25 July 2017

Richard Smith receives the Certificate Merit

The retiring editor of the Elgar Society News has received the Society’s Certificate of Merit.  At a time when the production of the News was threatened Richard, together with Ernie Kay, agreed to take over the publication not as editor, but as compiler, until such times as a new editor could be found.  Under this joint stewardship, the News has flourished and, once again, become the membership’s main source of information about the wider activities of the Society.  Although he has relinquished his responsibilities relating tenth News, Richard will continue in his role as secretary of the West Midlands Branch.

13 June 2017

Chris Bennet awarded the Certificate of Merit

Anyone who knows the Elgar Birthplace Museum will have come across Chris Bennett. After many years of service, Chris has decided to move on in order to explore other avenues. His advice and encyclopaedic knowledge of all matters Elgarian will be sorely missed. However, he will not lose contact with the Elgar community and will still be available to lend his considerable experience when called upon. To mark his departure from the Birthplace, the Society has awarded him its Certificate of Merit in recognition of his extraordinary service to the Elgarian cause. The presentation was made in the Chapter House of Worcester Cathedral by Steven Halls, Chairman of the Society.

12 June 2017

Presentation at St. George’s, Worcester

During the concert of Elgar’s Church Music given by Elgar Voices, directed by Donald Hunt and in the presence of the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, a signed photograph of Sir Edward Elgar bequeathed to the Society by Mr Colin Rhys Parry Jones, was presented to Father Brian McGinley, Priest of St. George’s, by Stuart Freed, Vice-Chairman of the Society.

“When this item was bequeathed to the Society,” said Mr. Freed, “the Council had no hesitation in suggesting that it be found a home in the place in which Elgar made his first public appearances and which was undoubtedly his spiritual home.”

The concert was dedicated to the memory of Samuel Driver White and was held to launch Dr. Hunt’s newly published edition of Elgar’s Church Music.

23 March 2017

Geoff Scargill receives the Certificate of Merit

Geoff Scargill, until recently Chairman of the North West Branch, Executive member and Chairman of the Branch Chairmen’s committee, has been awarded the Society’s Certificate of Merit for his unstinting contribution to the Society and its work.

Over many years, Geoff has given of his time in order to ensure that the Society continues to thrive, particularly in areas where interest in Elgar and his music was either in danger of neglect or was in need of development. Due to his support new branches have been set up and some existing branches have been saved from extinction, both benefiting from his support and guidance. Most recently, Geoff has been a great supporter of and prime mover in establishing a Society affiliate in Germany which is now thriving and helping to encourage both performance and a better understanding of Elgar’s music. Many members will have enjoyed the trips that he organised to Germany.

Geoff continues to serve on the Council of the Society.

31 January 2017

Alexander Walker and Teresa Cahill are awarded the Elgar Medal

Two new recipients of the Society’s Medal have been announced and will be presented later this year.

Conductor Alexander Walker has been a champion of British music and Elgar in particular over many years, performing his music both in the UK and in places as far flung as Belarus, Russia, Poland and Turkey. This year his schedule includes the Enigma Variations in Leatherhead, the Starlight Express in Abingdon and Symphony No.2 in Romania. The Elgar Society is delighted to recognise his contribution to the appreciation of Elgar’s music particularly overseas.

Soprano Teresa Cahill has been a firm supporter of the music of Edward Elgar for many years. Over a long and distinguished career, she has performed the widest possible range of his music in concert, broadcasts and on record. In so doing she has shared the stage with such well known Elgarians as Richard Lewis, Vernon Handley and Sir Alexander Gibson. This award represents a long overdue recognition of her outstanding work and commitment to Elgar’s music.

24 April 2016

The Society recognises the Philomusica.

The Philomusica of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire has become the latest recipient of the Elgar Society’s Certificate of Merit.

Since its formation in 1966, the Philhamusica has built a steady reputation in the local area for high quality choral performance and an outstanding record in the performance of the music of Edward Elgar, performing every one of his choral works, with the exception of The Black Knight.

Society Vice-Chaiman Stuart Freed presented the award on the occasion of the Philomusica’s 1000th concert, during which The Music Makers was performed, saying that the Certificate is awarded in recognition of outstanding commitment to the promotion of the life and works of Edward Elgar and continued, “I am sure that you would all agree, that to have so distinguished and far reaching a performing record as does the Philomusica, fulfils this criterion in as a full a way as anyone may wish”.

Accepting the Certificate on behalf of the Philomusica, conductor Linda Parsons commented that this award is something that will be treasured by the Phlomusica, going on to say, “ I am pleased to be living after the era of Elgar, because it allows me to have performed his music, which those who came before him could not have known”.

A concert featuring The Black Knight is planned for the not too distant future, enabling this the Philomusica to declare a “full house”.

12 October 2015

The Elgar Society welcomes Tasmin Little as its newest Vice-President

The Elgar Society is proud to announce that violinist Tasmin Little has become its latest Vice-President.

Ms Little’s commitment to English music in general and Elgar’s music in particular has delighted audiences both in the UK and worldwide and has helped to introduce it to new audiences both here and abroad. Her new recording of Elgar’s Violin Concerto together with Sir Colin Davis and the Royal NationalScottish Orchestra has gained much critical acclaim and was the Critics’ Choice Award at the 2011 Classic Brit awards.

On being made Vice-President, Ms Little said,“I am delighted and honoured to have been appointed Vice President of the Elgar Society.  Elgar has occupied an exceptionally special place in my heart and his music is a constant source of inspiration.  I have given over 70 performances of his searingly beautiful Violin Concerto, 60 performances of his Violin Sonata, I have recorded both works and given many performances of his delightful bonbons, such as Salut d’Amour.   I am greatly looking forward to being a part of this distinguished Society and to continuing to celebrate and perform his widely admired output of compositions.”

6 October 2015

A tribute to Sir David Willcocks

Long standing Vice-President of the Elgar Society, Sir David Willcocks, passed away at the age of 95 on 17th September 2015.

Perhaps best remembered as the director of the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge and the Nine Lessons and Carols service on Christmas Eve, Sir David also directed the Bach Choir, was principal conductor of the Three Choirs Festival on three occasions during the nineteen fifties and was conductor of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. During the 1970s he became director of the Royal College of Music. Sir David’s musical career was interrupted during the Second World War, when he served in the British Army, earning the Military Cross for his actions on 15th February 1941.

David Willcocks collaborated with many composers including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett and performed with many British Orchestras including the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the Philharmonia and the LSO, making many memorable recordings. Among his many roles within music, he was also a noted editor, organist and composer.

He was created a Knight Bachelor in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Honours.

In 1957 David Willcocks contributed to “Edward Elgar Centenary Sketches”, a book published by Novello commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edward Elgar. Although contentious in many ways, his contribution, entitled “A Modern View” contains the following paragraph:

“That Elgar’s music should have held its place in the cathedrals, concert halls and recital rooms of this country as it has done during the last thirty years is proof, if proof were required, of the abiding value of his best works.”

David Willcocks’ work as a choral director and trainer, writer, conductor and teacher is proof, if proof were required, of the abiding value of his best works.

7 September 2015

An Elgar World Premier

Swedish conductor Andreas Hanson and the Bjørsvik Brass will perform Elgar’s Severn Suite in its original form in an edition prepared by Dr. John Pickard

This original version will have its world premiere on Sunday September 13th 2015 with the Norwegian brass ensemble Bjørsvik Brass, conducted by Andreas Hanson. This new edition contains Elgar’s original work, stripped of the changes and instrumentation added by Henry Geehl, which were included in the first performance of the music in 1930 at the Crystal Palace.

20 January 2015

The Elgar Society mourns the loss of Carl Newton

The last months of 2014 brought more than their fair share of deaths in Elgarian circles, but none who had made such a contribution to the Elgar Society as Carl Newton, who died on Boxing Day 2014 after a long fight against leukaemia. An archivist and records manager by profession, Carl fought to bring the disciplines of his profession to the Elgar Society, a far from easy task in an organisation of factions often pulling the Society in different directions. He also served as the Society’s honorary archivist for many years, collecting and organising the Society’s disparate documents into a coherent account now placed into the safekeeping of the Worcestershire Records Office.

While this drive to instil discipline placed Carl within what many considered to be the ‘awkard’ squad, there was no doubting Carl’s loyalty to the Society, to do what was best for it and thereby to improve it, whatever others might think. While his ‘points of order’, contributions to committee meetings and Annual General Meetings for which he became renowned, were not always well targeted, there is no denying that they were always well intentioned. While his proposal of a Research Register, aimed at avoiding duplication of effort and providing support for researchers into Elgar’s life and music, never really took hold, that was perhaps predictable in an organisation of individuals pursuing their own interests as a hobby, but the idea was sound.

Despite being a regular correspondent to the Society Journal’s letters pages, Carl was in many ways a rather private person. He refused to make mischief of his first name, ‘Surr’ (a family name), and few knew that he had been an Executive Vice President of the International Records Management Council from 1984 to 1988, the Visiting Professor of Archives at the University of Northumbria, and honoured as ‘Records Manager of the Year 1999’. His marriage on his 78th birthday to the engaging Kathie seemed to be a match made in heaven but sadly, after only six months of enthusiastic travelling, he was diagnosed with leukaemia and his strength gradually diminished. He will be sadly missed.