A CONSCIENTIOUS CONCERT: The Music of Frank Merrick, World War 1 Conscientious Objector

CO Frank Merrick At The Piano

Date: Tuesday 2nd January 2018, Two performances at 13.15 & 15.30
Venue: Bristol Cathedral, College Green, BS1 5TJ
Pianist: Steven Kings   Soprano: Heather Ashford

No booking required
No admission charge but there will be a collection at each performance.

It will be possible to view the Refusing To Kill exhibition before both performances. Additional material about Frank Merrick wil be added to the exhibition for the occasion. The exhibition continues in Bristol Cathedral until January 8th. It will then transfer to the Central Library for several weeks.

For more information email rememberingrealww1@gmail.com

Visitors to the Refusing To Kill exhibition in Bristol Cathedral will have learnt about Frank Merrick and even heard his voice. With the support and involvement of Frank’s family we are now pleased to present a performance of some of his music.

Frank Merrick was 31 when he was arrested as an absentee from the Army in 1917. His conscientious objection was founded upon moral and political beliefs and was demonstrated by the fact that as a longstanding vegetarian he refused to kill a single living being. An absolutist conscientious objector, he spent his war in prison.

Born in Clifton, Frank was initially home educated. His talent as a pianist was soon noticed and he studied under Leschetizky in Vienna. In 1911 he went to teach at what was then the Royal Manchester College of Music where he became Professor of Music. Before the war he had been politically active in the fight for women to get the vote and had become a vegetarian, demonstrating a keen sense of social justice. In prison he managed to do a little composing (one of his Wormwood Scrubs pieces features in this concert) and he ‘practiced’ piano by pretending to play on a flat surface or pillow placed on his lap.

Eventually freed on 24th April 1919, Frank returned to the College in Manchester, later teaching at the Royal College of Music in London. In the 1960s he came back to Clifton, celebrating the 75th anniversary of his first public recital with a concert at the Victoria Rooms. In recognition of his work the University of Bristol awarded him a Masters in Music. In 1978 he was made CBE. He died in 1981 at the age of 94.

Maintaining his links with Bristol, his family lodged his papers with the University of Bristol. Several recordings of Frank’s performances were released on vinyl during his lifetime – a collection of these will, we hope, be reissued on CD in 2018.

Steven Kings

Steven Kings trained in piano and composition at St John’s College Cambridge and the Guildhall School of Music. He has performed around the country as soloist, accompanist and chamber musician, with a wide solo repertoire ranging from Scarlatti to Ligeti. He is a regular performer in Bristol, where he lives.

Steven Kings on Frank Merrick: “Frank Merrick’s music is lyrical and inventive, tonal in style but with some unusual chromaticism and harmonic colourings.”

For more information email rememberingrealww1@gmail.com

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