Ham&High music critic who truly loved his subject

FRIENDS of Ham&High classical music columnist David Sonin have rushed to pay tribute after he died on Tuesday morning

Tan Parsons

FRIENDS of Ham&High classical music columnist David Sonin have rushed to pay tribute after he died on Tuesday morning.

Mr Sonin, who was a correspondent for this paper for almost 10 years, lost his long battle with cancer.

Susie Gregson, one of the founder members of the Proms at St Jude's festival in Hampstead Garden Suburb, said: "David was a true friend of the Proms. He did so much to encourage music within the local community by encouraging amateur groups and through his thoughtful reviewing of international stars.

"He loved the Proms. He was always so enthusiastic. He was genuinely so excited, calling it the musical highlight of the summer. He fondly referred to it as 'a summer house party. A couple of years ago, to his great delight, we presented him with his own Proms badge and lanyard.

"When he finished waving his flag on the Last Night, he would tell us that he couldn't wait until next season.

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"He will be missed by us all on the Proms committee who welcomed his constructive comments, by the Friends and sponsors who chatted with him in the marquee, by the musicians he wrote about and by our charities who benefited from his honest promotion of the festival. Our thoughts and love go to his wife Gilly. May he rest in peace."

Mr Sonin was born in London in 1935 and before the outbreak of World War Two. as a child, he and his family moved to Sydney, Australia where he attended Sydney Grammar School and later Sydney University.

He served his National Service for the Australian army and then began a career with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In 1963 he met his wife Gillian when he came to London for a holiday. They married the following year and he joined VisNews - a subsidiary of the BBC - as a sub-editor reporting on international affairs.

He later moved to ITN where he continued to work as a sub-editor, and later worked as a public relations director for various Jewish charities.

In the late 1970s he returned to 'journalism proper' for the Jewish Chronicle, rising to the position of Arts Editor. In this role he found his passion with all forms of arts.

In 1999 he joined the Ham&High, writing on the musical subjects closest to his heart. He is survived by his wife Gillian, who is a musician, and his son Adam who is a writer.

Chris Ashley, chairman of the Highgate Choral Society, said: "I've known David for seven years and I'm very sad to learn of his passing. He was a great friend and supporter of the Highgate Choral Society and he loved music, loved people and loved life.

"It was also our privilege to welcome him and his wife Gilly in recent years on our foreign travels to Venice and Prague. We send our deepest sympathies to Gilly and her family."

George Vass, artistic director of the Hampstead and Highgate festival, said he was saddened to hear of David's death. "He was always a great supporter of all things local in the area but he maintained a national perspective on music making. He will be sadly missed," he said.

David Temple, who is conductor for the Crouch End Festival Chorus, also said: "I had many conversations with David and he reviewed lots of our concerts for the Ham&High.

"I would like to say on behalf of the chorus how deeply sad we are about his passing. He was always very kind to us and interested in our work. Our condolences go to his friends and family."

Bridget Galton, features editor of the Ham&High, added her tribute to one of the paper's longest-serving correspondents.

She said: "David's weekly page became a byword for knowledgeable, supportive coverage of the area's thriving classical music scene. He made many friends among local performers and promoters while retaining respect as a fair critic. His exhaustive music knowledge will be a hard act to follow."

Mr Sonin's funeral is at midday today (Thursday) at Cheshunt Cemetery in Hertfordshire.