Alnwick, Recorded Music Society

Thelma Pallas entertained members with a walk down memory lane when she chose music concerned with her life.

At school Thelma enjoyed singing, but at home her most important source of music was the radio. There was only one BBC programme so Thelma scanned the airwaves for foreign stations. The problem was identifying the music as announcements only came at the end of a piece and were often in a language she could not understand.

One of the pieces was Bach’s Double Violin Concerto so her first choice was a movement played by David and Igor Oistrakh with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Goossens.

Piano lessons came next, and at senior school she was encouraged to participate with others in music making. They played chamber music such as Schubert’s Trout Quintet. Thelma’s next choice was an excerpt played by Sviatoslav Richter with members of the Borodin Quartet.

An unforgettable experience was a school trip to Middlesbrough to hear Sir John Barbirolli conduct the Halle Orchestra in Schubert’s Ninth Symphony. This was the first time she had heard the full force of an orchestra in live performance. She chose a recording of the last movement played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini.

Thelma enjoyed Latin and it was a delight to be able to sing in Latin when she went to Kings College Newcastle. Her choice of music was the Kyrie from Anton Bruckner’s Mass in E minor, sung by the Stuttgart Kammerchor.

At teacher training college she encountered recorders and learned to play. She enjoyed Vivaldi’s recorder concertos and played an excerpt by Peter Holtslag with The Parley of Instruments.

When Thelma moved into her first home of her own, a small flat in Houghton-le-Spring, an early purchase was a Dansette record player. She and her husband soon started to build a record collection, following the advice of the BBC Music Magazine. Jussi Bjorling was always a favourite and Thelma chose a recording of the Flower Song from Bizet’s Carmen.

On moving to London they settled in Ealing, where they brought up their four children. Opportunities to hear live music were scarce, but they did manage to attend operas at Stowe School. We heard the finale of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in a recording from the soundtrack of the film Amadeus.

Thelma loves the organ and it was an unfulfilled ambition to learn to play. She chose part of a Guilmant Organ Concerto, performed by Ian Tracy with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier.

Her final choice reflected her strong Christian faith with a rousing performance of The Trumpet Shall Sound from Handel’s Messiah, performed by John Shirley Quirk with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Colin Davis.