DID SO MUCH: John Lowles, left, has inspired a concert by classical pianist Ida Pelliccioli, right, at The Witham
DID SO MUCH: John Lowles, left, has inspired a concert by classical pianist Ida Pelliccioli, right, at The Witham

THE first music recital in 18 months at Barnard Castle’s arts centre has been dedicated to the memory of John Lowles in recognition of his life and contribution to classical music.
The John Lowles Memorial Concert at The Witham tomorrow evening (Thursday, July 8) will see Italian-Croatian classical pianist Ida Pelliccioli perform music by and influenced by Beethoven.
Shelagh Avery, from the Witham, said: “This concert is extra special as it is the first recital in 18 months – but it’s particularly special as a memorial to John Lowles who did so much for piano music.
“He taught so many people in the dale and was a lovely supporter of The Witham.”
Music teacher Mr Lowles, who died last year, raised £10,000 through seven concerts four years ago to purchase a piano for The Witham.
When a concert grade piano was given to the arts centre in a long-term loan, Mr Lowles and fellow fundmanager Anita Haire offered to refund all donations. However, many people asked for the cash to be used to provide more classical piano concerts at the venue. Mr Lowes and Ms Haire used the cash to help develop a classical programme of concerts, attracting international musicians to perform to a growing and appreciative audience.
Members of Mr Lowles’ family will be at this week’s concert, which will be introduced by Hazel Spencer, of the Witham trust. Ms Haire said: “It was important to us that we back classical music, particularly piano music, and I spoke to Jill Cole who told me about a scheme for encouraging young people in school to get them to play. The idea was that we will pass a pot of money to The Witham in John Lowles’ name for that to happen.”
The £5,000 fund will help pay for music lessons and buy instruments for children whose families may not be in a position to purchase them.
Ms Avery added: “If we are doing something to allow John’s love of music particularly the piano to live on, The Witham will continue to collaborate to develop the classical programme.”
With restrictions easing, The Witham has also expanded its team, appointing Jane Woodward as marketing officer to help promote the venue and the forthcoming events, exhibitions and concerts. She said: “Jane has taken on the marketing role and has a particular passion to do everything really efficiently. She herself is a trombone player in Barnard Castle Band.”
Tickets for the concert cost £12 and are available at www.thewitham.org.uk