To entertain and inform, a platform for a diverse range of music in a social atmosphere

About / Famous Visitors


Since its formation in 1949, Redbridge Music Society has been fortunate to welcome many internationally famous people from the music world – conductors, performing musicians, composers, musicologists, music administrators and others – to its doors as performers, presenters or as guests to the society. In the early 1980s Colin Pryke and Derek Price (respectively the Chairman and Secretary of the society at that time) gave an illustrated presentation to members about the society’s distinguished visitors up until that time.

Since then there have been many more: brief biographical details of some of these visitors (many from Colin Pryke’s archives) are outlined below.

Vernon Handley - Conductor

Vernon Handley (1930 – 2008) visited Redbridge Music Society on 7th March 1989. He was known to all as ‘Tod’ Handley and despite the ‘Nod for Tod’ campaign started in 2003 he never received the knighthood that many felt he so richly deserved.
He was unique amongst front rank conductors in that he unashamedly championed British repertoire (in particular the music of Sir Arnold Bax) before that of all other countries. Recognised as Sir Adrian Boult’s protégé he held steadfastly to two principles, which might have proved detrimental to a successful career: an undemonstrative stick technique and an ‘unfashionable’ repertoire.
Handley made recordings that brought much of the unfashionable repertoire into fashion and British music owes him a great debt.

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Sir Charles Groves - Conductor

Sir Charles Groves (1915 – 1992) visited the society in our early ‘Goodmayes’ days. The audience remembered him as an extremely affable and friendly man who spoke particularly well and who played some interesting recorded illustrations. The photograph was taken at his visit to the Society
He was an English conductor respected for his breadth of repertoire and known for his support of contemporary composers and encouragement of young conductors and musicians.
In the 1970s he was a regular conductor at the last night of the Proms but it was with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra that he was particularly associated and with whom he made most of his recordings

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Sir Colin Davis - Conductor

The visit to Redbridge Music Society in the 1980s of the distinguished English conductor Sir Colin Davis (1927 – 2013) was one of our most memorable events.
His repertoire was broad, but among the composers with whom he was particularly associated were Mozart, Elgar, Sibelius, Stravinsky and especially Berlioz and Tippett. He had an extensive discography and made of 300 recordings.
For over 25 years Davis inspired a whole generation of young conductors as International Chair of Conducting Studies at the Royal Academy of Music. He is perhaps best known for his long and fruitful association with the London Symphony Orchestra being principal conductor for many years and in later years its president.

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Sir Peter Pears - Tenor

In the early 1980’s we had a visit from the distinguished English tenor Sir Peter Pears (1910 – 1986). Although still suffering the effects of his recent stroke he gave a fascinating talk, illustrated with many recordings.
Throughout his career he was closely associated with the composer Benjamin Britten with whom he co-founded of the Aldeburgh Festival in 1947 and the Britten-Pears School in 1972.
His voice had a distinctive, idiosyncratic quality that was not to all tastes, but such was his skill and musicianship that he could use the voice to expressive effect in many styles of music.

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George Lloyd - Composer

On 17th October 1995 Redbridge Music Society was particularly privileged to hear a fascinating illustrated talk given by the British composer George Lloyd (1913 – 1986) on his life and work. He was a modest and unassuming man, very willing on that evening to enthusiastically engage in conversation with the members of the public attending his talk.
Lloyd was born into a musical family in Cornwall in 1913 and over the span of his life his music underwent a number of phases: recognition (in his early years), rejection (in his middle years) and then recognition again (in his later years). His music was unashamedly late-Romantic – tuneful, melodious and harmonious. Lloyd had little time for 12-tone 20th Century music; “I thought it was a cock-eyed idea that produced horrible sounds; it made composers forget how to sing” he said.

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Gerald Moore - Piano accompanist

In 1955 the founder and then Secretary of our music society, Stanley Robertson, persuaded the English pianist and accompanist Gerald Moore (1899 – 1987) to become the President of our music society. However, it was not until 1958 that he first visited us due to his heavy international schedule; we knew that his visits would not be frequent.
Moore accompanied many of the world’s most famous singers such as Elizabeth Schumann, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Victoria de los Ángeles and Hans Hotter but it was with the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau that he was particularly associated with.
He wrote and lectured extensively on musical topics and did much to raise the status of accompanist from a subservient role to that of an equal artistic partner,

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John Ogden - Pianist

In his short period as President in the late 1980s pianist John Ogdon (1937 – 1989) visited the Redbridge Music Society twice. Once to give a memorable recital including works by Beethoven, Liszt and Busoni, and a second time to accompany his wife, Brenda Lucas, who played for us that evening. He was in the audience and was full of admiration for her performance.
Ogdon was an extremely gifted pianist and composer, possessing a phenomenal memory and an amazing technique. The last 15 years of his career were blighted with mental illness and although this did not stop him from recording or playing, his concert appearances were unpredictable.
He was an extremely talented musician whose life was indeed troubled, sad and yet glorious.

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Larry Adler - Harmonica

Larry Adler (1914 – 2001) was one of the world’s most famous and skilled harmonica players and the possessor of an outsized personality.He visited Redbridge Music Society on 8th October 1992 and although he did not perform that evening (he was recovering from illness at the time) he gave a very amusing and witty illustrated talk to us.
Adler helped considerably to raise the status of the harmonica (along with Tommy Reilly) and had works written for him by major composers such as Ralph Vaughan-Williams and Malcolm Arnold. He was equally at home in ‘classical’ ,jazz and popular music and recorded prolifically in these genres.
He lived most of life in London in self-imposed exile after he and other left-leaning performers were blacklisted during the anti-communist McCarthy frenzy that overtook America in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

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Derek Hammond-Stroud - Baritone

After our President John Ogdon died in 1989 the Committee invited the distinguished English baritone Derek Hammond-Stroud (1926 – 2012) to become the new President. He accepted and remained our President until 1995.
He was best known for his performances of German lieder and his international performances in opera, in particular the role of Alberich in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. He also made a number of recordings including a series of recordings of Gilbert and Sullivan roles, the Reginald Goodall Ring recordings and a much praised 1979 live recording of Schubert’s Winterreise with accompanist Geoffrey Parsons.
He visited the society several times, notably when he gave a talk to us about his great friend, the legendary German baritone Gerhard Hüsch and then 3rd July 1990 when he gave a memorable master class to six local talented singers, most being pupils of the soprano and teacher Edna Graham. At these sessions his great enthusiasm and wit were plain for all to see.

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Stanford Robinson - Conductor

Stanford Robinson (1904 – 1984) was the first internationally prominent English conductor to visit the music society – way back in the 1950s at the society’s Goodmayes venue. He worked tirelessly for the BBC from 1924 to 1966 during which time he set up the BBC Singers, the BBC Choral Society and the BBC Chorus.
He conducted at Covent Garden, was assistant conductor of the Proms from 1947 to 1950 and after retirement in 1966 conducted in Australia and at the Gilbert & Sullivan Nights at the Proms in the early 1970s.
He was the older brother of the popular conductor and broadcaster, Eric Robinson.

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Sir Lennox Berkeley - Composer

Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903 – 1989) was an English composer who visited the society in the early “Goodmayes” days.
He studied in France under Nadia Boulanger and also with Maurice Ravel, the latter having been a strong influence on Berkeley’s development. He composed many works and in later years adopted serialism which gave a darker quality to his works.
His eldest son, Michael Berkeley (another visitor to Redbridge Music Society), is a composer also.

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Eileen Joyce - Pianist

Eileen Joyce (1908 – 1991) was an Australian pianist whose career spanned more than 30 years. In her later years she lived in England and she visited Redbridge Music Society in late 1981.
Her striking stage presence and magical playing made her (and her recordings) popular internationally in the 1930s and 1940s, particularly during WWII.
She was born into abject poverty but her talent was recognised early on and with support and encouragement she rose to international fame. However much of her life was plagued fear and self-doubt and she suffered a breakdown in 1953.
Her playing of the 2nd movement of Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto in the films Brief Encounter and The Seventh Veil helped popularise the work.

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Ivor Newton - Piano accompanist

Ivor Newton (1892 –1981) visited Redbridge Music Society in late 1970 to give a talk on his great friend Kirsten Flagstad. He was an accompanist to many international singers and string players and was one of the first make the accompanist’s role distinctive.
He toured extensively and played at major international music festivals such as Salzburg and Edinburgh appearing with many famous artists including Nellie Melba, Feodor Chaliapin, Kirsten Flagstad and Pablo Casals.
He was well-known for his superb musicianship and unflappable personality; his distinguished career lasted over 60 years.

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Jack Brymer - Clarinettist

The celebrated clarinettist Jack Brymer (1915 – 2003) visited Redbridge Music Society in September 1991.The media had described him as “the leading clarinettist of his generation, perhaps of the century”.
He was largely self-taught and as a boy encountered and appreciated a wide range of music genres which he insisted had been of great value to him in his later professional career. He played for many years in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham and later on in the BBC Symphony and London Symphony Orchestras.
He had a prolific career and in addition to performing was a teacher, author, recording artist and a frequent broadcaster. He is remembered particularly for his outstanding recordings and performances of Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto.

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Avril Coleridge-Taylor - Pianist

Avril Coleridge-Taylor (1903 – 1998) was an English pianist, conductor, and composer. She was one of the first famous visitors to Redbridge Music Society in the 1960s, and is seen here playing the piano for the members on that evening.
She was the daughter of the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and conducted his most famous work, Hiawatha, on a number of occasions at the Royal Albert Hall. She was also a composer, writing under the pseudonym of Peter Riley.
In her later years she lived in South Africa under apartheid sadly finding it difficult to get work because of her part-African ancestry.

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