REVIEWER PROFILE – JOHN WHITMORE
I was born in Leicestershire where I spent my childhood and teenage years. After graduating in biochemistry I then pursued a career in healthcare sales and marketing, moved to Saddleworth in 1984 and now live in Delph village (of Brassed Off fame).
Now semi-retired I work part time for the Oldham Music Service helping them with their PR and audio visual activities. Youth music is something I value very highly and my three sons have all benefited enormously by going through the fabulous Oldham system, where they have been involved in various bands and orchestras. Saddleworth is very much brass band country and it’s difficult not to get drawn into this special culture and enjoy what’s on offer.
Growing up in Leicestershire brought me into contact with the late, great Eric Pinkett who was the first Music Advisor for the county and the founder of the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra. As an 8 year old I started violin lessons and then attended the weekly County School of Music rehearsals in Leicester every Saturday morning. The LSSO feeder groups gave its young members some “real” music to play. Nothing was dumbed down by Eric Pinkett and his team of peripatetic musicians. I remember scraping my way through Pique Dame, Beethoven’s Pastoral, Schubert’s Unfinished and pot boilers such as Karelia, Finlandia and Malcolm Arnold’s Scottish Dances. It must have sounded pretty basic but it was the beginning of my lifelong love of music. Aged 12, I had well and truly caught the classical music bug and it seemed a good idea to listen to music performed professionally so I joined World Record Club and every month a new pre-recorded tape would arrive through the post – Goossens conducting Scheherazade, Spivakovsky’s Sibelius concerto and Hollingsworth’s Swan Lake all immediately spring to mind. I’ve been collecting now for the best part of 50 years. The old LPs have gone and a room full of CDs has replaced it.
Like so many children before and since, I progressed through the Leicestershire feeder orchestras and eventually spent four happy years in the LSSO. At the time, the orchestra was second only to the NYOGB and the playing standard was phenomenal. The late 1960s were exciting times and I was lucky enough to have made music with Sir Michael Tippett (the orchestra’s patron), Sir Arthur Bliss, Andre Previn and that brilliant orchestral trainer Norman Del Mar. During my time there the orchestra made a number of commercial LPs for the Pye, Argo and Unicorn labels and gave concerts in some wonderful halls. The Philharmonie in Berlin and the Musikvereinsaal in Vienna are two occasions that will live with me forever.
My wife and three children, Classical Music and Leicester City Football Club are my key interests in life. I am also the self-appointed, unofficial LSSO archivist and occasional organiser of reunions. Over the years I have built up a treasure trove of LSSO photographs, press articles and audio-visual materials, many of which are available to view on Youtube. My memorabilia website can be found at www.lsso.co.uk. I have also recently become interested in preserving out of print LPs and restoring them to the digital domain, helping two USA-based companies, Rediscovery www.rediscovery.us and Klassic Haus www.klassichaus.us with some of their recent releases. Indeed, Klassic Haus has reissued a number of LSSO recordings, beautifully transferred from vinyl and now available, sounding as good as new, as CDs and downloads. I made contact with Rob Barnett through shared e-mail conversations with Klassic Haus, hence my recent involvement with MusicWeb International as a classical reviewer.
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