Death of musician Roger Stalman

PUBLISHED: 12:46 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 22:56 15 June 2010

East Devon and, indeed, the whole country, has lost one of its most respected musicians.

East Devon and, indeed, the whole country, has lost one of its most respected musicians. Roger Stalman died at his home near Axminster a few days ago, at the age of 81.I first met Roger in 1956, or '57, when he was singing the part of Jesus in a performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion, at St. John's Church, Torquay. He was a fine bass singer and at the beginning of a very promising career. Sir Malcolm Sargent took him under his wing and his name was to appear increasingly throughout the country and in London concerts, including several appearances at the Proms, and with such orchestras as the BBC Symphony and the City of Birmingham Symphony orchestra.His repertoire was mostly in the oratorio and concert sphere, including such works as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex, and the inevitable Messiah, where he joined other leading soloists of the day such as Marjorie Thomas, Jennifer Vyvyan, David Galliver and Hervey Alan. Unfortunately, throat problems brought an early end to his career and he turned to the teaching of singing in a number of universities.Roger and his wife Joy came to East Devon in 1978, where he became involved with local musical organizations, particularly Axminster Choral Society which he conducted for a short period with some fine results in the standard of the choir's singing. He was to become Honorary President of the society.Although Roger took few operatic roles, he did sing in some of the early performances of Benjamin Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and it was during preparations for this that he met Joy who was playing at the Aldeburgh Festival. Under her professional name of Joy Hall, she was considered to be one of the leading cello continuo players of the day and was continually at the call of the BBC to take such roles. Roger considered that she was the 'best continuo player in the business'. Both Roger and Joy made many recordings, some of which are still to be found in the catalogues.Roger had a very pleasant, friendly personality and will be sadly missed.

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