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Brass band tribute for neglected composer

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 03, 2013

By SIMON PARKER

  • The music of Cornish composer George Lloyd, above, will be played at venues from the Royal Albert Hall to St Ives Guildhall as part of his centenary celebrations

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The music of a neglected Cornish composer will "come home" later this month when two brass bands stage a concert to mark the centenary of his birth.

George Lloyd is to be the subject of an evening of music at St Ives Guildhall on June 28 – a hundred years to the day since he was born in the seaside town.

Led by Camborne Town Band and Cornwall Youth Brass Ensemble, it will feature many of the composer's best-known works. Among them will be HMS Trinidad, which was premiered at sea in 1941, with the composer playing cornet.

St Ives mayor Colin Nicholls said: "George Lloyd is one of St Ives' and Cornwall's forgotten sons, who made a significant contribution to 20th century music in this country.

"It is fantastic that his birthplace, St Ives, will be the location for this showcase of his work."

Born in what is now St Eia Hotel on the main road into the town, he and his family later moved to Zennor, where his parents ran the Wayside Museum. His father was an accomplished flautist and secretary of St Ives Arts Club, while his mother was a violinist and pianist.

Lloyd began playing the violin at the age of five and writing music at ten. He had considerable early success with opera before the age of 21 and his productions at The Lyceum and Covent Garden in London were attended by the musical establishment.

After serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World – when he suffered considerable physical and psychological injuries in a torpedo attack – he made his home first in Switzerland, then moved to Dorset and later London.

His repertoire consists of symphonies, concertos and operas, as well as music for piano and violin.

In total, he wrote three operas, three major cantatas, twelve symphonies, seven concertos and numerous chamber and brass works.

Inspired by the sound of St Ives Salvation Army Band as a child, he went on to compose a substantial body of scores for brass band. It is these which will form the centrepiece of the St Ives tribute concert.

His nephew, William Lloyd, said: "St Ives and Cornwall were both very important to George Lloyd. He was proud to be a Cornishman and he retained a fascination with Cornish archaeology and mythology throughout his life. So it is immensely pleasing that his home town of St Ives has organised this centenary celebration in his honour.

"Although his centenary year is being celebrated all over the country by our most prestigious musical institutions, I have no doubt that this recognition from the town of his birth would have touched him as deeply as anything."

Brass band broadcaster Phillip Hunt added: "Mention the name of George Lloyd in any discussion regarding our most prominent Cornishmen and it is probable that you will be met with a blank look.

"Yet his name should be better known, particularly here in his native land, as the great composer he was, with his large body of accessible works clearly reflecting his Celtic origins."

The St Ives concert is the first of a series taking place around Cornwall this year. Surrey Opera will give two performances of George Lloyd's first opera Iernin on November 1 and 2 at St John's Hall in Penzance, while the Three Spires Singers and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be performing his Symphonic Mass in Truro Cathedral on November 23.

An orchestral version of HMS Trinidad will also be played at The Last Night of the Proms on September 7 in London's Royal Albert Hall.

Tickets for the St Ives Guildhall concert, priced £8 and £5, are available from crbo.co.uk or 01726-879500.

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