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Rochdale MUSIC Society
Dr. Joe Dawson DMus MEd FLCM LTCL ARMCM FRSA MA
THE COMMITTEE 2020
CHAIRMAN Shirley Mitchell
VICE-CHAIRMAN Graham Marshall
SECRETARY Gill Dyson
TREASURER David Woonton
OTHER MEMBERS Allan Franklin, Aileen Mallinder, Garth Redmond
All the Committee members are Voluntary Trustees of the Society.
The RMS has been privileged to welcome outstanding artistes, who have graced our platforms and delighted the ears of our audiences. We have also been supported by generous Patrons. On this page we celebrate some of them.
DR. JOE DAWSON DMus MEd FLCM LTCL ARMCM FRSA MA
A very familiar figure at occasions musical in Rochdale - not least the RMS Concert series - Joe has kindly agreed to be our President following the sad death of Joe Fitton.
Joe was educated at Rochdale Grammar School and Manchester’s Royal College of Music, College of Education and University. He held senior positions in schools and colleges for over twenty years and through the 1980s was founder-MD of Rochdale Amateur Orchestra. He now teaches singing, piano and theory privately, organises Rochdale's weekly Music at Lunchtime and continues to be an active musician. An original subscriber to Rochdale Music Society he has also reviewed almost every concert since 1988 as Music Correspondent to the Rochdale Observer.
By way of distraction he studies Law and English with the Open University.
Arthur was a Chemist, the son of a Chemist, living and working in the Deeplish area of Rochdale. At the age of 40 he took a change of direction and became a Stockbroker, with offices in Manchester. He was happily married for many years, until his wife died tragically in the 1970s.
Harry Tweedale , ex Editor of the Rochdale Observer took him to the Gramophone Society Meetings, where he became a Hi-Fi Buff. It was at these meetings that he met Kip Heron, the then chairman of the Rochdale Music Society, and Jane Neave a founder member of the Friends of Rochdale Music Society. It was Jane who invited him to a concert in 1982.
He eventually became profoundly deaf, wearing a hearing aid in each ear so that he could listen to the music in stereo.
Arthur Kershaw sadly died in 1987 leaving a quarter of his residuary estate to the Music Society , and to other Rochdale societies concerned with music or drama. Since then the income from these investments has made a useful contribution to the society’s revenue each year, and small amounts of capital have been used to make good a deficit in three or four seasons. The knowledge that this capital was available has enabled the Committee to plan programmes with more confidence and with a greater spirit of adventure and innovation. In particular, the Kershaw bequest made it possible for the society to commission a new work by Sally Beamish, which received its first performance at one of our concerts in 1994 by the Schubert Ensemble of London who have since played it regularly.
The Society decided in 1987, that one concert should be designated as the Arthur Kershaw Memorial Concert, in appreciation of the late Mr Kershaw’s generous bequest.
Dorothy Greaves, one of four sisters, was born in the Wirral, but moved to Rochdale 35 years ago with her two children and late husband Frederick. She gradually immersed herself in all aspects of life in Rochdale.
When Rochdale Music Society was formed in 1981, instigated by Rhona Bennett Pointon, finance was paramount. Rhona and Dorothy, one of the early members, enrolled on the Northwest Arts Course on Publicity Promotion and Sponsorship. It was a role Dorothy fulfilled to the end. She, and Freddy her husband who was a keen photographer,meticulously kept records of every concert and the artists.
At the beginning of the 2004-2005 Season, Dorothy became Vice-Chairman of Rochdale Music Society, remaining in that office until her death, as well as carrying on her Publicity work. She will be sadly missed.
The list of organisations, for which Dorothy worked tirelessly, is endless. Her interest in, and participation in the running of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum, was instrumental in the cleaning and highlighting the graves of the Founders of the Cooperative Movement in Rochdale Cemetery for Rochdale's Year of History in 1994, initiated by the celebration of the 800th anniversary of Rochdale Parish Church and the ensuing visit of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
- Glenys Shackleton RMS Archivist
JOSEPH FITTON M.Sc.(Tech)., A.T.I., F.R.Met.S., F.R.S.A. 1925 - 2009
President of Rochdale Music Society 2003 – 2009
Joe Fitton died on May 19th, 2009. He was one of the first subscribers to, and a great benefactor of, the Rochdale Music Society formed in 1980. Joe was a man who had created about him an oasis of culture and civilization in an otherwise desert of general Philistinism. His knowledge and artistic interests and accomplishments made him a most welcome companion. Moreover, despite his wide cosmopolitan knowledge and activity, he was born locally in Whitworth, in the County of Lancaster, a county in which he took great pride, for he was truly a great Lancastrian.
Furthermore, he was born in the inter war years in 1925, and trod the traditional path to schools at Lloyd Street, the Rochdale High School for Boys and on to U.M.I.S.T. becoming a graduate before his'call-up' at 18, when he joined the R.A.F. and bcame a meteorologist.
He married Peggy in 1945 and was posted to Iceland on V.E. Day again forecasting for the R.A.F. It was Joe who provided the weather information for Clement Attlee, the new Prime Minister, when he flew across the Atlantic.
In 1947 Joe resumed his studies at Manchester University and gained an M.Sc. it was during this time he and Peggy started their family of three daughters, Valerie, Lesley and Susan.
Meanwhile interesting developments were taking place in the world of work. Joe had spent time working with George Taylor on whose premature death he took over Association Spinners Ltd. at the Durer Mill. Joe's father had a 'doubling' Mill in Whitworth, so the combined operation was a financial success. Joe was, in fact, said to be the last man to leave the floor at the Royal Exchange in Manchester!
The world of the arts was Joe's great 'stamping' ground. A watercolour artist himself, he was considered to be an expert on English watercolours. He was a personal friend of L.S. Lowry. They visited each other regularly. He was also a close friend of Leo Solomon, in charge of the Art College in Rochdale, of which Joe was Chairman for some years. Harold Hemingway, another local artist of distinction, was also a good friend.
As for music, Joe, a self-taught pianist, was a regular visitor to Glyndebourne from the early times of John Christie, Leonard Ingrams' Garsington Manor Music Festivals and a Founder Member of the new Theatre at Glyndebourne. Also on Joe's regular visiting round were the Salzburg Music Festival and the Bayreuth Opera House. Joe's was a full life, which he shared with Peggy. He was a proud father of three and grandfather of five.
RHONA BENNETT POINTON by Shirley Mitchell
You will perhaps know that Rhona was a very dear and long standing friend of mine. We became friends when she moved to Rochdale as a very new mother. She lived around the block and we soon discovered a short cut through our neighbour’s garden to make visiting easy! She readily joined the group of mothers with young children. Although her skills and talents as an architect were temporarily submerged while she cared for the first of three children, they quite soon emerged again.
With the help of a wonderful young person called Janet who came to live with the Bennett family and stayed for many years, she began to work again in her chosen field, first for Horwich Urban Council from 1959 to 1968 and then for the Rochdale Borough Architects Department from 1968-1990
During this time, she completed the building for the Police Headquaters, was project architect for the Magistrates Courts, the Horsecars Old Persons home, the Gaskill Pool in Heywood, and for a huge housing development on Division Street She was team leader of the Envelope and Block Improvements Scheme in Rochdale which was commended in the Enterprise Scheme Competition, and she was awarded by the Local Authority for her achievement in setting this up and designing it. During this time she remarried. Upon retirement, she was thanked and told that she had saved 1000 houses in Rochdale from demolition. This list of professional achievements is only a partial list!
On a volunteer basis she energetically threw herself into all manner of things. She was a collector of donations for the NSPCC, a council member for the Manchester Society of Architects, a representative on the Regional Council to the R.I.B.A., a life member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, was instrumental in the building of the Bamford Community Centre, and was Vice Chairman of the Rochdale Civic Society. She took on the job of Lady Captain of the Stand Golf Club in Whitefield for a year in her retirement. This is just to name a few of her contributions to her many communities.
In order for me to underline her amazing gifts, her enthusiasm and energies, I first needed to tell you about achievements in her professional world and about those things she did without being paid. And now I can say were it not for Rhona the Rochdale Music Society would never have existed. In 1979, spurred on by David John, the then director of the Arts and Entertainments Department, she inaugurated the Society with the idea of bringing the best affordable classical music to Rochdale. She brought together a small group of interested people to form the society and became the Chairman of Promotion and Publicity. The first season under the chairmanship of Kip Heron got off to an exciting beginning with the Amadeus Quartet followed by three other groups, Julian Lloyd Webber, the London Mozart Players, and the Tortelier Trio (father, son and daughter). When Rhona retired from the committee, she was made a Vice President of the Society. In 2001-2, she again began working for the society. She researched the archives and with information from others, compiled the Anniversary Book called “The History of the Rochdale Music Society, the first 21 Years” which took over 18 months to complete. This book received excellent press reviews.
Her husband, Trevor Pointon, who was a colleague architect in the Rochdale Borough Architect’s Department, has been her soul mate, golf partner, supporter, and in the last difficult years, her special companion and devoted carer.
The Rochdale Music Society and Rochdale owe Rhona an enormous debt of gratitude for her vision, her wonderful energies, her attention to detail, and her talent to motivate people around her.