As we celebrate the orchestra’s 50th anniversary, we look back to the past and remember former players. This week’s concert will be dedicated to the memory of Judith Smith, our principal bassoon for over 20 years, who died in December 2022 after bravely living with breast cancer for six years. Judith was a wonderful player who had previously played professionally with the Manchester Camerata, among others. Her proficiency enabled the orchestra to tackle some of the most infamous bassoon repertoire: most notably Shostakovich’s 9th symphony with its terrifying bassoon cadenza, which she performed twice
As well as her fabulous playing, the orchestra particularly misses her self-deprecating sense of humour, often referring to herself as ‘bad Judith’ (‘good Judith’ being Judith Ennis on flute!), and also her organisational and personal skills in ‘fixing’ the bassoon section, with the repertoire’s tendency for erratic and specific requirements of bassoon numbers! She was, above all, an extraordinarily kind, generous and self-effacing person, preferring others to take the limelight while she quietly got on with the job at hand.
Judith’s son Dominic is a member of the cello section and continues to provide us with a link with her. Dominic writes: "Judith was particularly fond of the symphonies of Brahms and Beethoven, and in fact her final time playing ‘in person’ with the Hallam was our last rehearsal before the Covid pandemic in March 2020, when we were rehearsing Brahms 4 for a concert which never happened. She would have loved the anniversary concert programme."