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The Hilliards’ Farewell Concert

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The end, when it came, was warm, joyous, touching and stylish. The affection of the Wigmore audience filled the hall and everyone positively breathed love at the guys from the first note (Perotin) to the last (Remember me my Dear). The proceedings began with a pre-concert conversation between the group and the legendary Fiona Talkington (one of the most engaging and clued-up broadcasters around). Penny and I missed the start of the talk as we somehow managed to get lost between King’s Cross and Oxford Circus, and creeping in to the hall I gradually became aware that almost everyone I’d worked with over the last four decades was there. Wonderful to see so many old friends – some of whom had travelled thousands of miles for the occasion. Any worries that it was going to be mawkish or sentimental were dispelled right at the start – as soon as they walked on we knew the guys were going to carry it off. Gordon Jones’ links between pieces were perfectly judged and elegantly done – and it was great to hear once more Piers Hellawell and  Roger Marsh, then finally to see the hilarious entr’act from Heiner Goebbels’ I went to the house but did not enter. It was a great way to go.

The next day those of us most closely associated with the group were treated by them to a magnificent celebratory lunch at Caffe Caldesi. Everyone was still reeling from the night before, and it was a sumptuous and incredibly generous goodbye from David, Rogers, Steven and Gordon. Thankyou guys. What a hard and brave decision it must have been to set a date and end it all – but what a fantastically stylish way to leave the scene.

I’m still reeling too. The Twittersphere is awash with tributes, but Erica Jeal’s Guardian piece encapsulates the occasion perfectly.

 

Happy New Year all!

 

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