Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CH CBE 1934-2016

At LCO we were all deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies earlier this week. He was an inspiration to us all, and a dear friend of the Warren-Greens. Reflecting on her experiences with ‘Max’, our Education and Outreach Artistic Director, Rosemary Warren-Green shares the story behind the great composer’s special contribution to this year’s LCO Music Junction project, and the great musical legacy he leaves behind.

 

The Passing Of Max

What a huge loss to the world and the world of music. Max was a supernova: all genius, passion, intensity and pure brilliance.

I was fortunate to be the violinist in the Fires of London where we became close colleagues. I wrote to Max last year and told him that as my husband Christopher and I both have 60th birthdays coming up, we have made a wish list of 60 wonderful things to do. At the top of my wish list was the chance to have a tune written by Max for Music Junction, LCO’s children’s project. His wonderful reply was so typically giving and humble. “Let me know what form you would like the tune to be in. A fiddle tune solo? A fiddle tune for string orchestra? I need to know and trust I can come up with something useful.”

I was overjoyed and we planned a trip to Orkney (another feature high up on the 60 list!). Max invited us to his home on Sanday and we spent a magical, quite life-changing day with him. He was between chemotherapy visits and fighting back with a will of iron. He showed us his Music Room and played Farewell to Stromness on the piano, he showed us wonderful treasures that he had picked up on his travels. At one point he handed me a Roman glass and we marveled at how light it was (he clearly didn’t remember how clumsy I am). We mulled over old times over several glasses of wine and ate perfect simple pasta and salad that he’d cooked. It was so peaceful and we felt so privileged. It felt so right to be with him discussing ideas, old times and new, and it was with great sadness we had to rush off to catch the ferry back home.

We pride ourselves at Music Junction on running a project that can affect real social change as well as a musical education, working with young people from all walks of life. That appealed to Max and he was looking forward to the finished piece composed by Cheryl Francis-Hoad, with contributions from all the children on the project. His tune is the catalyst for our performance in May at Cadogan Hall. He wrote on the manuscript “Dear Rosemary, Arrange and extend and improvise on this little tune as you will.”

Dear Max, you will be so so dearly missed and we dedicate our performance to you.

Rosemary Warren-Green, March 2016

LCO and Music Junction participants perform a world premiere composition by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, inspired by the theme Rousay Wedding Dance by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, at Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square on Friday 6th May 2016. Visit http://www.cadoganhall.com/LCO for more information.