Kol Nidrei: Elegy for Pamela performed at Wigmore Hall
PUBLISHED: 17:36 25 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:36 25 September 2017
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It's unusual in having six composers, each of whom contributes a three minute movement that accumulates into "a quasi-requiem"
When Pamela Majaro died last year, her husband Simon wanted to commemorate her passing; and the obvious way to do it was through music. They’d been married 61 years, settling in Hampstead, and for much of that time their relationship had turned around a mutual love of chamber music – as supporters, patrons and, from 1998, as founders of the Cavatina Trust: a scheme that finances free concert tickets for young people under 26 and sends performers into schools to show how chamber music works.
Running across the UK, it has been what Simon calls “the only project in my business career where success is judged by how much we pay out”. And as the project grew, the Majaros found themselves surrounded by professional musicians, with Pamela becoming, in Simon’s words, “a mother-figure to many of them – especially the Wihan Quartet who were like her children whenever they came over from Prague”.
Considering ways to celebrate his wife, Simon’s inevitable choice was to commission something that the Wihan would perform. The consequence – “Kol Nidrei: Elegy for Pamela” - premieres at Wigmore Hall next week. And it’s unusual in having six composers, each of whom contributes a three minute movement that accumulates into what Simon calls “a quasi-requiem”.
The composers range from the well-established Cecilia MacDowall and Roxanna Panufnik to the still-studying Mika Haasler. And the risk, Simon admits, was “that we’d end up with six movements all mourning and sadness. So we talked it through with everyone, suggesting different possibilities of rhythm, tempo, style. Then when the manuscripts arrived, we chose the order they should play in. And I think we now have something that works: six varied movements that, perhaps surprisingly, make a coherent piece.”
Whether Pamela would agree is anybody’s guess. “In all our marriage,” Simon says, “we never had a quarrel, except over music. We would often play together and she said I couldn’t count.
“Well she was right, I can’t. But with this piece I’ve done my best. I think she’d like it.”
Wihan Quartet premiere Elegy for Pamela, Wednesday September 27, 1pm at Wigmore Hall. Booking 020 7935 2141