Many Happy Returns to conductor James Loughran, Barbirolli’s successor at the Hallé, 89 today. Jun 30, 2020 | News, Ramblings | 12 comments A few years ago I met James Loughran at a lunchtime function and we had a pleasant chat, and he also bought me a beer. 12 Comments Monica McCabe on June 30, 2020 at 2:19 pm Again, birthday greetings to James Loughran. He was great fun, and a wonderful friend to John, both performing and recording his works. He was not well treated by the Halle, at a time of a palace revolution there. We still exchange Christmas cards. Surprisingly, to me, he shares a birthday with my dear maternal grandmother, which will make it easy for me to remember. Obviously an auspicious day…. Reply PETER LONGSHAW on June 30, 2020 at 9:02 pm As well as the CHAGALL WINDOWS (see below) I loved your husband’s Hartmann Variations premiered by Maurice Handford (another conductor I adored but players thought badly of). The Halle programmed it for the last night of their proms as it is such a loveable piece. Reply Hughie Naismith on August 27, 2020 at 1:32 am Yes, a bit late right now to wish James Loughran a happy birthday, but will send him best regards anyway – please pass them on if you can! I spend a fair amount of time teaching music as well as playing, and people always ask ‘what were your first memorable musical experiences’? ‘Jimmie’ at the Proms on TV, which I used to see at home, formed a large part of them (not just the Last Night: he did so much). This said, he brought such a sense of enthusiasm and style to the Last Night of the Proms. As a child I loved watching and listening to all that; imagine my sense of pride when, only a few years later, I performed with him in various concerts with a youth orchestra. And in person, in rehearsal, he was so clear and calm about what to do; he had just the right professional distance – by no means any unnecessary showmanship when on the job. I know there’s been a lot of debate this year about the last night of the Proms. I often wish that Jimmie could be persuaded to return to conduct it! Reply John Boyden on June 30, 2020 at 3:29 pm I made a stack of recordings with Jimmie including all the Beethoven symphonies, a set that (annoyingly) never made it to CD. I always found him to be a delight. We had to use the Free Trade Hall, with its awkward platform, which was far from matching the Bridgewater Hall. Monica is right about the backstage tensions. Following on from Barbirolli, a living God in Manchester, cannot have been easy, yet I never saw him be anything but positive and keen to do his best by the composer. They were happy days for me and I hope for him. Many happy returns to you Jimmie Reply PETER LONGSHAW on June 30, 2020 at 8:57 pm thank you for those great LPs which I still cherish on cd. I remember the Eroica LP cleverly done with movements 2; 3; 4; 1 to avoid distortion. The Elgar symphonies are hugely undervalued and I love the Rachmaninov 2 still. Reply John Lill on June 30, 2020 at 7:57 pm Hearty Congratulations, dear Jimmie. I’ve been honoured by working with you as soloist for around 120 concerts since 1965. They have all been a joy to give and continually inspiring under your unique mastery. The Hallé Orchestra was lucky indeed that you immediately continued from Sir John Barbirolli for many years of packed concerts but I find it disgraceful that you are lacking in the praise you so deserve from the orchestra you so admirably developed. The many thousands of music lovers you created in your audiences speak for themselves. Your powers of architecture and orchestral balance are second to none and your infectious, warm personality is all but missing in today’s clinically correct but all too boring, overrated types. Very well done! I shower you with praise and rich admiration. You have enhanced my own career immeasurably. Reply PETER LONGSHAW on June 30, 2020 at 8:51 pm As a schoolboy the Halle were my heroes as was JL. The players do seem to have unkind words to say about him but he kept their profile high with that Brahms CFP cycle, especially. I remember the premiere of John McCabe’s CHAGALL WINDOWS with a documentary on ITV (those were the days!) and recorded by EMI. Later at a performance of the piece in Guildford under Charlie Groves (when we still had an orchestra) the composer kindly signed my programme from the premiere. His EMPEROR with John Lill was the finest I have heard. Of so many concerts I will mention one that I took my Latin teacher to: it began with a Havergal Brian symphony (whom JL championed), then Brendel played the 3rd Beethoven and during the Brahms 3 Brendel stood at the side circle to hear the performance, Clearly he rated JL. A fun concert was when he invited the second violin on the front desk (another Scots Jimmie) to play the Bruch Scottish Fantasy, still the only live one I have heard after 45 years. He brought the wonderful SCO he founded to the Halle Proms (2 weeks of real concerts then, not Harry Potter themes) with the last 3 Mozart symphonies in one concert. Was he the first to do this? He was a natural for the Last Night of the Proms (Boulez was never going to do it!) and introduced Auld Lang Syne. My first ever concert of thousands was Jimmy: the Hindemith Concert Music for Strings & Brass (a piece I adore but sounded strange when I was 15); VW concerto with Lady B and the EROICA. How I miss live concerts…the internet fodder does not work for me. Reply Monica McCabe on July 1, 2020 at 8:02 am Thank you, Peter Longshaw, for your kind comments, and warmest greetings to both John Lill and John Boyden. There was a certain music critic, now dead, long resident in the Manchester area, who seemed to be very antagonistic to both orchestra and conductor. His lacerating criticisms were often destructive rather than constructive, and came close to destabilising the orchestra – or so it seemed to me, as an outsider. Reply EDWARD CLARK on July 1, 2020 at 11:01 am Happy Birthday James. I collected your Brahms Symphony cycle with the Halle on CFP. They remain benchmark performances for me; entirely natural, unforced, lyrical and yet powerful as well. You got excellent playing from the Halle too. A truly great achievement along with a relatively few classics in my opinion. Reply Ates Orga on July 1, 2020 at 2:29 pm An EBU bicentenary Beethoven symphony cycle, which Robert Simpson produced for broadcasting with the LSO in 1970 – the orchestra slimmed down, with natural trumpets, no doublings, hard sticked timpani – stays firmly in the memory. The first time I recall having heard the scherzo of the Fifth in its five-section ur-form, ABABA. One wonders if the BBC kept these performances in their archives or destroyed them in the “interests” of space saving. If the former, then it would be good to have them resurrected and re-mastered. Here meanwhile is 51 minutes of birthday Brahms – the Second Concerto with John Lill and the Halle, 1982, producer John Boyden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYFMem-ktAI Reply Paul Davies on December 22, 2020 at 10:30 pm I only came across this site recently. I wondered why Mr Loughran did not appear much in the UK. I was at the concert following the judging of the Philharmonia Young Conductor’s Competition. I think that the Competition was organised by Humphrey Burton and the judges were Messrs Klemperer,Boult and Giulini. The concert was preceded by Otto Klemperer conducting the slow movement of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony in memory of Sir Thomas Beecham who had died a few weeks before. Mr Loughran won the competition and I think Brian Priestman came second. He accompanied the concerto and in the second half of the programme Mr Loughran conducted Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony. It was easy to see why he was the winner. With a clear beat and an obvious command of the score he encouraged the orchestra to play beautifully and give of their high octane best, where required. Mr Loughran’s time as associate conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra was noteworthy particularly when he took over a performance of Handel’s Messiah at very short notice following the indisposition of Charles Groves. He had never conducted the work and was commended for the rousing performance which he encouraged both choir and orchestra to give. I also remember a concert featuring Dvorak’s fourth symphony and Hindemith’s Cello Concerto with, I think, Joan Dickson as soloist. Mr Loughran seems to be yet another British conductor who has been undervalued by his fellow countrymen. Reply sydney mann on December 28, 2020 at 2:46 am Dear Mr. Loughran, I was very fortunate to have James Loughran as conductor when I was soloist in the Mendelssohn E minor violin concerto. The orchestra was the BBC Scottish It was a studio performance in Glasgow .Now when I listen to the off- air recording I am so appreciative your sensitive music making, not only in the accompanying sense, but in the overall meaning of the piece, Belated greetings, Sydney Mann [now Manowitz] Reply Submit a Comment Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.