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Sir Roy Strong welcomed as Elgar Chorale's new patron

  • "YOU'VE nailed me!" Sir Roy Strong exclaimed to delighted members of the Elgar Chorale when they formally welcomed him as their new patron at a special gathering at the Elgar Birthplace.

    The former director of the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum was given a tour of the Birthplace by the Vice-Chairman of the Elgar Foundation and Birthplace Trust, Sam Driver-White before hearing the Chorale, conducted by their musical director Donald Hunt perform a short programme of music.

    Also listening were various Chorale Vice-Presidents, Patrons and Friends.

    "This is only the second time in my life I have been greeted with song," Sir Roy told the assembled audience, explaining that the first time was the occasion of his 70th birthday celebration which was held at the National Portrait Gallery. The choir for that occasion was the Choir of Westminster Abbey!

    Sir Roy succeeds Dame Janet Baker as the Chorale's Patron.  The world-renowned singer and interpreter of Elgar's music stepped down from the position after 30 years due to family commitments but in a letter of farewell read out at the gathering by Chorale chairman Michael Latham, she said she couldn't think of a better choice for her replacement than Sir Roy as someone with 'such distinction, charisma and humour'.

    Michael added that the Chorale was delighted to welcome Sir Roy and hoped to see him as often as possible.

    The new Patron said he'd accepted the role for two reasons. Firstly, when he and his late wife, theatre, television and film designer Julia Trevelyan Oman, bought his Herefordshire home, The Laskett, they were told Elgar was a regular visitor to the house and "used to pinch the maids" while the widow of the composer's friend and colleague, organist Sir Percy Hull lived nearby.

    His other reason was his wife's creation of the ballet Enigma Variations, which since being premiered at by the Royal Ballet in 1968, has become a staple of the dance repertoire.

    When I was asked to be patron of the Elgar Chorale, what could I say,' he added.  "I will do what I can for you and do everything I can to be present at your concerts.

    "Thank you for this very gracious and original welcome - and if I am patron for as long as Dame Janet Baker, you will still have me when I am 107!"

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