Following the 2nd globe war British live performance and operatic everyday living benefited from eager audiences, expanded schooling and broadcasting, the professional achievements of the extended-enjoying report and general public funding of the arts. Remaining gaps – prospects for youthful performers, new music and lesser-regarded operas – identified as for the aptitude of an imaginative impresario, nevertheless 1 operating in a not-for-profit ecosystem. John Woolf, who has died aged 91 of cancer, was this kind of a determine.
A violinist with what was then the Covent Backyard garden Opera Organization, in 1956 he acknowledged the use of a house in central London – 45 Park Lane, changed in the 1960s by a nightclub – as the foundation for an organisation to do the issues that other people had been not undertaking. For the up coming 65 years he ran the Park Lane Group virtually on his own, with the assistance of a supportive committee. Funding arrived mostly from musical trusts and shared gala performances of West Finish musicals, with some Arts Council support in early years.
From its get started the PLG offered the major system for young performers of outstanding talent, principally in the Purcell Space, opened in 1967 at the Southbank Centre, London. The 1,600 artists presented by the time of John’s loss of life incorporated the pianists John Ogdon and Imogen Cooper, the singers Thomas Allen and Josephine Barstow, the Nash Ensemble and the Arditti Quartet. The operate of many living composers was featured, and in this space his attempts ended up aided by the tunes publisher Giles Easterbrook.
The trust’s other two aims were being to mount imaginative musical situations, and to rejoice the life and operate of fantastic musicians, which it normally did by marking anniversaries. In 1962 William Walton done Façade, with Irene Truly worth and Sebastian Shaw reciting Edith Sitwell’s poems, in the Royal Festival Hall she marked her 75th birthday by reading through more latest poems, and Peter Pears sang. Outside the house London, Boulez in Birmingham (2008) took put in the presence of the composer. Park Lane Opera functioned until finally 1981, typically at the Camden pageant in London, and there were 25 productions, primarily staged, which include Gian Carlo Menotti’s Maria Golovin (1976), directed by the composer.
The PLG was specially lively in the 70s. The 1972-73 time, for illustration, opened with the mezzo-soprano Cathy Berberian in a Parisian salon programme in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London afterwards in the year Igor Oistrakh gave a violin recital there. The new music 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 Music Circus, with pupils from Birmingham University, took above the Round Household, north London, for its initially efficiency in Europe. Eight concert events which include performers from 6 mainland European nations around the world marked the UK’s accession to the European Financial Local community. The soprano Jane Manning took part in an digital songs programme with Tristram Cary. There was jazz, with a commissioned function from Ian Carr, and a programme from the Mike Gibbs Band. Singers included Shirley Verrett in the Royal Festival Hall and Felicity Palmer in the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the Park Lane Gamers.
Born in Great, 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 via Marseille and to Gibraltar on a Scottish collier. At some point they reached Plymouth, and were being in a position to be a part of his mom and more mature brother in London.
John played the violin in many London orchestras from the mid-1940s. In 1952 he joined the next violins of the orchestra at the Royal Opera Residence, going on to the initially violins in 1974 and leaving in 1995. He enormously valued his get hold of with the finest operatic repertoire, and came to regret providing his high-quality violin immediately after his departure.
Just after the Covid pandemic made the Purcell Area concerts all around new year unattainable, John put on lunchtime live shows for younger artists that ended up streamed stay from St James’ church, Piccadilly. At the time of his dying a new lunchtime sequence was running at Holy Sepulchre church, Superior Holborn, and he experienced other plans in prepare for the long run.
John was very generous and devoted, and an affable companion. He was appointed MBE (1974), an honorary member of the Royal School of Audio (1981) and honorary fellow of the Royal Academy of Music (2007). But ever modest, he refused to enable me publish an post about him and his achievements for his 90th birthday. He was like a gambler with concert events – he could not resist them and certainly set a appreciable amount of his very own funds into the PLG above several years.
His short relationship to Catherine Roberts ended in divorce, and he is survived by their son, Andrew, a saxophone and clarinet participant.
John Robin Marcel Woolf, live performance promoter, born 12 April 1930 died 30 January 2022