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Tribute to the town's very own music man.

Byline: VAL JAVIN

HE IS Huddersfield's music man. The musician who has led by example, sung, played, conducted and perhaps more importantly, taught and inspired generations of young music-makers.

Next month, Ken Rothery's unique contribution to music in Huddersfield will be celebrated in a concert at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Thank You For the Music will feature some of the many musicians and singers that Ken has worked with throughout his long musical career.

Holmfirth Choral Society, Hade Edge Band and Huddersfield Choral Society Junior Choirs will all be paying tribute to the man who has made music his life. The Sunday afternoon concert on October 11 (2.30pm) will also feature soloists Nigel Rothery (baritone) and Stephanie Helliwell (mezzo soprano) with guest soloist, the internationally known mezzo soprano Margaret McDonald.

For many, the concert will offer a fitting tribute for a man who has devoted his life to many of the town's musical organisations. Ken (he is seldom referred to by his full name of Kenneth) was born into a musical family. His parents sang in the local church choir and his mother was a member of Huddersfield Choral Society.

Little wonder that Ken was encouraged to sing in Sunday School and that he quickly learned to play piano. He and his wife, Mary, both joined the church choir in their teens.

Ken served in the RAF and after the war became a teacher at Kirkburton Secondary Modern School where he swapped science for music and became head of the department.

Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, shows and school choirs made school life - and after school rehearsals - very busy.

After the war, church youth clubs and amateur dramatic societies flourished and Ken was involved in both. He also joined Huddersfield Choral Society and having sung with them for 55 years was recently awarded a life membership. In the mid Fifties, while still a choir member at Parkwood Methodist Church, Ken was invited to become choirmaster at neighbouring Longwood Methodist Church.

Eventually he paired that job with the choirmaster's role at his own church and when the Parkwood organist died, Ken agreed to take on that too. As is often the case, the temporary job as organist at Parkwood become permanent and today almost 50 years on, Ken can still be found playing for services there.

All of that would have been enough for most people, but not for Ken. When Honley Gilbert and Sullivan Society were looking for a musical director in the Seventies, Ken took on that job and enjoyed 25 years of concerts and productions with them.

Another decade on saw a new challenge. Huddersfield Choral Society formed its youth choir and Ken, keen to work with young people, took on the conductor's role. He retired from that job several years ago and is now the choir's Conductor Emeritus. Ken has also recently passed on the conductor's baton he has wielded with great success at Holmfirth Choral Society.

That too was a position that he held for almost 30 years and one that saw the Holmfirth choir flourish under his care.

These days, Ken is content to share his passion for music through his weekly U3A music appreciation class in Huddersfield and in directing Singing For Pleasure and Enjoying Music holidays at venues around the UK. Ken continues to play for church choir rehearsals at Parkwood and conducts its annual Messiah.

Over the years Ken has given free music lessons to many young people. Doubtless some of them will be at the Town Hall on October 11 to pay tribute to a man who has contributed so much to music-making in the town. Tickets for the concert, which is in aid of Kirkwood Hospice, on 01484 424374 or on 01484 666827.

val.javin@examiner.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

MUSIC MAN: Musicians and singers from across the town will celebrate Huddersfield's very own music man Ken Rothery (above) with the help of internationally renowned mezzo soprano Margaret McDonald (left)
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2009
Words:659
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