Photographs by Paul Miller

On Friday 18 November, after the traditional Welcome Reception in the Bishop’s Suite of the Palace Hotel, Torquay, the Torbay Musical Weekend got under way. It proved to be yet another historic weekend in this gracious Hotel giving members many presentations and recitals across a broad and stimulating cross-section of various musical genres and gems.

After Dinner, many Weekend attendees - many of whom had travelled some distance to be there - relaxed and enjoyed a presentation from Ted Pezarro on ‘Syncopating Ladies’ where he chose recordings from the early 1920s to illustrate the development of his subject up to more modern times. The presentation on these ‘jazz ladies’ was received with much appreciation as Ted was a last-minute replacement for Caroline Brown. She had been due to talk about The Hanover Band, but was indisposed and in hospital.

Following this fascinating presentation more than 40 night owls stayed up late to hear John Isaac present the wonderful sound of Jacqueline Du Pré with a brief history of her short-lived genius.


Saturday opened with Dr Jonathan Maw playing recordings of notable live performances from across the world.


This was followed by the BBC Radio3 presenter and Editor-in-Chief of the Gramophone Magazine, James Jolly. He gave us plenty to think about by showing how so many composers and musicians influenced each other’s style and performance. He gave us some most telling illustrations in his presentation titled ‘Six Degrees of Separation’.


A delightful presentation from Dr. Lionel Carley demonstrated how surprisingly close Grieg, Delius and Grainger were in developing the European cultural tastes in music at the turn of the 19th/20th century.


Next we were surprised to learn that Saverio Mercadante was toppled from the top opera ranking in his day by Verdi. So much of Mercadante’s prolific output is now overlooked as a result. Andrew Borkowski gave us much of the melody, rhythm and full orchestration of his work – in fact much of Mercadante’s music could be mistaken for Verdi.


Our first live event of the weekend was a superb recital from internationally-renowned performers Sebastian Comberti (cello) and Maggie Cole (fortepiano). They spoke about their instruments and the music that they played. Their recital contained works by:

Hélène Liebmann (1795 - c1835), the Gran Sonata in B flat,

for cello and piano, Op. 11 (1806)

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 - 1827) Cello Sonata in F major,

Op. 5 No. 1 (1796), and one Bagatelle from Op. 33

Franz Peter Schubert (1797 - 1828), Arpeggione Sonata

in A minor, D. 821 (1824)



The late night Saturday presentation saw Maureen Greenhouse expose the fascinating life of soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, demonstrating Elisabeth’s versatile repertoire with many of her recordings.

After the AGM on Sunday morning we were treated to an interesting review of The Cheltenham Music Festival which started, surprisingly, in 1945 with the LPO and Benjamin Britten. The festival’s Artistic Director Meurig Bowen inspired us with music and pictures from this ever more prestigious event.

A real insight to what makes the recorded music industry tick came from Patrick Garvey. A former professional musician turned agent he knew about the workings, failings and pressures on musicians and how tough a musician’s life can be. He gave us a good look behind the scenes into the agent’s role, well-illustrated by music, much of which was by artists on his Agency’s books.

One of our regulars, David Wherrell, echoed the experience of many of us by charting his own development in the appreciation of a broad range of music. David had everybody enthralled with so many numbers that we could all relate to.

Our weekend ended with young professional musician Christopher Beaumont, and his mentor Peter Rhodes, performing with Glockenspiel and Piano, to illustrate the music both written and performed by Sir Patrick Moore, perhaps more famous for his television programme “The Sky at Night”.

A most unusual and different presentation using, in addition, the late Sir Patrick’s own Glockenspiel. It was punctuated with many anecdotes, famous throw away lines and quoting some most amusing advice that Sir Patrick had penned as an example of how to deal with errant utility company officials.

Christopher had been very close to Sir Patrick for some years and is now cataloguing his music.

It was a light and delightful way to close the 47th Torbay Musical Weekend.

Many thanks to Paul Miller for the photographs                                                    John Isaac, Chairman

The dates for the next Torbay Musical Weekend are: 17 - 20 November 2017

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