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St Helens Sinfonietta


40 Howards Lane


St Helens

WA10 5HY

Phone: 01744 600630



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Ted Kirk - Memories

I read of Ted Kirk’s death in the last Sinfonietta newsletter with great sadness. I, too, was a Prescot Grammar schoolboy (1952-59) and recall with great affection the 40 minute period (2 pm – 2.40 pm) on Thursdays in the room  next to the Woodwork room, when boys in the 6th form studying Arts or Science subjects, but not specialising in Music, were introduced to classical music by Ted. We affectionately called him ‘Joe’, though I don’t know why. I can see Ted now  standing with his back to the wall, eyes closed, listening to a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth or Tchaikovsky’s 4th symphonies. His method of teaching was to outline the idea, to us non-musicians, of themes, developments, recapitulations and codas. He would write these names on the board and, as and when particular symphonic movements entered each of these phases, he would silently indicate each with a motion of his arm towards the blackboard. This was a superb method of teaching in that it introduced us to the basic structural elements of classical music and the need to concentrate and stay quiet in order to recognise and appreciate them. I grew to love classical music very quickly as a result of these lessons. I joined the Classics Club which Joe introduced us to and bought three records which I still have. My appreciation of classical music, always a solace, dates back to Joe’s classes. I owe him a very great debt. He was a very fine teacher, one of those whose contribution to an enjoyment of life one appreciates more and more as the years pass by.

David Wilcock, Carlisle, February 2018.