At a Court meeting held in September 1999, the Senior Warden, Alderman Sir Alan Traill GBE, MA, D.Mus. (Lord Mayor 1984-5), announced the Company’s Quincentennial Programme and formally launched a new appeal fund. He said:
“The 500th anniversary of the Musicians’ Company will not only be celebrated with music and song, but with renewed and improved commitment to the most talented young musicians in the UK during the crucial years between college and the successful establishment of a professional career”.
Thus the Company’s initiative Funding a Future was born.
Issue 19 of Preserve Harmony (Autumn 1999) contained a special 4 page Pull-Out section which announced many of Sir Alan's initiatives for his Mastership and the Company's Anniversary Year of 2000. This quincentennial section of PH is shown below - click an image to enlarge and scroll through; click on Go to link to expand further.
A further initiative of Sir Alan’s was the participation of the Company in the sponsorship of the international Masterprize competition, supported by Coutts Bank and held in the Barbican Hall on 7th April 1998. WCOM Members were issued (via the March '98 edition of Preserve Harmony) with a CD containing a recording of all six competition entries, played by the London Symphony Orchestra and were asked to vote for their preferred composition (Click Here to see that issue of PH, together with the CD and Voting Form).
The Company’s prize was a commission worth £10,000 for a work to be specially written for performance during the Quincentennial year. The first prize and the Company’s prize were both awarded to the young English composer Andrew March (a Company Constant and Kit Lambert Award winner at the Royal College of Music), for his composition Marine a Travers les Arbres. This was announced in the September '98 issue of Preserve Harmony - Click Here to see that Issue (No. 17) and also a video performance of the piece by Ashkenazy.
Following his success in 1998, Andrew soon began work on his Quincentennial piece, entitled A Stirring in the Heavenlies, which was premiered at a concert, again at the Barbican, in December 2000, as the final celebratory event commemorating 500 years of the Company’s history.
The Quincentenary also marked the launch of a CD: 500 Years of Music which included works composed or performed by musicians closely linked to the Company, taken extensively from EMI archives. These included Sir John Stainer, Sir Edward Elgar, Sir Arthur Bliss and Sir Lennox Berkeley as well as an aria from a Glyndebourne recording of Don Giovanni, which acknowledged the Company’s close links to the Opera Festival through the annual John Christie Award. Many copies of the CD were sold to Company members and others interested in the Company’s work during that year.
The front cover and disc are shown right. Rear cover and sleeve notes are presented below (click to enlarge and scroll through, click on Go to link to expand further):
A number of Musicians’ Company events were held in association with Austin Reed, whose Chairman, Colin Evans, was Master of the Cutlers’ Company that same year.
In May, the Master and Lady Traill hosted a large garden party at their home in Surrey, with music played by an orchestra from the Yehudi Menuhin School, conducted by Malcolm Singer, and a Big Band from Christ’s Hospital School, led by Terry Whittingham.
Other special events held during the year 2000 included a recital by pianist Melvyn Tan in the Lloyds Building in the City, during which he played instruments from the Broadwood Collection.
Another highlight of the summer was a commemoration service in the Chapel of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, on the exact day of the year – 4 June – that the Charter was granted in 1500. The Bishop of London, the Right Reverend Richard Chartres, preached the sermon and, following a lunch in the Painted Hall, coffee was served in the VIP lounge of the Millennium Dome, now re-named the O2. The Programme from this event is shown left (and the inside pages below) - click an image to expand and scroll through; click on Go to link to enlarge further:
Shown below are three photos taken at Greenwich. The one outside the Naval College shows (left to right) The Honorary Chaplain: Reverend Rupert Neville Morton; The Senior Warden: David Hill; Pastmaster Francis Carnwath; The Bishop of London: The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres; The Master: Alderman, Sir Alan Traill GBE: and the Junior Warden: Gavin Barrett.
A CD was also published containing extracts from the service and was widely distributed among members. The front cover, rear cover, sleeve note and disc are shown below.
The following month a major concert, Jazz at the Globe was held at the theatre on Bankside as part of the City of London Festival. A Programme was produced (cover shown right) that introduced the performers and contained Forwards by The Master (Sir Alan Traill) and Chairman of the Jazz Committee (Nigel Tully). Several pages from that Programme are shown below. Click an image to expand, click Go to link to expand further:
The concert featured a number of Company members. Chief among them was Honorary Freeman Dame Cleo Laine, together with her husband, Liveryman John Dankworth, who two years later was awarded the Company’s Gold Medal and in 2006 became Knight Bachelor in the New Year's Honours List.
The three black and white pictures shown left are taken at the concert and feature (top) The John & Alec Dankworth Generation Big Band. The middle picture shows (left to right) John Horler, Cleo Laine, John Dankworth and Alec Dankworth.
Other performers with links to the Company included singer Tina May, Stan Tracey, Mark Nightingale and Andy Panayi. The photo (bottom left) shows Jazz Trombonist, Don Lusher OBE being presented with the Company's Lifetime Achievement Silver medal during the concert by The Master.
Marian McPartland also received a special award during the event for her accomplishments as a jazz pianist.
A double CD was issued containing the performances at this special Jazz at the Globe event.
Shown right is the front and rear CD cover and underneath, both discs (click images to enlarge).
Shown below is the internal booklet containing sleeve notes and photographs from the event. This CD is owned by a Company Member (and attendee); autographs across Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine's pictures were clearly acquired at the event.
Outside London, a Brass Band concert, conducted by Elgar Howarth, was held in Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on 9 September in recognition of the long association of the Company, and the Iles family in particular, with the Brass Band movement. Click Here for much more information about the Iles's contribution to the Company - in particular from John Henry Iles.
A number of other events took place during the year which were regular features in the Company’s calendar, but enjoyed a special significance because of the anniversary. Among these were a Company Concert at the church of St Andrew’s Holborn in June, the Company’s Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral in October and the performance of a Bach Cantata at St Michael’s Cornhill, followed by a lunch at Tallow Chandlers’ Hall.
During the year two exhibitions of Company Archives were held at the Barbican Music Library. The first, during May and June, was entitled Apollo’s Swan and Lyre, the second from October to December Preserve Harmony. To launch the earlier of the two, a special visitor was invited to attend. Ursula Vaughan Williams, widow of the composer, was guest of honour and it was she who was asked to take part in revealing a 100-year old mystery.
This duty was to open 12 sealed envelopes (shown right) which contained the names of composers who had submitted entries for the 1902 Coronation March competition. With their identities unknown almost 100 years, these composers had sent their scores to be judged anonymously and the name of the final winner of the competition, Percy Godfrey, was the only one to be revealed all those years ago, by opening his envelope in 1902!
As the envelopes were being opened, a link was established to Radio 3’s In Tune with Sean Rafferty. When each name was revealed it was reported directly to Radio 3 and the information relayed to the listening audience. In the event no major composer’s work was discovered but a score by Sydney Nicholson, founder of the English School of Church music, was identified – a musician well-remembered by a number of those present.
Perhaps the most lasting mementoes of the Quincentenary were the publication of two books; firstly, Musicians of the Millennium (cover shown left, first few pages shown below), edited by a team led by Court Assistant Norman Tribble, listed every living Liveryman of the Company, with details of their lifetime achievements. This was an important work and has remained a useful reference source in subsequent years.
The second book to emerge from the 2000 celebrations was Pastmaster Richard Crewdson’s Apollo’s Swan and Lyre – frequently referred to in the pages of this website. It's a comprehensive history of the Musicians' Company, which followed on from several editions of earlier histories, some by Richard’s father, Brigadier Alastair Crewdson.
Further information on all such Company Handbooks can be seen by Clicking Here.