Trevor Barr's Music Memories
Trevor Barr, former Assistant Director of Music, recalls his time at QEH.
Following our musical feature in the recent issue of 1590, we received this message from Trevor Barr...
"I was delighted and humbled to receive a mention in the article about music by Thomas Davies, who I remember very well. I recall his band and many long conversations about music.
I worked at QEH from 1985 – 1995 and looking back I recall them as very happy, interesting and formative years. I was the Assistant Director of Music and the wonderful Richard Jones was my boss.
I recall with great fondness many fascinating and inspirational young men and some wonderful colleagues. I remember there being lots of young organists, who no one could ignore because we played on the organ in the Hall. Amongst them was Martin Colton, Mark Sceeny, now a senior barrister, Peter Daws, David Finch, Saul Spicer, Jonathan Mitchell, Christopher Legrove and of course the amazing Nicholas Pickard. I learned how to teach from Richard Jones and from the wonderful Catherine Garland who was an inspirational Piano teacher. It felt like we made a good team.
I recall starting the school Wind Band with Mark Hunter and Jeremy Bradley on Trumpet and Jeremy Tizzard on the Trombone. I taught James Crowson for GCSE music. He was a wonderful cellist and Jeremy Chapman who was a great flautist. They were great friends. I think Jeremy went on the make music his life.
I recall a number of excellent musicians coming to us from Exeter Cathedral School including the completely unique Fred Broom with whom I have recently made contact. Also from Exeter came Robert Hall, now an outstanding Director of Music in his own right, Jonathan Mitchell who went on to have a fabulous career in education and a wonderful oboist called Alex Brazier.
I ran the Boarders’ Choir which meet every day after tea and before Prep. We sang on Sunday mornings at our services at the Lord Mayor’s Chapel and at Council Prayers once a month. Amongst our most musical boarders was Richard Nutting who was a great composer, cellist, double bass player and pianist. I recall his music scholarship audition which didn’t go very well, until we asked him what he really liked playing on the piano at which point he launched into a wonderful performance of the Ski Sunday theme tune, based on music by JS Bach. He immediately won us over. We could see his potential. In the Lower 4th Richard wrote a Sea Shanty as part of an entry in a competition run by the National Maritime Museum. His Sea Shanty, which I can still recall, won the competition. I remember us recording it and send it off to London.
Other brilliant young men that come to mind included the bothers, James and Andrew Semple who had been choristers at St Paul’s Cathedral. Jim Hemming and Edward Legrove sang in the Chapel Choir as did the very quirky David Rainsford who was incredibly musical. I recall receiving an e mail from David many years ago from Australia saying the he had found amongst his piano music a book which I had loaned to him! Christopher English also springs to mind. I recall him using our first computer in the Music Department on which he composed rock music absolutely every evening.
I remember working under the guidance of Richard Gliddon who was a kind, gentle and wonderful man. He was a superb Headmaster. I learned such a lot from him and I don’t think I ever thanked him enough. I was lucky enough to be at QEH for the 400th anniversary of the founding of the school. We marched down Park Street led by the one hundred and eight musicians from the band of Christ’s Hospital and we sang Parry’s I was glad at the Charter Day Service in the Cathedral. Richard Jones was amazing with the choir. I think we made a video of that occasion, which was organised by the then Bursar Jim Parker. I recall Jim guiding the school through some tricky financial times and him being proud that we had less debt in terms of fees that were owing, than any other school he knew.
Collegues that spring to mind immediately include Chris Rowe and PW Jones who inspired many bright boys to a love of literature. Chris also played Mr Bumble on our production of Oliver! That show featured Richard Jones as a very frightening Bill Sykes and Richard Gliddon as Dr Brownlow. A part that he was clearly born to play. Rita Gliddon was Mrs Sowerby – the undertaker’s wife and Geoff Wickham was Mr Sowerby. Derek Bell was Fagan. My young colleagues included Bill Ellis, Pete Kirby, David Bateson, Steve Ryan and Andrew Lewis Barned. All of them were inspirational teachers and colleagues, each in their own individual way.
Those were the days. I could go on but I’ll stop. I loved being at QEH in what felt like a really special time. As a young teacher in my first job I know that I learned more from the boys than I ever taught them and fro that I am grateful.
The school motto – Whilst we have time let us do good, has always stuck with me. I haven’t always managed to live by it but I have tried.
After 10 years at QEH I became Director of Music at Warwick School where I stayed for 16 years. In my last few years at Warwick I was Head of Lower School and then I went to teach at a small Prep School in Somerset which was a quieter and gentler existence at the end of my career. I am now retired but am still heavily involved in music. I’m just about to complete an MA, I teach piano and singing privately, I still play the organ and I still conduct choirs. All things I learned to do better during my 10 years at QEH. John Carr did an amazing thing when he ‘founded a school for the education and upbringing of poor boys, such as be of the City of Bristol.’
I should be delighted to hear from anyone who recalls me.