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Concert in memory of Newcastle University professor hits the right note


A concert dedicated to a former Newcastle University Professor of Music will launch the new season of Live in the King’s Hall.

On 3 October, acclaimed pianist Sarah Beth Briggs will perform pieces by Mozart and Beethoven in memory of Denis Matthews.

Professor Matthews was a renowned concert pianist and musicologist, who taught at the University from 1971 until 1984.

Sarah Beth was taught as a private pupil by Professor Matthews for eight years until his death 25 years ago. She said: “There isn’t a day when I sit down to play the piano that I don’t think of him.

“Although I was only sixteen when he died, I feel incredibly lucky to have benefitted from Denis’s breadth of musical knowledge for eight of my formative years and to have grown so close to someone who really awakened my love of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms in particular.”

The performance marks the first in the Live in the King’s Hall series of lunchtime concerts. It is followed on 10 October with music lecturer Sandra Kerr and friends performing new and traditional songs.

Other highlights include a centenary celebration of Benjamin Britten by tenor James Geer and pianist Ronald Woodley on 7 November, which will be followed by a public lecture ‘Britten and the Voice’ in the evening by Newcastle University’s Professor Eric Cross.  The popular Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band will return to campus to perform on 12 December.
Also launching in October is the new season of Insights public lectures, featuring a wide range of expert speakers. It begins on 9 October with best-selling author Gurcharan Das giving the social renewal lecture India grows at night: A liberal case for a strong state.

The editor of legendary actor Richard Burton’s diaries, Professor Chris Williams, will talk about the aspirant scholar on 5 December.  The actor was a giant of stage and screen but the publication of his diaries revealed his passions and unrealised higher education ambitions.

The death of Britain’s first (and so far only) female Prime Minister earlier this year sparked fierce debate about her legacy. Charles Moore, former editor of the Spectator and Sunday and Daily Telegraph, will discuss writing Margaret Thatcher's authorised biography on 12 November.

On 5 November, Professor Sir Peter Rubin will deliver the Jacobson Lecture Doctors aren’t what they used to be. The Professor of Therapeutics and Consultant Physician at Nottingham’s Queens Medical Centre will discuss the evolution of the medical profession from the 19th century to the present day.

Camilla Batmanghelidjh, founder and Chief Executive of Kids Company, will talk about caring for vulnerable young people in her talk Scaffolding and Care, on 24 October.

Dr Martin Farr, Chair of the Insights lecture programme, said: “I am delighted once again to welcome a
wide range of distinguished speakers and performers to Newcastle University.

“I am particularly pleased to welcome such an accomplished artist as Sarah Beth Briggs to perform on  our campus.  I am also looking forward to the opportunity to hear about the private desires of one of the greatest actors the British Isles has ever produced.

“The biographer of Britain’s first female Prime Minister will be able to provide a fascinating insight into a woman who continues to polarise popular opinion and whose legacy is felt decades on.”


Photograph of Sarah Beth Briggs: BalazsBorocz/Pilvax Studio

Live in the King’s Hall concerts take place on Thursdays at 1.10pm

Insights public lectures take place at 5.30pm in the Herschel Auditorium unless otherwise stated.

All concerts and lectures are free to attend and seats are allocated on a first come first served basis.

published on: 25 September 2013