David Marsh was born in 1937 and brought up in Alperton, Middlesex, moving to Kenton, Middlesex in 1948. Both his parents were musical, his mother being a pianist of family sing-song and easy classics standard, and his father having a good knowledge of the standard concert repertoire as a listener.
David spent four years at a grammar school whose music tuition was singing rather than to GCE level, and optional class violin lessons. On leaving school he went for violin lessons to local teacher Gladys Crocker, a pupil of Albert Sammons. He rose to the dizzy heights of Grade 5 ABRSM, but over the years through experience is probably approaching Grade 8. Some years after leaving school he passed O level English Language, French Language and Music. Later on he took up viola, which he prefers these days, and played in local amateur orchestras. Before National Service he worked for J W Walker and Sons, organ builders, then Goodwin and Tabb Music Librarians, and then for the Performing Right Society.
Following two years’ National service as a clinics clerk in the Royal Army Medical Corps, he worked in industry for many years as a shipper, taking early retirement in 1992. Over the years he has dabbled in composition, also getting the chamber music bug in the early 1960s. In the mid 1970s he started attending a music course run by a very competent amateur violinist, John Humphries (not the news presenter). John is excellent at grouping people to get the best out of the holiday, which although brilliantly organised, has no tuition element, is rather informal, and totally enjoyable. About the same time David joined a short-lived but delightful madrigal group. John’s holiday started at Brantwood in the Lake District, moved to Broneirion in north Wales, then to St. Margaret’s at Cliffe in Kent, and currently runs at Bedstone College in Bucknell, Shropshire. Orchestral sessions, chamber music, choral music and even “Barber Shop” are among the varied possibilities.
David’s training in composition is minimal, consisting in cursory readings of C. H. Kitson’s Elementary Harmony and other books in similar vein. In 1999 he wrote a pizzicato piece originally called “Two Minutes and Thirteen Seconds” (later dubbed “Show Some Pluck”) as a novelty item to try in the string orchestra at the Broneirion Music Week. The first performance was at the 5.15 pm string session on Friday the 27th August 1999, and was conducted by the late Trevor Williams, that fine violinist and teacher, the timing being two minutes and fourteen seconds, which says much for Trevor’s musicianship. The piece won immediate approval, and Trevor said that as we had the composer there, perhaps we should play it again. Several players in string orchestras asked for copies, and it acquired a very localised reputation as a good encore piece. Indeed David had deliberately avoided one possible repetition to keep it short !
John Humphries suggested that David write a piece annually for the strings, and this has become a tradition. David has the tongue-in-cheek title of “Composer in residence”. His self-admitted rather shallow knowledge of harmony suits him for a style best described as “British Light Music”. These pieces do not live for a day, he recycles them as background music for another hobby, that of cartoon animation which he took up from 1983 to 1988. For several years he took holiday cine movies of Broneirion, tacking on animated opening and closing sections, for showing at winter re-union parties. About three years ago he was persuaded to take up the hobby again, this time digitally, and of course he draws on his archive of holiday string pieces for musical accompaniment. His heroes are Walt Disney’s classical animators, and Richard “Roger Rabbit” Williams.
He is active in local orchestra West London Sinfonia where he is a violist, and the cello fixer, under the excellent direction of conductor Philip Hesketh. He is also a facilitator and “Groupie” of St. Matthew’s Choir. Ealing, who often join WLS in joint concerts. For non-joint concerts requiring an orchestra, David is fixer or orchestral manager.
David believes that people’s interests makes them interesting, indeed he likes the St. Matthews’ people because they all do other things like musical shows or dramatics. A high spot of the week (not the only one) is to have a glass or two with the choristers after their Thursday evening rehearsal, and talk about everything from music to computers to way out authors to old movies. The pub, the Sir Michael Balcon, Ealing is colloquially known as “The Hereafter” after a conversation there about a rehearsal at St.Matt’s first then “here after” Indeed, he is closing this CV now in the interests of making this week’s refreshment in time, it being a Thursday.