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Classical special: Julian Lloyd-Webber

PUBLISHED: 16:15 30 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:39 29 October 2010

Keen to encourage young players, Julian Lloyd-Webber has got involved in Yarmouth's MusicQuest.

Keen to encourage young players, Julian Lloyd-Webber has got involved in Yarmouth's MusicQuest.

Tony Cooper

Julian Lloyd-Webber made a memorable first arrival to Norfolk, remembers TONY COOPER, ahead of his performance in Great Yarmouth's Symphonies of the Sea. Now he's behind a oproject to turn young people on to music.

Julian Lloyd-Webber made a memorable first arrival to Norwich, remembers TONY COOPER, ahead of his performance in Great Yarmouth's Symphonies of the Sea. Now he's behind a drive to encourage young people to love music.

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I first came across the world-renowned cellist Julian Lloyd Webber in 1981 when he came to Norwich for a concert promoted by the Norfolk and Norwich Triennial Festival in one of their inter-festival events at St Andrew's Hall.

I greeted him on arrival at the Festival Club - based at the Maddermarket Theatre - after he'd travelled up from London in a rather cramped Mini.

I still remember the colour. It was white - and it looked a fine set of wheels. He was carrying valuable cargo, too, as the 'backseat driver' was none other than the 'Barjansky' Stradivarius, dating from round 1690. And that's worth a mint - a hell of a lot of Minis!

A child born in the early 1950s, Julian is the second son of William Lloyd Webber, a classical composer and a former professor at the Royal College of Music, while his elder brother, Andrew, needs no introduction.

A scholar at the Royal College, Julian had the distinction of studying in Geneva with the famous French cellist, Pierre Fournier. This was in the early-70s and since those inspiring and fruitful days he has worked under the baton of such luminous figures as Lorin Maazel, Sir Neville Marriner and Sir Georg Solti as well as crossing the musical divide playing alongside such household names as Stephane Grappelli, Cleo Laine and Elton John.

He made his professional debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London's South Bank in January 1972 giving the first London performance of Sir Arthur Bliss' cello concerto written for the master Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

But among his many recordings his finest is reckoned to be the Elgar with Yehudi Menuhin conducting the Royal Phil. It won him a Brit award in 1985 and the BBC Music Magazine praised it as the best ever.

JLW has premiered more than 50 new works for cello and has inspired new compositions from composers as diverse as Malcolm Arnold and Joaquin Rodrigo to James MacMillan and Philip Glass. But despite his heavy performance schedule JLW has found time to chair the government's community development project, In Harmony, aimed at using music to bring positive change to the lives of young children.

The programme encourages youngsters from deprived areas and backgrounds in getting involved in music-making with a full-size symphony orchestra. The idea was spawned from the movement El Sistema, founded in the early 1970s in Venezuela by José Antonio Abreu, an economist and musician.

Through the herculanean efforts of Joe Mackintosh, executive director of SeaChange Arts Trust - the organisation responsible for presenting the Hippodrome concert series - he has got the Borough involved in a similar young person's scheme entitled MusicQuest and to this end the Philharmonia Orchestra will be coming to Yarmouth on February 13.

Funded by Classic FM Music Makers and supported by Yamaha Music UK, MusicQuest is actually a three-year project that'll introduce a new generation to the power of live classical music.

Each of the students involved will meet musicians from the Philharmonia in a hands'-on workshop before attending the concert. The workshops will give pupils a chance to try a Yamaha instrument and learn different percussion rhythms with a professional musician.

Bravo!

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