ALEXA VON HIRSCHBERG writes about Richard Turner: A Celebration which took place at the Royal Academy of Music last night, July 10th 2012, and about the Scholarship Fund in his name which was inaugurated at the event:
When 27-year-old trumpeter Richard Turner passed away last August his sudden loss sent shockwaves through the London jazz scene. Richard was not only a talented player, arranger and composer but he also worked tirelessly to promote gigs and festivals at the Con Cellar Bar in Camden, a much-needed hub that hosts musicians from all over the world. Richard was a dear friend to many and, last night at the Royal Academy of Music, it was no surprise to see the Dukes Hall packed full of jazz stars, colleagues, friends and family eager to celebrate his life and to inaugurate a new RAM scholarship in his name.
Organised by friends Eddy Hackett, (the other – the trombonist) Richard Turner, Richard’s mother Christine, and RAM Head of Jazz Nick Smart, the evening was a true master-class in quality, something Richard would certainly have approved of. It opened with a set from Richard’s own band, Round Trip, a reminder of just what a profound and lively composer he was.
Musical tributes followed from a collective of childhood friends from Leeds, led by guitarist Nick Svarc, his Academy classmates of ’06: Zhenya Strigalev, Adam Betts and Pete Cochrane (pianist John Escreet recorded a video-tribute from New York), and the F-IRE Collective, who composed a moving traditional Ghanaian funeral piece specially for Richard; creating meditative drum patterns as an expression of grief but also a reminder that ‘we will meet again because the road is long and we all have to take it’. The Friendly Fires spoke of Richard’s hilarious antics on tour and an all-star Richard Turner Memorial Big Band featuring Julian Siegel performed a thoughtful mix of expansive arrangements of Richard’s music, as well as pieces from the Gil Evans Porgy and Bess suite.
If ever there was a way to pay tribute to someone who dedicated their life to music then this was it. It was a privilege to know Richard, and last night it was a privilege to be around those who loved him best. Oh how we miss him! But long may the Richard Turner Scholarship flourish and continue the work he believed in so passionately.
To make a donation to the Richard Turner Scholarship Fund please send a cheque clearly marked for the Richard Turner Scholarship (payable to ‘Royal Academy of Music’) to: Sarah Harwood, Development Office, Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5HT