History of Penrith Music Club

During the Second World War The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, was evacuated to Penrith. Their music master Arthur Milner ran a series of WEA Music Appreciation classes in the town and in 1944 when the school returned to the North East he and some of his class suggested that a music club be formed. A public meeting was held on 14 June, a committee elected and the first concert given on 28 August - a violin and piano recital by Arthur and Winfred Percival.

Until 1949 most concerts were given in St. Andrew's Rooms with larger scale orchestral and operatic evenings in the Drill Hall (destroyed by fire in 1963). From 1949 to 1973 the Council Chamber of the Town Hall was used; from 1973 to January 1997 St. Andrew's Church hosted the concerts and since February 1997 the refurbished Penrith Methodist Church has proved an excellent venue. A lottery grant in 1996 enabled the club to buy a model B Steinway grand piano which lives in the Methodist Church.

In the early years membership rose to 200 and distinguished artists appeared - pianists Kendall Taylor, Hedwig Stein. Iso Elinson, violinists Martin Milner, Marie Hall, cellists Joan Dickson, Florence Hooton, singers Michael Head, Sir Steuart Wilson, David Franklin and Early Music pioneers Carl Dolmetsch and Joseph Saxby. George Thalben-Ball gave an organ recital in St. Andrew's Church and in 1947 a young cellist who replaced an indisposed colleague was much praised - John Kennedy, father of Nigel.......

For many years the programme has consisted of a series of six concerts featuring experienced international performers and young emerging talent. Pianists Martin Roscoe, Margarita Shevchenko, John Lill, Angela Hewitt and Anya Alexeyev were particularly memorable; fine quartets from the Philadelphia and New Budapest to newer ensembles such as the Sorrel, Belcea and Skampa have maintained the highest standards of performance.

Orchestras occasionally visit the town - European Community Chamber Orchestra, the BT Scottish Ensemble, London Festival Orchestra, London Mozart Players and the Northern Chamber Orchestra have all given excellent concerts.With the human voice I Fagiolini and Christopher Maltman were special.

The Club also has a Piano Circle which meets monthly and organises concerts by local artists and talented young musicians from specialist music schools or the junior department of the RNCM.

Updated on 26th March 2018. Contact webmaster