John Ward

Long standing supporter and RCM Patrons' Circle member John Ward has been attending concerts and supporting students at the RCM for more than 20 years. His keen interest and passion for the piano has led to him supporting our annual keyboard festival and contributing towards the purchase of new pianos at the RCM.

Have you always enjoyed music?

At boarding school I used to play the euphonium in the band, but I couldn’t play it now! When I left school I played in the Hillingdon and Uxbridge town band and the Watford Silver Prize and British Legion Band, but then I was called up for National Service and that was the end of my playing career.

When did you first become involved with the RCM?

It was long time ago. At that time I was working for British Airways and I used to fly into Heathrow and come straight up to the RCM to hear a concert. After a while I thought it would be a good idea to join the RCM Friends scheme. After a few years, I moved up to Best Friend, then Benefactor and now I’m a member of the Patrons' Circle. I just find it such a lovely place. Everyone who works here is so friendly and warm, and is always pleased to see you.

Who first introduced you to Classical Music?

My love of classical music was inspired by a group of Salesian priests in Blaisdon in Gloucestershire. One priest in particular encouraged me to take up the euphonium – he was a very wonderful, retiring man.

In fact, I could have become a musician; I once played Eine kleine Nachtmusik on the euphonium for one of our concerts with a priest accompanying me. The next morning I got a call from the Rector’s Office, who said that the Commandant of the Gloucestershire Regiment had been at the concert the previous night and was offering to take me into the Regiment as a Band Boy and send me to Kneller Hall. I quickly said I didn’t want to earn a living playing music; I just wanted to enjoy it. I also didn’t want to join the army until I had to.

When did your interest in piano music begin?

I became very passionate in piano about 20 years ago when I met a remarkable young pianist called Juliet Allen. I always say I’m her oldest ‘groupie’ and still enjoy her performances today. From then on I became a keen listener to piano music.  I would have liked to learn the piano as it’s something you can do on your own, unlike the euphonium where you really need a band!

I’ve recently decided to make a gift in my will to the RCM and last year I decided to give some of that gift early towards new pianos because of my love of the instrument, and they’re now sitting in the Parry Rooms up at the top of the Blomfield Building. Leaving a gift in your will makes sense from a taxation point of view.

What draws you back to the RCM?

It’s the place, the whole ambience here is so friendly. I like to bring others with me too, including my granddaughter. I’m really pleased my son is now also an RCM Friend.

I enjoy coming to all the RCM Friends events, it’s particularly nice when there’s a drink or supper event along with a concert and it’s a real pleasure to meet and talk to the students themselves. The RCM Friends is also a wonderful network. There are so many interesting people to talk to, some are experts but others are just music lovers like me.

This interview first appeared in Upbeat (spring 2013) the RCM magazine.

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Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS. Tel: +44(0)20 7591 4300 Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BS.
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