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Birmingham Town Hall

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
I've written before about the TH, when I sang in the youth choir, but I think it's worth reflecting on its glory days.

I also wrote about my Grandfather who played his part as a miner by attempting to rescue his friends when they were entombed in Hamstead pit. Well it was at our Town Hall that the medals were presented in 1908. Each one was inscribed with a name and the date, some were gold, my gt Uncle Jim was given one of those, Grandad's is silver. They must have been overawed, those chaps, by all that went on that night. They never left the village, there was no need they had everything there that any man could want didnt they? The Lord Mayor presented them with their medals watched by most of Hamstead and lots of dignatories. Among them the Chief Constable, Chairmen of Handsworth and Perry Barr District Councils, The vicars of both Hamstead and Perry Barr, The editors of the Birmingham Daily Mail and the Evening Despatch, and the Government Inspector of mines. They were given dinner and afterwards there was 'entertainment'. There was a recital on that lovely organ, a brass band and songs from two soprano's.

All this was lost in the mists of time, I doubt my mother ever knew of it, she never spoke of it. I had to unearth it as part of my genealogy research.

The 50's for me were the Golden years of the TH, when I went to listen to the Big Bands. Dave Brubeck was majic, and the brass section of the Stan Kenton band made the hairs stand up at the back of your neck. Humphry Littleton's jazz band was a regular as was Chris Barber. Programmes were torn up, folded into paper aeroplanes and thrown at all the English bands.

Mario Lanza, film star no lesss, was booked to appear and I couldn't get tickets. But it was at the end of his life when he was a sick man, and the concert was cancelled.

It has been sad to see it closed for so long, I hope when it does re-open the City Fathers are worthy of it.
 

sylviasayers

master brummie
Diana, in tonight's Birmingham Evening Mail is a photo and story about the organ, it has been removed for storage to protect it during the refurbishment scheme. The project is scheduled for completion in 2007.
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
Thank you for telling me that Sylvia. I was overawd when I first saw it as a child and am so glad it is being well taken care of.
 
C

colinwilliams1

Guest
I was told that the first person to play the organ at the Town Hall was HANDEl

Is this Myth or fact

I can remmebr seeing many Prog Rock bands there and jazz stuff including Buddy Rich, Woody Herman, Oscar Peterson
and some greta blues including Sonny Terry and Brownie Magee , and a guy called Big Joe Wrencher who was a one armed harmonica player . I saw Count Basie at the Odean in new st .
 

Di.Poppitt

master brummie
The Odeon in New Stree had the Jazz at the Phil tours in the 50's. Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz,Gene Kruper all in one show. We got our money's worth. :D

TOWN HALL?
 

jennyann

master brummie
Staff member
Town Hall

Hi Colin: If it's George Frederic Handel you were thinking of as being the first musician to play in the Town Hall. Could it possibly be Felix Mendelssohn? Since Handel died in l759 and the Town Hall opened in 1834. I'm not an "anorack" but I know Handel was a bit earlier on, if you know what I mean. :lol:

In l960 I worked in Queen's College Chambers, Paradise Street and in
my lunch hours I used to go to the free concerts sometimes held in the Town Hall. Well known organists would come and play the organ. The City of Birmingham Organist..George Thalben-Ball also used to play at these lunch time concerts from time to time. He was knighted in 1982 and resigned his position in Brum the following year. His successor Thomas Trotter has held this position since l983. I used to sit quite away back with my lunch and take it all in. After years of church organ music at Erdington Parish up to that point I loved going in there and listening to the power of that wonderful instrument.

Still like organ music today and often listen to "AnOrganist Entertains" on BBC 2 Radio.
 

Icarus

Ancient Brummie
The Grade 1 listed building is due to re-open in 2007 and will have state-of-the-art light and sound technology.
 
K

Kenneth Wanstall

Guest
For those who don't know there is part of one of the town hall columns in St Phillips churchyard marking the grave of one of the workmen who died in its construction, and Elgars dream of Gerontius was first played at the Town Hall.

Also I appeared at the Town Hall, aged 10, in a schools concert, circa 1955.
 

jennyann

master brummie
Staff member
I didn't know that info Kenneth. Thanks. I'll look for it next time I am there....the column that is, in St. Phillips churchyard. Several of us on this forum have memories of our appearances at the Town Hall in school concerts. I remember singing "The Steiner Cuckoo" at mine. It was great that the schools had these concerts in the Town Hall. They were always well attended and all these years later we remember them.
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
Re: The Town Hall - not only Elgar

Sorry, I never got on with Elgar's 'Dream of Gerontius', especially when we had to listen to it at school.
So far as Town Hall firsts is concerned, my hero is Felix Mendelssohn, who gave his first performance of his oratorio 'St Paul' there in September 1837, when the building was still brand new. There is a complication there, because Robert Bowley, the new secretary of the Sacred Harmonic Society in London tried to muscle in and persuade Mendelssohn to play the piece at the Exeter Hall, three days before the Birmngham booking. The Chairman of the Birmingham Festival asked Mendelssohn to abandon the earlier London performance, so he offered to give a London performance on the Saturday after the Birmingham event. The London people could not or would not manage that, and must have persuaded Mendelssohn to let the London society have the score, which they performed, under the direction of their resident conductor, Joseph Surman on Saturday 12 September, before the Birmingham performance, with Mendelssohn himself sitting in the gallery!
Nine years later he introduced 'Elijah' 26 August 1846, over a year before its first performance in German at Hamburg on 7 October 1847. I think this was a much more substantial work, but I may be biassed, because it was my first time singing the bass line in the chorus at the Town Hall on 3 March 1950. My voice had just about broken then, and I was so fascinated to sing something different from the 'top line'.
Fifty years ago, the Town Hall was often used for CBSO concerts for schools, but I suppose the orchestra is no longer funded directly by the Corporation, more's the pity.
Peter
 

Michael_Ingram

master brummie
The work seem seems to be comming along well the wraps are off the top off the Town Hall are now on the Chamberlain Memorial
 

The Baron

master brummie
Spent many a happy night at the old town hall watching such band , groups and singers as PAT BOON,BUDDY HOLLY & THE CRICKETS,SECOND CITY JASS BAND ,TED HEATH & HIS BAND.JONNY DANKWORTH with CLEO LANE,LONNY DONAGAN to name but a few.
I remember we used to run down New St to Jim's Bar for a drink at the intermition (as it was too crowded at the town hall bar)
They were days of coffee bars and Italian suits, motor scooter such a time of freedom, no fear of being mugged in the City.
Ho how I miss those days.
ASTON
 

brummie nick

master brummie
Aston, did you sit at the back of the bands, make 'airplanes' out of the programs and throw um down. great fun, used to go to the Jazz and Blues concerts, some good night had by all.

Nick
 

The Baron

master brummie
YES & DO THE HAND JIVE,ALWAYS SAT AT THE FRONT FOR THE BIG SHOWS LIKE LIONAL HAMPTON & LOUISE ARMSTRONG
aston
 

brummie nick

master brummie
I saw LOUISE ARMSTRONG at the Embassy rink in Walford Road, sat by Humphrey Lyttelton who was there to watch Louie.
 
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