Origins of Kirckman Concert Society
by Calton Younger

When Major Alfred Allnatt established The Chase Charity in 1962, he made it clear to the trustees, whom he had appointed, that he wanted to help young musicians and he gave the name of Hazel Schmid as an example of a young singer who could benefit. He had singled out her voice when listening on the radio to the choir of St James's, Piccadilly and had invited her to his home on Richmond Hill. He asked her how best he could help young musicians and she suggested that he consult Geraint Jones. Major Allnatt sent Sally Saunders, one of the original trustees and me (as Secretary of the Charity) to pick Geraint's well stocked brains.

Geraint asserted that the best way to help young musicians get on the professional career ladder was to give them platform opportunities and to continue to promote those who proved to be really talented and had the right temperament until their talent was recognised. It transpired that Geraint had long wish to form a concert society with that aim. After his death Helen Watts wrote that he "was always a great supporter of young talent and no one knows that better than I!. Long ago, in the early days of the Third Programme, he gave me so many opportunities to sing in his series of Bach cantatas. In fact, he put me on the map." Janet Baker and Thomas Hemsley (later to me Chairman of Kirckman) also owed much to Geraint. It transpired that Geraint had long held an ambition to start a concert society to further the careers of very talented young musicians. He even had the name Kirckman in mind. All he needed was a way to fund it.

Sally and I reported to Major Allnatt and he accepted Geraint's plan and Geraint and I met many times thrashing out a modus operandi acceptable to the trustees of the Chase Charity. This was proving difficult as the Chairman of the Charity had other ideas. I went to and fro between Geraint and the Trustees and Geraint attended a meeting of the trustees when finally a scheme was agreed. Geraint was to establish a concert society, independent of the Chase Charity but having on the board two Chase trustees, Sally Saunders and Donald Hall, and me. George Warburg and other friends of Geraint set up a company and registered it as a charity. Dr Howard Ferguson and Keith Falkner (later Sir Keith) were also members of the board and George Warburg became the first company secretary and financial director. He resigned after a year and I took over the roles and held them for 42 years.

With a little urging from Major Allnatt, the Chase trustees had agreed to set the grant at up to £10,000 (about £250,000 in today's money), one fifth of the Chase income at that time. The first concert took place in the Guildhall in Cambridge. Geraint's idea was to put promising young musicians with established artists and on this occasion Hazel Schmid was a soloist in Haydn's St Cecilia Mass with Helen Watts, Gerald English and Donald Bell.

Geraint Jones (1917-1998)

In the years following the Second World War, Geraint Jones explored the world of Baroque music and was influential in a return to an "authentic" performing style. Despite a sometimes hostile reaction from the press, he persevered, and, through several series of concerts as both conductor and keyboard player, he demonstrated the validity of these musical ideas.

The son of a minister, Jones studied at Caterham School, in Surrey, and the Royal Academy of Music. He made his debut as a harpsichordist in 1940 at one of Dame Myra Hess's National Gallery concerts, where he continued to appear on a regular basis until 1944. He soon became known as a virtuoso.

Immediately after the war, Jones embarked on an annual series of organ recitals at the South Bank which ran for more than 30 years. Already married and divorced by the end of the Forties, Jones undertook many concerts for violin and harpsichord with his second wife, Winifred Roberts. Together they toured the world performing neglected music of the baroque era.

By 1969 Jones was hitting relatively modern music. With the pianist Stephen Bishop he championed all of Mozart's piano concertos in a 15-month series at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

During the 1960s and 1970s Jones came to be seen as more of a musical statesman. He was artistic director of several festivals, including the Lake District Festival which he founded in 1960, Salisbury Festival (1973-77) and Manchester Festival (1977-87). But it was to the Kirckman Concert Society, founded in 1963 to provide a platform for outstanding young artists, that he devoted much of his time and energy.

His 35 years as director of the Kirckman Concert Society marked him out as a man with a great knack for spotting talented youngsters, including Stephen Bishop, Mitsuko Shirai, Hartmut Holl and the Emperor String Quartet.

Away from the platform Jones was very highly thought of as an organ designer, and was involved in the construction of organs at the Royal Northern College of Music, St Andrew's University, the Royal Academy of Music and the Academy for Performing Arts in Hong Kong.

Tim Bullamore (The Independent)

"Geraint was a very remarkable virtuoso organist and harpsichord player. I would go so far as to say the greatest organist that I personally ever heard. He was remarkable in that he combined astounding virtuosity with the most profound and true musicianship. Unfortunately, he had to give up playing the organ at a comparatively early age as a result of injuries received in a motoring accident. Happily some of the recordings he made at the height of his powers have ben reissued. After his accident, Geraint devoted himself more to conducting and teaching. But also he developed something which he had always possessed - the special ability to spot musical talent of real quality. This showed itself in his teaching, and also in his founding, together with the Chase Charity, of the Kirckman Concert Society."

Calton Younger

Calton Younger (1921-2014)

Calton Younger was educated at Kerang High School in Northern Victoria and Melbourne High School as well as at "The Barbed Wire University" in Stalag Lufts III and IV. In 1939, on leaving school, he intended to go into journalism for he had shown a flair for writing and drawing since childhood. However, the war intervened and instead he volunteered for both the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. The latter was the first to express interest and he was called up in August 1940. After completing the No.5 Course of the Empire Air Training Scheme, he qualified as an observer - as navigators were then known. In May 1941 he sailed for England and in September of that year he began his operational training at Lichfield in Staffordshire. In February 1942 he was posted to the newly-formed 460 (Australian) Squadron, 1 Group, Bomber Command.

On the night of the 29th/30th May 1942, Bomber Command put up seventy seven aircraft to bomb the Gnome and Rhone aircraft factory at Gennevilliers, north west of Paris. Five planes were lost including Cal's and he was one of only three crew members to survive. After a week on the run in France he was captured and spent the rest of the war in prison camps in Germany and Poland. These experiences shaped the man and were reflected in his interests and priorities throughout the rest of his life. His abhorrence of oppression and understanding of freedom; his unsentimental compassion for those in difficulties; his general love of the arts and appreciation of beauty all underpinned his family and professional life. He was not keen on public speaking and indeed could be reserved in large gatherings, but his early promise in writing and drawing blossomed into an easy accuracy with words and pencil - the latter producing a constant flow of cartoons. But he was a serious wordsmith and historian. The recently re-published No Flight from the Cage recounts life in the prison camps. His other published works include two important books on Irish history as well as a biography of Arthur Griffiths and one novel (Less than Angel 1960). In addition, he edited The Kriegie, the quarterly journal of the RAF Ex-POW Association. On a different level, but influential all the same, the papers he prepared in his work for the Trusts were peppered with word pictures and humour which sometimes persuaded when the case itself was in danger of collapsing.

There was a very real link between Cal's POW experience and his work as a grant-maker. The first Red Cross parcel he received was accompanied by a note from a Mrs Marjorie Peel who, Cal found out after his return to England, was the sister of Major Allnatt, the Chase Charity's Founder. In 1962 at the request of the Founder, Cal became the first Secretary of the Charity. In 1968 he was asked to take on responsibility for the Lankelly Foundation, founded by Ron Diggens, a business colleague of Major Allnatt and in 1977 he added the Hambland Foundation (also established by Mr Diggens) to his already considerable workload (these three trusts now form the LankellyChase Foundation).

Throughout his 27 years with the Trusts, Cal's understanding of how charities develop, the skills required and the part charitable grants might play was informed by his generous personal involvement, and likewise with the first initiative of the Chase Charity, the Kirckman Concert Society.

Cal retired as Secretary to the Trusts in 1989 but that didn't affect his workload very much even after he and Dee moved from their home in Ealing to Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire. He accepted an invitation to become a trustee of the Hilden Charitable Fund and, on the death of Angus Allnatt, the son of Chase's Founder, he helped establish the charitable trust which bears his name. For almost 25 years after he retired, Cal travelled up and down to London to various trustee meetings on a regular basis, and continued working till the end, always with great thought and quality. In the latter years, he was much called on to talk about his wartime experiences and the role of Bomber Command. He regularly attended the Armistice Day Parade and he was greatly pleased that the fifty-five thousand men who lost their lives in Bomber Command had at last been officially recognised with a new memorial. He took full part in those celebrations. His final unfinished work was a collaboration with two other authors to commemorate the Great Escape, writing an introduction and an epilogue to a book containing brief biographies of the fifty men who escaped from Stalag Luft III in 1944 as well as biographies for the seven Australians involved.

There is something very fitting that Cal should die between the passing of one year and the beginning of the next. His is a rare legacy, full of truths which remind us of what has been and examples of how we ourselves might approach the future.

Peter Kilgarriff, former Chief Executive, LankellyChase Foundation