7 Jun 2015
Promoter of the Month June 2015
An occasional series that highlights the work of valued promoters.
Concerts originaux des amis - concert 293
Sunday June 7th at 3pm
The Arts Centre Theatre
Rose Hill School
…in memoriam Peter Katin…(1930-2015)
Chopin Polonaise in f sharp, opus 44
Liszt Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude
Schubert Sonata in G, D 894
James Lisney - piano
This month’s Promoter of the Month is an example of what can be achieved when enduring musical curiosity is combined with a unstoppable desire to ‘make it happen’.
CODA has mounted concerts great and small in private homes, school halls and the major London venues; promoting young artists and occasionally incorporating famous names such as Peter Katin, Eileen Joyce and Philip Fowke.
The passion and energy behind this initiative comes from Arthur Boyd - and his own words are the best vehicle for understanding his enthusiasm for a lifetime of voluntary concert promotion. He paints a picture that encompasses a golden era of post-war self improvement, avid record collecting and a selfless attitude for helping countless young musicians.
“My father played our old upright piano by ear - mostly musical comedy numbers and he loved the music of Gershwin. I took lessons on the same old piano at about ten from a man who carried a foot rule and used it; I soon dropped out! My first two 78s were Gershwin and the Whiteman Orchestra in a slightly truncated version of his Rhapsody in Blue - and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 recorded by Moiseiwitsch. Both discs would have been HMV Plum Label 12 inch, then at six shillings and seven pence halfpenny each, which included purchase tax!"
"I was at Eltham College during the war period, starting in September 1939. Boarders and some staff were evacuated to Taunton School so, although we got decent tuition, there was not much else. A couple of us, by then probably in the 4th or lower 5th, decided to start a music club. There was one music master still at Eltham, who gave us some help and at least one piano recital but we spent most of our sessions listening to 78 rpm records on a floor-standing cabinet wind-up gramophone. I particularly remember hearing the Tchaikovsky number one concerto played by Solomon on several 12 inch light blue label Columbia discs. I had to leave the 6th form in 1944 after one week in order to help with the family income (my father was a bus driver earning just under £5 a week when the war started)."
"When I left school I joined the Chislehurst Music Group, mostly older folk who had a vocal group and who played recorders and suchlike. This did not particularly suit me though it enabled me to make the acquaintance of the district librarian who allowed me to start the Chislehurst Gramophone Society in 1947, meeting in the hall above the Chislehurst Library. We joined the National Federation of Gramophone Societies and I made friends with other local GS organisers so, when the NFGS appealed in 1949 for folk to start regional groups, I called a meeting (South East London and North West Kent Region of Gramophone Societies) in early 1950 and SELANWKROGS was born - other regions eventually following suit."
"I ran three Festivals of Recorded Music in Chislehurst around the time of the Festival of Britain in 1951, managing to get recording companies to bring down their equipment to demonstrate what might then have been Hi-Fi and even invited the conductor Boyd-Neel to present the opening night. My wife and I lived in New Eltham until 1959, when we moved to a new Colt bungalow I got built in the village of Tatsfield, roughly between Biggin Hill and Westerham. I retained my position as Secretary of CGS after moving and CGS went underground as members fell away, meeting in members' homes. I stopped going to meetings as CODA took over.”
So what is CODA? The mission statement sums it up as follows:
“CONCERTS ORIGINAUX des AMIS (CO is a Registered Charity, founded in 1983, which offers performance platforms to young talented professional musicians as well as the opportunity for members and friends to hear and appreciate the exceptionally high standards and musicality displayed. Performances comparable to the best available in London recital rooms occur regularly and for minimal cost and without the added inconvenience, cost, etc. of making the journey to the metropolis."
"Peter Katin’s father, Jerrold, was particularly instrumental in his early advice towards CODA’s foundation and its first President, the distinguished concert pianist Dr. Eileen Joyce, was always keen to foster and encourage young musicians and fully supported CODA which has, over the past thirty two years, presented more than 272 local recitals and some 20 in London venues (St. Johns Smith Square, Wigmore Hall and the South Bank’s Purcell Room)."
"New members are always welcomed to the Arts Centre Theatre at Rose Hill School in Tunbridge Wells where CODA has its own Yamaha grand piano. A normal season comprises six or more Sunday afternoon recitals, all of which are followed by an ‘interval’ of refreshments and biscuits, and its members enjoy these superb musical performances at low cost. Annual membership is as little as £7 (or £10 for two at the same address) and tickets, which are £16 for non-members, are currently available to members for as little as £13.”
Arthur Boyd was an easy choice for my Promoter of the Month. Whatever his politics may be, he is truly a ‘Big Society’ person who has created a successful music enterprise that has drawn in a rich list of supporters over the years. Past CODA performers include many well-known names - and so have the audiences who have been prepared to squeeze into modest domestic settings to attend concerts.
My strongest memory from the early days was attempting Mussorgsky on a diminutive and distinctly wobbly upright piano, rather too aware that sitting close to the keyboard was the legendary Eileen Joyce, Elgar’s godson E. Wulstan Atkins and Patty Fisher, wife of Cornelius Fisher and friend of Walter Gieseking. All were swept up by Arthur’s enthusiasm and were happy to lend him their support. As it happened, Eileen Joyce was the most generous of audience members, instantly putting a young artist at ease with her collegial friendliness.
Given the various challenges of Arthur’s upright piano back in that Tatsfield bungalow, it is with some relief that I will be performing on the excellent CODA Yamaha grand this weekend.
Full details of how to purchase tickets and information about future events are available from the CODA website.