John Woolf obituary | Classical music

Stella McDaniel

Immediately after the 2nd entire world war British live performance and operatic lifestyle benefited from keen audiences, expanded training and broadcasting, the professional good results of the extensive-enjoying file and public funding of the arts. Remaining gaps – prospects for young performers, new songs and lesser-regarded operas – identified as for the flair of an imaginative impresario, although one performing in a not-for-profit environment. John Woolf, who has died aged 91 of most cancers, was these types of a figure.

A violinist with what was then the Covent Back garden Opera Business, in 1956 he approved the use of a household in central London – 45 Park Lane, changed in the 1960s by a nightclub – as the foundation for an organisation to do the factors that many others were being not performing. For the following 65 years he ran the Park Lane Group virtually on his have, with the assist of a supportive committee. Funding came mostly from musical trusts and shared gala performances of West End musicals, with some Arts Council aid in early a long time.

From its commence the PLG provided the top platform for younger performers of outstanding talent, principally in the Purcell Area, opened in 1967 at the Southbank Centre, London. The 1,600 artists introduced by the time of John’s death bundled the pianists John Ogdon and Imogen Cooper, the singers Thomas Allen and Josephine Barstow, the Nash Ensemble and the Arditti Quartet. The operate of quite a few dwelling composers was featured, and in this area his efforts were being aided by the new music publisher Giles Easterbrook.

The trust’s other two aims were to mount imaginative musical occasions, and to rejoice the life and perform of great musicians, which it often did by marking anniversaries. In 1962 William Walton performed Façade, with Irene Value and Sebastian Shaw reciting Edith Sitwell’s poems, in the Royal Festival Hall she marked her 75th birthday by looking at far more new poems, and Peter Pears sang. Outside the house London, Boulez in Birmingham (2008) took position in the presence of the composer. Park Lane Opera functioned until 1981, frequently at the Camden festival in London, and there were 25 productions, mainly staged, which include Gian Carlo Menotti’s Maria Golovin (1976), directed by the composer.

The PLG was notably lively in the 70s. The 1972-73 season, for case in point, opened with the mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian in a Parisian salon programme in the Queen Elizabeth Corridor, London later in the year Igor Oistrakh gave a violin recital there. The tunes of Lord Berners was celebrated by the pianist and PLG founding member Susan Bradshaw, the mezzo-soprano Meriel Dickinson, my sister, and me in tunes with piano, and the poet John Betjeman giving readings. John Cage’s Audio Circus, with pupils from Birmingham University, took over the Spherical Dwelling, north London, for its first functionality in Europe. 8 concerts including performers from six mainland European international locations marked the UK’s accession to the European Financial Neighborhood. The soprano Jane Manning took section in an digital audio programme with Tristram Cary. There was jazz, with a commissioned do the job from Ian Carr, and a programme from the Mike Gibbs Band. Singers bundled Shirley Verrett in the Royal Pageant Corridor and Felicity Palmer in the Queen Elizabeth Corridor with the Park Lane Gamers.

Born in Nice, in the south of France, John was the son of Antoinette (nee Piguete), and Hermann Woolf, a translator. In June 1940, John and his father escaped from France by Marseille and to Gibraltar on a Scottish collier. Ultimately they arrived at Plymouth, and were being ready to sign up for his mom and older brother in London.

John played the violin in various London orchestras from the mid-1940s. In 1952 he joined the second violins of the orchestra at the Royal Opera Dwelling, going on to the to start with violins in 1974 and leaving in 1995. He enormously valued his contact with the finest operatic repertoire, and arrived to regret offering his fantastic violin just after his departure.

Soon after the Covid pandemic manufactured the Purcell Space concerts all-around new year impossible, John set on lunchtime concert events for younger artists that ended up streamed dwell from St James’ church, Piccadilly. At the time of his loss of life a new lunchtime sequence was managing at Holy Sepulchre church, Superior Holborn, and he had other options in practice for the potential.

John was amazingly generous and devoted, and an affable companion. He was appointed MBE (1974), an honorary member of the Royal College or university of New music (1981) and honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Songs (2007). But at any time modest, he refused to let me compose an article about him and his achievements for his 90th birthday. He was like a gambler with live shows – he could not resist them and certainly put a considerable volume of his have resources into the PLG about many several years.

His quick relationship to Catherine Roberts ended in divorce, and he is survived by their son, Andrew, a saxophone and clarinet player.

John Robin Marcel Woolf, live performance promoter, born 12 April 1930 died 30 January 2022

This posting was corrected on 25 February 2022. The reciters of Walton’s Façade in the 1962 live performance were being Irene Well worth and Sebastian Shaw, rather than Edith Sitwell and Peter Pears.

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