Gladys New - An Obituary

May 1907 to October 1995


Photo of Gladys New

Many of you will have read of the death of our President on 4th October 1995 in Andover Nursing Home, and a good number of friends and Club members were able to say farewell at her funeral service in St Mary’s Church where she had worshipped for nearly 70 years.

Gladys was born in Hungerford on 7th May 1907, the only child of musical parents who encouraged her own innate musical talent. After the First World War her parents moved from Taunton to Andover where her father was to manage Curry’s Cycle Shop in the Upper High Street. After completing a secretarial course Gladys followed them in 1925. She concentrated on her singing career with many engagements in the South of England and in the London area, culminating in a successful audition for the newly formed BBC. She gave her first broadcast in the week of King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935.

She was very conscious of a large birthmark on the side of her face which affected her vision in one eye, but of course for broadcasting this was no problem. When Max Factor invented ‘Covermark’ and gave her a professional make-up in Bond Street she felt a new woman!

In 1938 her father died, and although she had thought of taking her musical career to London, she felt that she had to care for and keep her mother, so she took over as manager for Curry’s (single-handed for the six war years), living above the shop. She continued her broadcasts on the BBC national and world services, sang in local concerts, and performed with a choir she had formed.

Her mother died in 1953 leaving her alone in a job she hated, but she was now able to buy her first car (a Ford 8) which enabled her to travel. In 1962 she was able to give up work and have a home of her own for the first time in her 55 years.

In the meantime her service to music included teaching singing and piano, concert critiques, festival adjudication for Andover & District, charity concerts, management of the County Youth Orchestra, and Assistant Director of the Hampshire Rural Music School in Romsey with Cicely Card. She became a Committee Member of the Southern Region of the Southern Arts Association, and Council Member, Federal representative and Chairman of the National Federation of Music Societies.

In 1946 with a group of friends she formed the Music Group of the Andover Community Association which became Andover Music Club in 1958. As support grew, concerts were moved to the Guide Hut, the Guildhall, the Grammar School, Winton School and finally to Cricklade (College) Theatre (now The Lights and part of Test Valley Borough’s Leisure service) in October 1976. With only a short break in 2005-2007, whilst the Theatre was rebuilt as a separate building independent of the College, Andover Music Club has held its concerts there ever since.

Gladys was not only the founder of Andover Music Club but also its Secretary for 46 years, and also its Treasurer for many years, assisted by a small committee of hand-picked musical helpers who supported her expert choice of musicians. Many of these young and up-an-coming artists subsequently became big names, including Isobel Baillie, Evelyn Barbirolli, Simon Rattle, Jacqueline du Pré, Leon Goosens, Jack Brymer and many others. By the time of the 40th Season on 1986/7 Club members had seen and heard 3 orchestras, 13 conductors, 70 instrumentalists, 45 pianists, 38 voice and instrumental ensembles and 37 solo singers. By the time Gladys gave up the secretaryship she had personally organised nearly 250 concerts. It was not surprising therefore that five attempts were made since 1982 to have her efforts recognised in the Honours List, but sadly all were unsuccessful.

In 1991 with failing health and loss of sight Gladys reluctantly retired. She spent her last years in the Andover Nursing Home with only tapes and the radio for the music which had been her life.

A very large number of friends, musicians, and music lovers who never met her, will be for ever grateful for her vision, tenacity and leadership; and the cultural life of Andover has been all the richer.


Published with thanks to Dr Arthur Blyth, Chairman 1968-1992.

 

Photo of Gladys New



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