It was such a treat to attend the celebrations for Sir Neville Marriner’s Centenary from 15 April. Brilliantly devised by his family and by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, this week-long ‘festival’ was a remarkable tribute to Neville, his achievements and his legacy.

I attended two of the three concerts that week, beginning with ASM’s return to its church, St Martin-in-teh-Fields on 15 April. As a past member of the orchestra it was such an evocative evening with repertoire that brought back the orchestra’s history so vividly. From Handel’s Concerto Grosso Op 3 No 2 from the earliest days of the orchestra, to Mozart 25 that was such a striking part of the Amadeus film and then to the Academy Chorus and St Martin’s Voices performing of sections of Haydn’s Creation it was an evening to remember. It was great to hear Errolyn Wallen’s Parade, too, offering new input to ASM’s repertoire. Perhaps the most touching moments in this concert came in Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis – quintessential Academy and its unique string section. With direction form Joshua Bell, Jaime Martin and Tomo Keller and with soloists Sarah-Jane Brandon, Ben Johnson and Matthew Rose, this was a vintage evening.

I had a chance to look at the exhibition in the Crypt of St Martin’s that night, where photographs, programmes, letters and other memorabilia were displayed. Here, and in speaking with so many former and current members of ASM, I felt drawn back into this remarkable ‘family’ of musicians.

I missed the ASM Chamber Ensemble in the Wigmore Hall at which Sally Beamish’ String Octet was performed along with the Mendelssohn Octet and Schumann Piano Quintet but I did make it to the Royal Festival Hall on the 18 April where ASM celebrated Neville’s love of Mozart and also performed Brahms 2 Symphony and Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, played and directed by Joshua Bell. Wonderful playing all round. Most memorable though was Vince Mendoza’s Flight of Moving Days in which Joshua Bell was joined by Neville’s grandson, Douglas Marriner for a concerto for violin and drum kit – beautifully sensitive playing and a fascinating way of acknowledging the three-generation Marriner family of musicians. The concert included touching tributes to Neville from Brian Kay, Sally Beamish and Bob Smissen all finely done with charm and the humour that Neville would have expected.

Behind all these performances the guiding spirit of Neville’s son, Andrew, was ever-present to those who know ASM. And, of course Molly Marriner too – without whom ASM could never have flown so high…

What an inspiring week and what memories…….

A photograph portrait of Neville Marriner
Sir Neville Marriner
Andrew Marriner
Douglas Marriner
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