An unexpected blast from the past came via a press release emailed to me yesterday afternoon containing a name I vaguely recognised. Richard Ward.
Richard has taken up his new role as Head of Brass at University of Huddersfield.
He joins a growing list of people I remember from twenty years ago, many of them fresh from music studies, and eager to make an impact on the professional scene. Now many of them are taking up teaching professions or moving into orchestral management.
If memory serves me correctly, Richard took part in either a Contemporary Music Course there lead by violinist and conductor Paul Zukofsky – “an extraordinarily offensive man” (New York Times obituary). My memory of Zukofksy from various heated conversations confirms this assessment of the conductor to be pretty much ‘on the nosey’.
If it wasn’t the Contemporary music course, then it was either a concert conducted by Zukofsky as part of the 1996 Aldeburgh Festival, featuring music by Lizst and Stravinsky (in which Richard Ward deputised). Or it was a concert on 23 June at the end of the Festival, conducted by Stefan Asbury featuring excerpts from Britten/Auden operas.
My uncertainty is largely down to the practise of having to submit orchestra personnel lists to the team producing the Festival programme books.
This normally had to be done weeks in advance, at a point in time when very few of the key instrumentalists had been confirmed. Thus, a certainty amount of creativity was adopted when drawing up the list of names. One concert even featured a ‘Jon Jacob’ on percussion.
These recollections make sense. The line-up for the orchestra concert 23rd featured a number of Birmingham Conservatoire students on the list. This suggests that a strong contingent of available musicians had been located earlier in the year, and had already been making ‘the right sounds’ (pun intended). This would have been enough to make me think the Birmingham bunch were a safe bet, that they would remain true as their word and appear on the platform come the actual concert.
Richard was a post-grad at Birmingham Conservatoire where musicians appeared to be keen, good-humoured, relaxed, and most importantly, reliable. Something of a treat for beleaguered orchestral managers.
And in case anyone’s wondering if I have some kind of terrifying photographic memory, I should clarify: I have a store of programmes from nearly every concert I booked, stage managed, or attended. I’m a hoarder.