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MEMORIES OF CYRIL GROVER (article first published : 2004-01-3)

Pianist Ann Muir and soprano Gwyneth Lloyd add their memories to the tributes to Cyril Grover.

Ann Muir and her husband William Muir, principal viola of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, were at the Royal College of Music in London from 1958 to 1962, at the same time as Cyril Grover.

“However, neither of us was aware of this fact, he obviously moved in different circles,” says Ann. “In fact, it was not until William rejoined the then SABC orchestra in 1976 that Cyril, who had recently begun work there, approached him and said that he recognised him from the College.

“When we moved down to Durban, when the KZNPO started up in 1983/4, I began to do recordings with the SABC and discovered that Cyril had been transferred here. I can't say that I was over the moon, but somehow we forged a working relationship. I was working as accompanist with a large variety of artists, and saw Cyril in many different moods. He could be equally supportive and scathing, but he was always extremely painstaking with everything he did. When the programme was finally packaged, you could be quite sure that it had been meticulously prepared. He used to do a lot of his own announcing, and this included research into the music being performed.

“One of the highlights was a group of Greek songs set by Matyas Seiber which Gwyneth Lloyd recorded with me, produced by Cyril. He told me later that he had entered it for the annual Best Serious Music recording at the SABC."

Soprano Gwyneth Lloyd was a part-time singing student at the Salisbury Rhodesian College of Music in the late 60's, while doing her BA at the local university.

“In my last year I got it into my head to try for my Performers Licentiate in Singing,” remembers Gwyneth. “I had only grade five theory and needed grade 8. Cyril rolled his eyes heavenward and said how long did we have? - three months! Eyes again! Well, he would teach me if I undertook to make it plain to everyone that he was not responsible for my results! We worked hard for three months and together we got 88%! He published my results in the Rhodesian Herald! Years later, when he and I were working on his own beautiful Shakespeare Sonnets for SABC, I said I had forgotten it all - "No, you haven't, it's all in there, contributing to what you are doing now". His three Shakespeare sonnets were most rewarding and I still have a wonderful cassette copy.

“Cyril opened up recording opportunities for me that I will never forget and I will always be grateful to him for his patient teaching of the ways of the studio. If the sonnets can be of use, they will be at the SABC or my copy can be used,” says Gwyneth who can be contacted on e-mail: starways@worldonline.co.za




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