CLS MEMORIES: Joan Atherton

Posted on: February 1, 2022 in: CLS Memories

Joan Atherton has been a regular member of the violin section of CLS since the very first concert in March 1971. Here, Joan recalls that first performance and her CLS journey since. 

Richard Apley, who I think had been at Cambridge with Richard Hickox, telephoned to ask if I would play with a new band, the Richard Hickox Orchestra and Singers. I hadn’t heard of him, and I thought it would be a run of the mill choral date. The concert was at St John’s Smith Square: Bach’s Magnificat and Ich habe genug with John Shirley-Quirk, a renowned singer at that time, and I remember thinking that Richard was a really good choral conductor. The orchestra was led by Roy Gillard, and I knew a few other violinists, including Eddie Roberts and Peter Pople (long-time CLS members). 

My diary shows that I played in a few more concerts in 1971, including a concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which the BBC broadcast, and a Bach St John Passion. In December 1972, we performed the Watkins Shaw edition of Handel’s Messiah. Although Watkins Shaw had completed his edition in 1965, it wasn’t very well-known, and the BBC were very excited to broadcast the concert. I played regularly with the orchestra until 1978, when I cut back on my professional work to raise my family. In 1996, I was asked by Eddie Roberts to deputise for him at a CLS concert and I was both surprised and embarrassed when Richard made a speech at the start of the rehearsal welcoming me back! 

I think I have played in every CLS Season since then and I’m proud to still be a regular extra with CLS 50 years on. I love the camaraderie of the Orchestra, making music with my friends and the repertoire is always interesting. I think Richard would be very proud of what the Orchestra is doing now.