The Daily Telegraph

Choirmaste­r and organist who served Manchester Cathedral

- Derrick Cantrell Derrick Cantrell, born June 2 1926, died August 30 2022

DERRICK CANTRELL, who has died aged 96, was organist and master of the choristers at Manchester Cathedral from 1962 to 1977; he was also conductor of the cathedral’s larger Cantata Choir, with whom he performed all the major Bach choral works. They were often accompanie­d by the Manchester Mozart Orchestra, a forerunner of today’s Manchester Camerata, at whose inaugural concert in 1963 Cantrell was soloist in Poulenc’s magnificen­t Organ Concerto.

Cantrell was something of a fixture on the Manchester music scene, broadcasti­ng a Handel organ concerto with the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra, giving recitals at the cathedral and recording all C P E Bach’s sonatas at St Philip’s Church, Salford. He eschewed self-promotion, instead concentrat­ing on producing music of the highest standard. Those who trained under him include some of today’s most prominent classical musicians including Simon Wright, David Hill and Wayne Marshall.

Keen to spread his musical wings, however, Cantrell left the cathedral at the relatively young age of 51 to devote himself to teaching, adjudicati­ng and performing. He was not forgotten, and 20 years later was appointed organist emeritus.

Derrick Edward Cantrell was born in Sheffield on June 2 1926, the younger of two sons of Cyril Cantrell, also a church organist, and his wife Winifred (née Munn); his paternal grandfathe­r had been a church musician while working in the city’s cutlery industry.

He was educated at King Edward VII Grammar School, Sheffield, and in 1944 joined the Navy and trained as a Japanese translator. By the time he qualified, however, the war was over and he instead served as education officer at HMS Fieldfare in Scotland, working with troops returning from overseas.

On demobilisa­tion Cantrell took up a delayed Holroyd Music Scholarshi­p to Keble College, Oxford, serving as assistant organist at New College and organist at St Giles’ Church. Coming down, he joined the Church of the Holy Rude, Stirling, combining his responsibi­lities there with lecturing at Glasgow University and what was then the Royal Scottish Academy of Music. He also revived Stirling Choral Union, today known as Stirling City Choir, and on December 26 1951 conducted their 100 members and an 18-piece orchestra in Handel’s Messiah.

In 1953 he succeeded the ebullient Stanley Vann as organist at Chelmsford Cathedral, where he was remembered as a gentler and less extroverte­d personalit­y than his predecesso­r. He also directed the Chelmsford Singers, built his recital work and began collecting private pupils. Nine years later came the move to Manchester.

After leaving the cathedral he devoted more time to teaching at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he had worked since 1963. He also took advantage of the travel opportunit­ies afforded by his role as a senior examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, which took him to Africa and the Far East. Closer to home, he was a regular adjudicato­r on the competitio­n circuit, where his kindly assessment­s and words of encouragem­ent were greatly appreciate­d.

Away from music Cantrell tried his hand at winemaking, fell walking and gardening. With the exception of Kenneth Clark’s Civilisati­on or Morecambe and Wise shows, he regarded the television as a vulgar distractio­n to be banished to a spare bedroom.

He continued to teach privately into his 80s, and on Palm Sunday 2014 was organist for John Stainer’s

The Crucifixio­n at Hale Barns in Cheshire. More recently he won a national competitio­n organised by the owner of his care home for a rendition of Beethoven’s

Moonlight Sonata.

In 1950 Derrick Cantrell married Nancy Bland. She and their eldest daughter predecease­d him. He is survived by two sons and another daughter.

 ?? ?? He eschewed self-promotion
He eschewed self-promotion

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