairman of the Society said, “The Elgar Society is delighted that Julian’s contribution to British musical life has been recognised in this way.  His support for British music, including that of Elgar, has been tireless and has helped to raise its profile both here and overseas.  On behalf of the whole Society, I would like to  congratulate him on this well deserved honour.”

1 May 2021

Anthony Payne passes away aged 82

Elgarians the world over will mourn the passing of composer, critic and author Anthony Payne.  As a composer of a wide range of music that includes solo works, choral, orchestral and wind band music together with works for solo voice and for chorus, Anthony Payne gained a worldwide reputation.  However, his most high profile project was the realisation of Elgar’s Third Symphony, a work that has been performed on numerous occasions since its first performance in 1998 and which has been recorded many times.  By sanctioning his realisation of the symphony, the Elgar family were able to ensure that Payne’s version became the first (and so far only) “completion” of the sketches left by Elgar and ensured that the work was entrusted to a committed Elgarian.  Anthony Payne was awarded the Elgar Society medal in 2011.

15 April 2021

A New Chairman for the Society

Due to personal reasons, the Chairman of the Society, Neil Mantle, has decided to step down from the position as the 2021 AGM.  The Council of the Society has agreed that Vice-Chairman, Stuart Freed, will become the acting Chairman until elections can be held at the 2022 AGM.  The 2021 AGM will be invited to endorse this proposal. Stuart is a long standing member of the Council and Executive, in his role as Vice-Chairman of the Society and prior to this as Chairman of the Southern Branch.  

On accepting the acting chairmanship, Stuart paid tribute to the outgoing Chairman, saying, “I feel sure that I speak for the entire society when I say that in his two years as Chairman, Neil has led the Society through what has proved to be its most challenging period, bringing to the role vast performing expertise and the lightest of touches when chairing both Council and Executive meetings.  He will be greatly missed.” 

13 September 2020

The Elgar Society marks the passing of Barry Collett

With the death of Barry Collett, the Society has lost one of its greatest supporters, contributors and devoted Elgarians. Barry contributed to the Society’s first Newsletter in 1973 and a perceptive review of a recent CD released by Barry will appear in the next edition of the Journal. Not only did Barry support the Society in this way for 47 years he also served on the committee/council, was a stalwart of the East Midlands Branch and was instrumental in making ‘Elgar in Performance’ the vital source of support for performance and recordings that it has since become.

However, Barry’s proudest achievement was as director of the Rutland Sinfonia. With this devoted band of musicians Barry conducted virtually every note that Elgar wrote for orchestra over the years he was at the helm. In addition, with the late Andrew Lyle, he was instrumental in drawing together the music for the SOMM release ‘Music for Powick Asylum’. For years Barry had promoted this music and making this recording gave him enormous pleasure as did his contribution to the double CD ‘The Hills of Dreamland’ (SOMM) where he accompanied Nathalie de Montmollin in eleven of Elgar’s songs for piano.

A full tribute will appear in the next issue of the Society’s News but, in the meantime, we send our condolences to Barry’s widow Pauline.

30 June 2020

Meetings go on line

On 20 June 2020 the Elgar Society presented its first ever virtual meeting in response to the corner virus pandemic.

All Society members were invited to view a specially compiled presentation entitled “Elgar and the Gramophone”. It was written and presented by Peter Newble, who played many of Elgar’s original recordings, interspersing them with pictures, film and a commentary explaining how the technology developed prior to and during Elgar’s recording career and the background to many of the records he made. Following the presentation, Peter fielded questions from members who were able to log in to a question and answer session.

Not only did this new initiative enable members across the UK to meet electronically, if not in person, but also allowed overseas members to join what may have been their first ever Elgar Society meeting.



Due to the success of the event, the Society is planning a short series of on line meetings to run whilst the current emergency continues. These will be announced as they become available and should there be a demand, the Society will consider extending the programme to run alongside regular branch meetings.

18 April 2020

Adrian Brown becomes the latest recipient of the Elgar Medal

On 8 March 2020, following a performance of his realisation of Elgar’s Symphony No.3, Anthony Payne presented the Elgar Medal to Adrian Brown on behalf of the Society. Presenting the Medal, Anthony cited Adrian’s, “….structural command [of the music he conducts], for example, of the complexities that characterise Elgar’s grandest works, his intense identification with the composer’s emotions, and his ability to navigate them”.

Accepting the award, Adrian explained that he came to love [Elgar], “both through his studies at the [Royal] Academy and also, by visiting Worcester and the Birthplace, through being able to earth the music in the surroundings of its composition.”

23 March 2020

Lani Spahr becomes an Honorary Member

Long standing member of the Elgar Society, Lani Spahr, has been awarded Honorary Membership of the Society in recognition of his pioneering work in the restoration and discovery of  historic archive recordings. Lani writes, “I’m deeply honoured to be awarded this membership. It means a lot to me that Elgar’s recorded heritage, not only by him but his contemporaries, is highly valued. I continue to find previously unknown performances that shed great light on Elgar’s works from around the world. Hopefully I can continue to have the support of record labels to make these recordings available to Elgarians everywhere.”

8 March 2020

The Elgar Festival 2020 Cancelled

Due to current health concerns, the organisers of the Elgar Festival have cancelled the 2020 events.  Dr. Adrian Gregson, chairman of the Festival committee writes:

am writing with the not unexpected news that this year’s Elgar Festival at the end of May is being cancelled due to the serious health situation we all find ourselves in.  Government and health guidance aside, our main priority has to be the safety of our audiences and our performers, and this clearly means that events such as this Festival must not go ahead.  Please be assured that we will spend the time in our homes, making exciting plans for the future of the Festival including May/June 2021.


1 December 2019

A new addition to the Elgar Society website archive

For the first time the contents of the pre-1999 Elgar Society Newsletter/Journal booklets are available on the Society website.  From 1977 until 1999 the Society issued a booklet three times each year, containing articles and news items, initially under the banner of the Elgar Society Newsletter and subsequently the Elgar Society Journal.  It is to be hoped that the articles contained in this archive will be of interest to both the casual reader and those engaged in academic research.

Access to these publication is through the Archive page of this site or this link Newsletter/Journal 1977-99.