Very special gala concert

RE: Spa Orchestra

Thanks for your excellent feature on the Scarborough Spa Orchestra the other week.

(I must add that I wished this precious gem ‘the last seaside orchestra’ was in safer hands than the current council - my own view)

I would like to draw your attention to a forthcoming gala concert that has a very special significance for the musical heritage of this town.

On August 2 the orchestra in their 100th year will celebrate Yokshire. Scarborough’s own unsung hero of music will be remembered with the performance of a work last heard at the Spa over 70 decades ago.

Eric Fenby was born 1906 in Candler Street, he attended Gladstone Road school and was a chorister at Holy Trinity Church. Later he was to become organist there and at St Martin’s Church, on occasions he played to accompany the films at what is now the Futurist Theatre.

Inspired by the Spa Orchestra then under Alick Maclean, he went on to find a unique place in musical history as portrayed in the highly successful Ken Russell film abut composer Frederick Delius - A Song of Summer.

Eric was close to Tom Laughton, famous hotelier and brother of actor Charles Laughton. It was Tom who persuaded Eric to develop on a little ditty that he whistled as they walked across Lockton Moor and to write it down.

Eric thought how this Yorkshire ditty On Ilkla Moor Bar Tat would sound in the style of another composer; somewhat in the mode of Joseph Copper on the BBC2 programme Face the Music years later.

Set to work on this task after years of devotion to Delius, Eric was shocked to see his new work advertised on various bill boards across the town - to be performed the following week to coincide with the cricket festival.

Nevertheless he rose to the occasion and produced a work that was so successful that it was played repeatedly at Spa concerts for years later. Now over 70 years later Paul Laidlaw is bringing Rossini on Ilkla Moor back to town.

Jayne Strutt

Delius Society

Scalby Road

Scarborough