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Kenneth Loveland and the Gift

The death of a man as active and influential as Ken Loveland at once raises the question of how that activity and influence can be continued and built upon in his absence. There are after all, two types of memorial. There is the lapidary tribute, carved in a stone, a reminder to those who pass by and a comfort to those left behind. Ken certainly deserved, and has received, such memorials – in the simple gravestone at Llantilio Crossenny, and in the fine low-relief portrait bust at the St.Davids Hall, Cardiff. But there is a great deal to be said for the second kind of tribute: the kind that seeks to encapsulate a life’s work and re-embody it in some practical form. With Ken such a memorial was the easiest thing in the world to envisage, and, thanks to the generosity of his many friends and admirers, it has been only a little harder to formulate and set in motion. This memorial is the Kenneth Loveland Gift

Ken was by any standards a splendid journalist and a fine writer on music. But what he would surely most want to be remembered for is the practical help and support he gave to musicians, not only through his critical writings but also through personal contact, day-to-day advice and encouragement. From his earliest pre-war days as a Home Counties reporter and passionate concertgoer, he seems to have been fascinated by the physical drama of musical performance – its triumphs and disasters, its outsize personalities, its improbable or probable incidents. In later years, he could turn such memories into unforgettable anecdotes. But he also had a way of storing experience in practically useful forms. He developed an outstanding eye and ear for new performers and gifted young composers. He was famously among the first to praise the talent of singers like Gwyneth Jones an Margaret Price, and, more recently, Rebecca Evans and Bryn Terfel; and it was through him that several of the best young Welsh composers of the fifties and sixties became know outside Wales.

Ken’s travels as a music critic often took him to places where new young artists were to be seen and heard, and his opinion was valued by those whose job it was not only to engage the famous and expensive. But musicians themselves also frequently sought his advice in private. He had written so much about music and knew so much about its world that he could quickly grasp the needs of such situations. And he knew how to give advice; he had written me at a time when I was contributing London reviews to the paper he edited, the South Wales Argus. The mixture of compliment and discreet suggestion was just the kind of encouragement an inexperienced young writer needed. It must have been much the same with the many young musicians he numbered among his friends whom one often met at his flat or with him at concerts, operas or music festivals.

The idea behind the Kenneth Loveland Gift is to continue his work of discreet but eminently practical encouragement. It would have been easy to devise some grandiose Prize with high profile but – if one were honest – limited effect. But Anne and her fellow trustees have instinctively preferred an award that supports and enables in a quieter but no less crucial way. One can hardly doubt that Ken would have approved. <Stephen Walsh>

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