Monthly talk

Monthly Meeting: 19 February 2020 - 9.30am
Doors Open 9.30am for refreshments
Venue: Beccles Public Hall
Talk: Mu Gurbutt Exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show

It has become a tradition at Beccles U3A for the monthly meeting to be followed by a Guest Speaker. As you will see from the list below, the subjects are very varied.


January 2020

The Trumpet shall Sound - Recollections of a life in music - Ray Simmons

Ray Simmons was Principal Trumpeter for two decades with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra enabling him to work with some of the world’s finest conductors and soloists. In that capacity he also had the privilege of sharing the platform with some of the great jazz artists of the day such as Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Rich, even taking part in a mid-Atlantic jam session on the QE2 with Andre Previn.

Throughout his time in London he was very active in the London session scene in addition to teaching at the Guildhall School of Music. In 2001 after a five year stint with the Stavanger Symphony in Norway he retired from full-time trumpet playing and now lives in Beccles where he is delighted to have rediscovered a talent for, and a love of the jazz piano.

Ray ran briefly through his career in orchestral music. This started in 1960 by finding a cornet in a cupboard at school and then experimenting to learn to play it. He went to music college and there received formal training. He moonlight gigged in the early days - mainly dance band music. He told us how the position at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was not salaried but paid by performance and so was a very insecure environment. He also said that sometimes he found performing terrifying as you were only as good as your last performance.

Ray used lots of music to illustrate his points as he went along and played several examples live on his trumpet.. Ray also arranges music and two variations on the tune Swannee River were demonstrated - in Bix Beiderbecke and Miles Davies styles – both unmistakable.

He also regaled us with an anecdote of his trip to Madrid where the flight was delayed by 3 hours and there were lots of very vocal passengers. Ray had his trumpet with him and so played various pieces of Spanish music such as ‘Viva Espana’, Pasa Doble and Valencia. After that the Spanish passengers were all laughing and cheering.

Ray mentioned a trio called Palomar; comprising Ron Hockett (clarinet and alto sax), Craig Hipperson (drums) and Ray (keyboard and trumpet). Ron was famous American jazz musician and was 'discovered' busking in Norwich - it was not long before he was hooked into the local jazz fraternity.

Ray concluded with a piece of jazz piano by Andre Previn, which Ray said was crying out for a solo - so he accompanied live, Andre on his trumpet - wonderful!
Ray is taking part in a fundraising event on Wednesday 13 May in aid of St. Michael’s Church Beccles.

Thank you Vicki John for your report and a lively, musical monthly talk.

Up and coming talks

Wed 19 February 2020: Mu Gurbutt Exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show

Wed 18 March 2020 - Toby Capwell from Wallace Collection in London Talking about Armour

Wed 15 April 2020 - Emma Ratzer from Access Community Trust Working in the community and helping the socially isolated

Wed 20 May 2020 - David Murton Astronomy for Beginners

Wed 18 June 2020 - Sally Dearman Changing from flying fighters to helicopters

Wed 16 July 2020 - Jim Graver The Big Issue

Wed 19 August 2020 - Robert Tilney Antiques Roadshow

Wed 16 September 2020 - Joy Hawkins - Medieval ideas on Contraception and Conception

Wed 21 October 2020 - TBA

Wed 18 November 2020 - Stephen Ashworth - Kitchen Chemistry

December 2020 Christmas programme yet to be finalised

Review Past Monthly Talks