Sunday, August 16, 2015

Celebratory event at the parish church of St Peter & St Paul

Aldeburgh Gazette Edition of May 22nd, 2015

Announcing a celebratory event at the parish church of St Peter & St Paul, 12 noon Wednesday June 17.

JOHN AMIS was a familiar figure at the Aldeburgh Festival from its earliest days, when he worked as a music critic and administrator of the summer school of music at Bryanston, later Dartington; he went on to achieve national celebrity as one of the humorous panelists on the BBC’s My Music show. John lived in London but made a point of coming to Suffolk every June; on his 90th birthday, at Jubilee Hall, he delivered a typically witty reflective talk about his sixty years of festival-going.

John died a year later and is buried, as he wished, in the churchyard of the parish church, just a few yards from the graves of his friends Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears. Recently his partner Isla Baring commissioned a headstone for the grave and this will be unveiled on Wednesday June 17th.

Inside the church, starting at noon, Canon John Giles will lead a celebration to which all friends and admirers of Mr Amis will be very welcome. Excerpts from some of his BBC films and recordings will remind us of his gifts as a musician and entertainer. He had a remarkable talent as a whistler and possessed an exceptionally pleasant tenor voice; his speaking style is instantly recognizable from hundreds of broadcasts. Live piano music associated with John will also be performed by Oliver Davies and Humphrey Burton.

John’s extensive music archive is to be housed at his old school, Dulwich College, and Alasdair Howell, a prodigiously talented pupil aged only ten will be on hand to honour that link by playing Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu. The group will then walk to the churchyard for the unveiling of the headstone designed by Emily Hoffnung; she is the daughter of the musical cartoonist Gerard Hoffnung, a close friend of John’s.

 Their film, Music Through the Looking Glass, will be part of the entertainment which incidentally takes place on what would have been John’s 93rd birthday. The ceremony is open to all ages and will be over by 1 pm. Everybody welcome, festival visitors as well as Aldeburgh residents. Entrance is free and there will be a silver collection. Please spread the word!

by Humphrey Burton

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