About the Commemoration Weekend
Peter Tranchell was a figure of major, if not always uncontroversial, importance in Cambridge music from his arrival back from active service to resume his degree studies at King’s in 1946 (becoming Musical Director of Footlights and Music Critic for Varsity in that year) until his retirement from Caius and the Music Faculty in 1989. Appointed Director of Studies in Music at Caius in 1959 (Precentor in 1962), his influence on successive generations of Caius musicians lasted thirty years and over that period he amassed a large following of devoted admirers and friends. Over a hundred were able to attend one or more of the events of the Commemoration held in Cambridge on 24 and 25 September 2005, close to the twelfth anniversary of his death. The proceedings began with a concert of a selection of his music in West Road on Saturday afternoon (see the Concert Programme below), followed by dinner in Hall; the celebrations finished on Sunday morning with Choral Mattins in Chapel.
There was enthusiastic performing support from a wide spectrum of Caian musicians, ranging from James Gibson (1944), through a succession of Organ Scholars – Martin Neary (1958), John West (1963), Norman Harper (1970), Trevor Blease (1978), Francesca Massey (2002) and Thomas Hewitt Jones (2003) – and Choral Exhibitioners: Roderic Keating (1960), Peter Brice (1962), Alan Opie (1963) Alex Kidgell (1999); to the current Caius Choir under Geoffrey Webber. Not only did the Choir sing Grace at dinner and lead Sunday Mattins, but they gave a dazzling performance of Peter’s ‘madrigals’ Five Thackeray Ditties, written for the University Madrigal Society in 1962. This was almost certainly the first complete performance and their rich harmonic language opened the concert to great effect.
The spectrum of performers was echoed by the spectrum of Peter’s music, though sadly there was not a suitable platform for any of his ‘after dinner’ cabaret songs – many dating from his years with Footlights, others suitable only for private performance in A3 (with the windows closed “because I don’t want the Dean to learn the words”). We heard a further example of his serious music in the closing scene of his 1951 opera The Mayor of Casterbridge, which made such an impression on those who saw it at the Arts Theatre in its original Festival of Britain context or at the 1959 revival. As a contrast in style there were three numbers from Zuleika, the musical comedy based on the Beerbohm novel, which had sparkled so brightly at its Cambridge premiere in 1954 but suffered a series of misfortunes on its way to its later London run at the Saville Theatre, conducted by a young Charles Mackerras.
After Peter’s election to a Fellowship in 1960 his compositional activities developed a more domestic focus. As well as continuing the succession of concert entertainments for undergraduate performance, he wrote part songs for secular use and a vast amount of liturgical music for chapel. We heard four examples of the former genre at the concert, performed by the ‘Chorus Caianorum’ (a motley collection of many generations of Caian singers, ably supported when required by the upper voices of the current choir): two songs, and two examples of newspaper cuttings set to psalm chants. Peter was entranced by stories of eccentric goings-on found in provincial newspapers, and he often extemporised songs for himself from a sheaf of cuttings. For a sample of an ‘entertainment’ we had two songs from His First Mayweek, first performed at St Catharine’s in 1963.
As Peter Marchbank wrote in his note for the programme he constructed, the availability of performers meant that none of the extraordinary range of Peter’s instrumental works could be heard, apart from several of his organ pieces played on Sunday morning by organ scholars past and present. The most substantial piece, the Sonata written for Peter le Huray in 1958, has also been played by Norman Harper in recent recitals at Westminster Abbey, King’s College, and in Germany. The choral highlight was the festal Te Deum in E written for the 1975 Annual Gathering Commemoration of Benefactors. The choir demonstrated it had lost none of the versatility of that era when two Choral Exhibitioners stepped out of the stalls and took up their violins – a choir just as adaptable but musically rather superior, thirty years on.
More than 120 sat down to dinner on the Saturday evening, and it is unlikely that the Carmen Caianorum has ever been sung with quite so much gusto. John Gwinnell had mounted an excellent exhibition of Tranchell memorabilia in the Combination Rooms, derived from research for his forthcoming biography, and there was much fascinating material.
It is a mark of the respect and affection people felt for Peter that so many managed to attend all or part of the weekend’s events. One former Choral Exhibitioner flew in from Arizona, others came from Germany and Switzerland. It was also good to see, on Sunday morning, Peter’s oldest surviving close friend Lord Kennet, who as The Hon. Wayland Young had been (at Trinity) a contemporary for Peter’s first, pre-Army year as an undergraduate at King’s. Wayland Young was the first of the very select few of Peter’s friends who could hold his own extemporising two-piano music with him. Elizabeth Jane Howard, another friend from the war years, was able to attend the whole weekend.
The event was initiated and supported by Peter’s two Executors, Dr John West (1963) and Dr Chris Henshall (1972), but the vast bulk of the detailed organisation was admirably carried out by Peter Marchbank (1961) with John Gwinnell providing technical support and advice with outstanding expertise and good humour. Thanks are also due to the Syndics of the University Library, who as copyright-owners gave permission for the reproduction and performance of Peter’s works. They (and the performers) have also given their consent for the production of a souvenir CD of some of the musical highlights of the weekend.
John Gwinnell and Chris Henshall
[The Concert Programme booklet at this point included an extract from one of Peter Tranchell's own CVs - we have published this separately in this post: 'PAT by PAT'.
Concert: Saturday 24th September 2005 at 4.00
West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
Music by Peter Tranchell
Thackeray Ditties (1962)
A Tragic Story
The King on the Tower
To a Very Old Woman
Choir of Gonville and Caius College
Director, Geoffrey Webber
Closing Scene: The Mayor of Casterbridge (1951)
Henchard: Alan Opie (baritone)
Elizabeth-Jane: Alex Kidgell (soprano)
Whittle: Roderic Keating (tenor)
James Gibson and Thomas Hewitt Jones (pianos)
Songs from “Zuleika” (1954)
Someday he may
The Kind of Man for me
Alex Kidgell (soprano)
Martin Neary (piano)
Group of Part-songs
Christmas Shopping (SATB)
Once there was a bridegroom
Seven bullocks escaped
The dog that sat (ATBarBB) (1967, rev.1976)
Chorus Caianorum, conducted by John West
Music from “His First Mayweek” (1963)
Hadrian built a villa anyone’d envy
Alan Opie (baritone)
Just a toothbrush and pyjamas
Peter Brice (baritone)
Edward Pick & Geoffrey Weaver (pianos)
conducted by John West
The aim of this concert is to show as widely as possible the breadth of Peter Tranchell’s composing career whilst using only those performers who have volunteered to come today. Since Peter’s main contact with College life was through the Chapel Choir, it so happens that most of the people who have offered to perform are singers. So, the concert is built around Peter’s music for the voice. Sadly, this means that we shall not have the opportunity of hearing some of his wonderful instrumental music: the Friendly Grotesques for piano duet or the delightful Sonatina for flute and piano nor any of the pieces that Peter composed Tor piano in his own wonderfully idiosyncratic style. We get a flavour of that style in the piano parts of His First Mayweek in which Peter played the First Piano when it was performed in 1964. It would be wonderful to hear again some of his ensemble music: the Calypso and Waltz, composed for the opening of this Concert Hall in 1984, or the Movements for flute, bassoon, viola, harpsichord and piano composed in 1987, one of his last works, which appear to be bursting with wit and musical invention. While the Royal Ballet is unlikely to bring back again Images of Love which they premiered in 1964 and revived in April 2003, it would be encouraging if some of the younger Caian conductors would take up his Festive Overture or the Concerto Grosso both of which are entertaining to musicians and audiences alike.
The Five Thackeray Ditties were composed for the Cambridge University Madrigal Society and their conductor, Raymond Leppard, for their May Week Concert on the Backs in 1962. The programme lists only two of the Ditties being scheduled on that occasion and Leppard has no recollection of the others being sung in his time. It may well be that this is the first performance of the full set. Although entertaining for the listener, the music is difficult for the performers with the choir frequently dividing into eight or more parts.
Peter was a member of Cambridge Footlights for many years as performer, writer and composer. Many of his early songs are written in a cabaret style and so it was inevitable that he should eventually get round to composing a musical. He took as his story Max Beerbohm’s novella, Zuleika Dobson, about the beautiful girl who took Oxford by storm, leaving in her wake a trail of broken hearts. Following its production at the ADC in 1954, it was taken up professionally and a national tour led to a brief London season with the young Peter Hall the short-lived initial director and Charles Mackerras as conductor. Hollywood beckoned but, as so often, nothing materialised and Zuleika became a distant memory, though mention of it still brings a smile to the faces of those who were involved with it.
From letters from PAT to his parents:
8 March 62 ... My madrigals have earned me several bouquets from members of the Society who have already started rehearsing them. They aim to perform them at their Mayweek concert in the open air, on the river.
9 July 1962 [The Madrigal Society] did three of the five settings from punts to a crowd of some 5000 on the banks. These went extremely well, were deliciously sung, and earned me many bouquets; though at the time I was amongst the 5,000, a humble listener, & could scarcely have taken a curtain-call or bow, save by walking on the water!
The story so far: Michael Henchard, a young and impulsive hay-trusser, gets so drunk at a country fair that he sells his wife Susan and baby daughter Elizabeth Jane for five guineas to a sailor called Newson. Susan marries Newson who, she believes, dies at sea. Twenty years later she and her daughter return to find Henchard, now a prosperous corn-merchant and Mayor of Casterbridge.
He re-marries Susan. After she dies he tells Elizabeth Jane that he is her father (as he believes); she is bewildered. Then he reads in a letter left by Susan that his own daughter had died and this second Elizabeth Jane is Newson’s. He does not tell her this. He misjudges the weather, buys and sells corn at the wrong times, and is soon bankrupt. Donald Farfrae, formerly his foreman and friend, deals shrewdly, and finally takes over Henchard’s business and house.
Newson had not died; he finds Henchard in Casterbridge and asks after his daughter. Unable to bear the thought of losing her, Henchard says she is dead. When she gets a letter from a man asking to meet her, saying he had once been tricked, Henchard’s worst fears are realised. He knows he must leave Casterbridge and asks her to promise not to forget him.
Elizabeth meets Newson at Farfrae’s house — she and Farfrae are to be married. When Newson tells her that Henchard had said she was dead she knows she has to forget him. Farfrae invites Newson to the wedding. Henchard departs, but decides to return to Casterbridge on the afternoon of the wedding; unobserved he watches Elizabeth and Farfrae dancing. Abel Whittle had once been Henchard’s apprentice and now works for Farfrae.
Henchard never complained of his ill fortune; even now he makes no attempt to explain how he himself had been misled and lied in a desperate attempt to keep Elizabeth’s affection.
From drafts for an article by PAT for Cambridge Today, Michaelmas Term 1951:
It first occurred to me to write an opera in 1942. The idea recurred in 1947 & I started talking about it to all my friends. A lady novelist [Jane Scott — now known as Elizabeth Jane Howard] promised a libretto on a grandiose theme of human helplessness in a vortex of external coincidence or predestination. Meanwhile I was to read Hardy’s “Tess of the D’Urbervilles.” I borrowed a copy of “the Mayor of Casterbridge” by mistake. When I later did read Tess, the very untwentiethcentury behaviour of the leading characters on the subject of premarital experience made me dismiss it. Casterbridge was equally forgotten, & no more was done about an opera.
In 1949 the Arts Council sent out a demand for composers to write operas for the Festival of 1951. There was to be a competition, with 6 prizes of £400 each.
[PAT’S application was unsuccessful, but nevertheless work started on Casterbridge and continued during his year at Eastbourne College.]
I visited the Professor [Hadley, during the Long Vac of 1950] and played him some sketches. “I can smell music” said he. For the rest of the summer, & September, I spent many hours in Paddy’s rooms, going through the libretto cutting its verbosity, or improvising, singing at the piano. The first time I got right through to the end, Paddy who was on a sofa started groaning & sighing & tossing about restlessly, during the last scene. At first I thought he was going to have an apoplectic fit, but played & sang on regardless. After the last notes, he was weeping copiously, & said “I say no more.”
Much of the preparation, scoring and part-copying was very much last-minute.
Note from Patrick Hadley 16 May 1951 (Heacham):
My dear Peter, we must try to keep calm. I am trying to. Look Peter, it’s like this: I have not got confidence yet. I shall forgive you only after the 1st perf if 1. The curtain goes up at all 2. I satisfy myself that the business has been prepared up to the nines, down to the last quaver in the band. Otherwise I disown you for ever Paddy
from The Observer, 5 August 1951: New Composer by Eric Blom:
Cambridge offered us a new opera by a hitherto quite unknown composer, Peter Tranchell, and one that made an immediate and forceful impression. ... As a creative artist Mr Tranchell has decidedly leapt to fame at a single bound and almost recklessly high. His second act is a near-masterpiece, with music apt to situation, full of atmosphere, making shapely composition without distorting the action and, above all, full of really personal and striking invention, often daringly harsh, but never sacrificing musical to ostentatious effect. The rest, with very difficult crowd scenes, is not quite on the same level, but those scenes are on the whole very skilfully managed. “The Mayor of Casterbridge” may not become a Hardy annual of English opera, mainly because there are no such things, but it is an English stage work of exceptional quality.
A letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams:
8 August 1951
Dear Mr. Tranchell
I was very much interested in your Opera. Of course to my old fashioned ears there were rather too many “wrong notes” in the music, but that is my misfortune. It seemed to me, if I may say so, that your music definitely understood the stage and was very effective dramatic music, which is after all what opera should be.
... I thought the performance was excellent and the production.
I hope I shall hear more of your music.
R. Vaughan Williams
from a letter from PAT to his parents, 22 July 54:
Zuleika is pronounced both ways, as far as I can see, but we are favouring in this production the pronunciation to rhyme with “like”. I have written a delicious valse theme for the score, & am very pleased. But progress is slow. I have 18 more “hit-tunes” to write for the show. Only about 50 days to do it in, before preliminary rehearsals begin. “40 days & 40 nights, — lone & weary, dark & dreary.” I forget the hymn, but it describes the ordeal I am now embarking upon.
Peter found the whole experience of Zuleika a great trial, and once the dust had settled after the London run closed he wrote — or rather dictated to a stenographer — a long and bitter account of the succession of problems the show had faced, covering over 30 sides of typescript foolscap. About the Cambridge production he wrote home on 14 November 1954:
The show itself was a failure, to my mind, & deserved the hostile press it got. Where kind words have been said, you may suspect the discrimination of the speaker. I feel extremely disgruntled at the way in which a good opportunity with good ingredients was thrown away through pigheaded & stubborn ignorance. Every piece of advice I gave was disregarded & I had to throw several major tantrums to get my own way with the music...
The ignorance was, he felt, on the part of the librettist/producer, James Ferman (who went on to be a long-serving Secretary and Director of the British Board of Film Censors). Ferman was also involved — much more closely than Peter — with the commercial production in 1957, but was only one of the flies in the ointment: there were problems (in Peter’s view) with Donald Albery’s management, with John Cranko’s direction after he took over when Peter Hall resigned, with Charles Mackerras’s orchestrations and rehearsals, with the leading lady (Diane Cilento —
John West will introduce these, and has provided PAT’s lyrics for the first song:
Just a few more shopping days! With Christmas getting near, our excitement increased! I/he/we went out and ordered good things for the feast!
On the day before Christmas, my butcher sent to me one fowl as aged as could be.
To disguise its ancient frame, he had plucked and stuffed the same, but no stuffing can conceal antiquity!
And lovely though it looked, that bird was never cooked, for fear of harm to tooth and bowel.
With its flesh undiminished, in the dustbin it finished, for it certainly deserved the name of fowl!
A pound or two of pure pork sausage also came, but that had pork in it only by name;
therefore when the time arrived for our feasting to begin, we resorted to beef-steak out of a tin.
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, we’re thankful for the shopping days to Christmas ’cause there aren’t any more!
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, put on your paper hat!
No more shopping days to Christmas, thank goodness for that!
On the day before Christmas my grocer sent to me some crystallised sugar-coated fruit.
Well, the sugar was good stuff, but the fruit inside so tough, that we had to leave the whole darn’d shoot!
And from the grocer’s stocks, there also came a box of crackers (whose high praise he sang).
There was nothing in their middles but some rather feeble riddles; and not a single cracker would go bang!
We’d made a Christmas pudding, and the work it was all ours, and this required to be cooked umpteen hours;
But the oven with a pow’r cut, ceased from its labours; so we borrowed a jelly from one of the neighbours.
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, etc.
On the day before Christmas, the milkman failed to call, but the wine-shop sent us up some drink.
It was Chateau Neuf du Pape, but alas it had gone sharp, so we had to pour it all down the sink!
Some brandy still remained, and from it we abstained, in the hope that after dinner we’d begin it.
But the carol-singers called, and when they had cater-wauled, they came in and drained the bottle in a minute.
From this you all can tell, we didn’t do too well, in trying to keep the Feast of the First Nowell;
But some fifteen days went by, and when all was quite forgot, those tradesmen delivered their bills for the lot!
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, it don’t make sense! Those shopping days to Christmas were an awful expense!
Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, the things we went and bought!
But now, there are three hundred and fifty more shopping days to Christmas, a terrible thought!
A ghastly thought!
Throughout his life, Peter had a habit of collecting newspaper cuttings, particularly of stories that, by their whimsical or illogical nature, caught his imagination. Many of these he set to music. I remember, when I was an undergraduate, that Peter would often at parties produce a wad of cuttings, settle himself at the piano and entertain us with what I believed then were improvised renditions.* But, in the University Library, there is a song-cycle entitled In a Sunday Paper comprising eight songs for baritone and piano composed in 1953. Three of these choruses are settings of newspaper texts, two of them — Once there was a bridegroom and Seven bullocks escaped — were pointed by Peter and sung to psalm-chants. The third, The dog that sat, was originally composed for male voices in 1967 and revised in 1976 for the College Choir with altos. Christmas Shopping is unusual in that it is composed for a four-part mixed choir to a text that he wrote himself, though he notes at the end that ‘thanks are due to Mr and Mrs K.E. Friman for technical advice’. The text is brilliantly and mordantly witty with the most unlikely and improbable rhymes. The music is full of allusions to other Christmas pieces and is headed Tempo di Carol.
* Maurice Holt made recordings in the late 50s of Peter doing precisely this.
An Entertainment written for performance at St Catharine’s for May Week 1963, to his own libretto.
John West will introduce the music and give a précis of the (enormously complicated) story.
Alan Opie is a regular guest at the Metropolitan Opera New York, La Scala, Vienna Staatsoper, Munich, Deutsche Oper, Berlin, Santa Fe Festival, Glyndebourne Festival, English National Opera, Royal Opera House and the Canadian Opera. At ENO he was nominated for the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’ Olivier Award for his performance of Falstaff. Recent performances: Balstrode Peter Grimes (Royal Opera House/Vienna/Santa Fe) Sharpless Butterfly (Los Angeles) and title roles of Rigoletto (ENO/Canadian Opera) and Falstaff (ENO/Oslo/Strasbourg) He has won Grammy Awards for his recordings of Peter Grimes and Die Meistersinger. Other recordings include The Barber of Seville, La Bohème, Pagliacci, Billy Budd, Il trovatore, Ernani, Lucia di Lammermoor, Gloriana, Death in Venice and a highly praised solo album ‘Bel Canto Arias’ for Chandos. He has also sung Balstrode Peter Grimes, Sharpless Madame Butterfly, Faninal Rosenkavalier, Fieramosca Benvenuto Cellini (Metropolitan Opera) Beckmesser Die Meistersinger (Bayreuth), Berio’s Outis (La Scala, Milan/ Le Chatelet, Paris) and The Forester Cunning Little Vixen (La Scala). His concert career has taken him to, among others, the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Madrid, Cologne, Lisbon, Rome, Turin and all the major concert halls of the UK.
Roderic Keating: After studies at Cambridge, Yale and the University of Texas, where he received the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts in 1970, this versatile British tenor began his career as Freddy in My Fair Lady at the Theater a.d. Wien in Vienna, going on to Glyndebourne in 1971-73. His first contract in Germany was with the Lübeck Opera under Bernhard Klee and Matthias Kuntzsch, where his Idamante (with Peter Hofmann as Idomeneo) drew excellent reviews; on moving to Saarbrücken in 1974 he established a large repertoire of lyric and buffo roles including Tamino, Almaviva, Nemorino, Don Ottavio, Camille in the Merry Widow, Dancing Master/Brighella in Ariadne Auf Naxos and the title role in Monteverdi’s Orfeo. In 1980 he moved to Wuppertal and in 1986 to Bonn; his success as Piet the Pot in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre in his last year in Saarbrücken, and the succeeding productions which he undertook in Nürnberg, Graz, Paris, and ENO in London (also in concert in London, Zürich, Vienna, Munich and Graz), led to a long series of contemporary roles. Since 1989 he has been a member of the State Opera, Stuttgart, Germany, establishing a wide range of roles as a character tenor. He has also recently performed in London, Paris and Bologna.
Peter Brice writes: Having read Law at Caius, I qualified as a solicitor in 1968. I threw up the opportunity to be rich and famous by leaving the law and venturing into the world of antiques, before returning to the “comfort” of the family fruit farming business. Having spent many years getting very cross with supermarkets, I semi-retired two years ago and life is now much sweeter. I am married with three grown up children. It is hard to believe I am no longer a student and Johnny West, Richard Dibley and I have tried to maintain the illusion for many years with our cabaret “Medium Dry”. We pinched PAT’s tunes for a couple of numbers, which turned out to be extremely well suited to the lyrics. I no longer sing or play very much but I conduct a small chamber choir in Kent called Straight Eight.
James Gibson went up to Caius in 1944 with a Maths Scholarship and a Choral Exhibition to read for the Mechanical Sciences Tripos. He had no idea of pursuing a musical career, but during his next three years as a research student he got involved in opera and came to fancy the idea of working in an opera house, in which he was encouraged by Patrick Hadley.
In 1951 he joined the music staff of the Covent Garden Opera, where he remained for 22 years, becoming Head of Music Staff and occasionally conducting. Playing for Klemperer’s Fidelio rehearsals was one of the high spots.
After a brief spell in planning he decided it was time to change horses again and left the excitements of opera for the more mundane world of the Department of the Environment, which also turned out to have its share of prima donnas, male and female.
Martin Neary’s early musical training was as a chorister at the Chapel Royal. In 1958 he was elected to the organ scholarship at Gonville and Caius College, where for two years he read theology. In 1960 he moved to the music faculty, following strong advice and encouragement from Patrick Hadley and Peter Tranchell. In 1963 Martin Neary was a prize-winner at the St. Albans International organ competition, and won a scholarship to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to study conducting with Erich Leinsdorf.
After further organ studies in Paris with the blind French organist, André Marchal, Martin Neary was appointed organist of St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster in 1965. Later he became Organist and Master of the Choristers at Winchester Cathedral (1972-87) and at Westminster Abbey (1988-98). He continues to pursue his career as organist, guest conductor, composer and writer.
Martin Neary writes: “I first came across Peter’s music when The Mayor of Casterbridge was revived at the Arts Theatre in 1959. Early in the following year I approached Peter with the idea of composing a work for the Caius May Week concert. Peter accepted the challenge with alacrity, and by the time I visited him in Halifax Road in April, the main part of Aye, aye, Lucian had already been written. Peter attended virtually every rehearsal in the Easter term — he was pretty well the only person around who could play the piano accompaniment — and thus began his long association with Caius: within months he had been elected to a college fellowship, and after deputising for Paddy as Precentor, succeeded him in 1962.
“At this time Peter’s work load was phenomenal; in addition to all his teaching obligations and college responsibilities, each year Peter would compose at least one new work for the college chorus as well as an increasing number of settings or arrangements for the chapel choir. Outside Cambridge he continued to write music for ballets and the annual pantomimes at the Theatre Royal, Windsor, and in 1964 the ballet Images of Love was commissioned by The Royal Ballet. In 1964 Peter kindly agreed to accept a more modest commission for an organ recital I was giving in the City of London Festival, and I am delighted that Francesca Massey will be playing the revised version of Sonatina at the Mattins on Sunday morning.
“Everybody connected with this weekend’s celebrations will have their own clear memories of Peter’s unique contribution to life at Caius and indeed in several cases to their own careers. He was without question one of the most important influences throughout my whole career, both as friend, perceptive critic, and constant encourager.
“It was thanks to Peter that, in my last year at Caius, I went to London to study the organ with probably the finest British organist of his generation, Geraint Jones; and it is fair to say that that move and the opportunities Peter gave me to conduct provided the springboard for my career in the world of church music.”
John West succeeded Martin Neary as Organ Scholar in 1963 while reading Medicine. When in London doing clinical studies, he became assistant organist to Martin at St Margaret’s Westminster, which post he continued for a short while under Richard Hickox. NHS General Practice and family life then consumed him, but music still plays a part, mainly as an assistant organist in various churches in Barnes, West London, and as accompanist for Peter Brice’s excellent group in Kent. Amongst so many acts of love, generosity and kindness shown by Peter T., he experienced at first hand that man’s talent for discerning which career his undergraduates were best suited for. Peter, in his own words, said that he would like to be remembered for “the right road pointed to”.
Geoffrey Weaver: Having graduated from Caius 1965, he taught Music in the UK for some years, including five years as Director of Music at Bristol Grammar School. He then spent six years in Hong Kong, teaching music, directing choirs, and working for the Church Mission Society, and on his return was appointed Organist and Master of Choristers at Bradford Cathedral. For eight years he was working for the Church Mission Society in its training college in Selly Oak, Birmingham, and during this time he published a collection of music from the world church. From 1994 he was Director of Studies for the Royal School of Church Music. Now freelance, over the past ten years he has had a busy international career teaching and training in church music. He continues to conduct a chamber choir, a youth choir and a choral society in the Midlands.
Edward Pick was born in Kettering. After studying for several years with a local teacher, he began studying in London with Ian Jones in 2000. Edward is an active accompanist, and accompanied the Masquerade Youth Choir at the Royal Albert Hall in the Grand Final of Sainsbury’s Choir of the Year 2002. Edward was awarded a Scholarship to study Pianoforte at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and commenced the BMus Performance course in 2003. He studies with Caroline Palmer. Edward is a keen composer, and has studied composition with Matthew King since the start of the BMus course at music college.