Memories of Jane at Winchester by Fiona Smith
I married Julian Smith (music don and singer at Winchester from 1953-92, and then part-time until 2012) in 1963, and had always wanted to play the cello - a wish reinforced by hearing Francis playing Kol Nidrei at a College concert – I was intrigued by his very long fingers, and much moved by his heartfelt performance. He, and Maeve and Lucy in their turn, were all members of the National Youth Orchestra. My school, St Swithun's, wouldn't allow me to learn the cello, saying that piano and singing in the choir was quite enough music! I already knew Francis (who was then known as Buckie) and Maeve well (Maeve is nearly my twin), and Lucy a little bit...........I was fascinated by the whole family.
I learnt for a short time with Dorothy Milner, who took me along to Jane's weekly Cello Club in the College Music School - such thrilling music arranged and written out by Jane for lots of cello parts - the Larghetto from Beethoven's 2nd Symphony - Schubert's matchless motet "Gott in der Natur" (which the College Quiristers sang too under Christopher.) There were several cellists from the School, pupils of John Gwilt and of Jane, including Timothy Mason, Andrew Hoy (who had both been Quiristers)and for a short time Charles Medlam - and Clare Sealey, whose father John was a fine violinist and music don. Clare and Timothy (known then as Tiggy) were both in the National Youth Orchestra. Jane very soon took me under her wing, and gave me two lessons a week for several years, refusing any fee, and insisting on giving me a bow which I have used and treasured ever since. She introduced me to Charles Beare, whose wife Kate sometimes brought her Strad down to No. 9 Kingsgate Street and played chamber music. Charles found a lovely Betts cello for me which an old lady wanted to sell, and my grandmother gave it to me for my 21st birthday.
Jane opened up the world of instrumental music to me and in so doing she taught me how to teach - which I have done ever since, at Winchester College and at the Pilgrims' School, where the Cathedral Choristers and College Quiristers go to school. I have been so lucky to have pupils who love the cello– including Alice Neary whose father was the Cathedral Organist - and to know that in a small way I'm passing on Jane's way of playing to children who appreciate it. I am eternally grateful to Jane .........
Here's a sheet with wonderful pictures of Avocets, Oyster Catchers and Bewick Swans which she used to illustrate different bowing techniques.
When Christopher retired from Winchester in the summer of 1970, he and Jane moved from 9 Kingsgate Street up to Edrom. I, with several others, helped them to sort out the many boxes and piles of papers that had accumulated - Christopher had a huge bonfire at the bottom of the garden. Jane was throwing lots of things into the basket to take the next load to be burnt when I suddenly saw this photograph - 'You can't be going to burn that' I exclaimed..........'Would you like it?' she asked.........'I'd love to have it.......' so she gave it to me, having written 'May your leading notes sharpen for ever and ever. Amen'