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A Eulogy for Ann Heeks posted by Addie on 26 Jun 2013, 9:18 a.m.

Written by Ken Heeks, Shirley Rainey and Gill Shuttleworth.

Well known local musician and teacher Ann Heeks will be in the hearts and minds of the Oldham Symphony Orchestra members and their audience when they take to the stage at Hulme Grammar School on Sunday evening. Their annual summer concert will be dedicated to Ann, their leader for the past 40 years, who died on June 4th 2013 following a brave battle with cancer.

Born in Worcestershire, Ann was the daughter of a pianist and started to learn piano at the age of 4. She had her first violin lesson at the age of 11 and quickly developed a passion for playing violin and viola which provided Ann and those around her with a great deal of happiness throughout her life. Ann studied at Birmingham School of music where she was much in demand as a freelance player. She later studied viola under Blythe Major (a former pupil of Karl Flesch) at the Trinity College of Music in London where she also studied the principles and psychology of teaching and graduated with honours. Thus began a career of some repute, embracing both the professional and amateur circuits. Ann met husband Ken over fifty years ago when they were both playing in the Midland Youth Orchestra on a tour of Germany. Their romance began on the deck of the outward boat journey whilst watching the crashing waves, and they shared their lives and love of music from that point. They were both members of various orchestras including the Leicestershire and Aylesbury Symphony Orchestras and they also performed as soloists independently and together, recently giving an excellent and colourful recital of the Bruch Double concerto for Viola and Clarinet with Oldham Symphony Orchestra in 2009. Their performance demonstrated the strong musical bond between them and Graham Marshall, reviewing the concert stated that The warmth of their understanding was obvious to all as they engaged with the sunny melodies this music gave them to exchange in loving conversation.

As a young married couple, Ann and Ken moved to Oldham in 1971 when Ken , who was a prison hospital officer, was transferred to Manchester. They settled and became active members of the Oldham Community while bringing up a young family. Their musical careers diverged when Ann joined Oldham Symphony Orchestra which rehearses every Monday evening, and Ken joined Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra who rehearse on Tuesday evenings in order to share the child minding. Ann initially joined Oldham Symphony Orchestra as principal viola, but she was soon called upon to take her longstanding position as principal violin and orchestra leader, a role she excelled in to her final days. Ken has been Principal Clarinet at Huddersfield for the past 38 years.

Ann and husband Ken have dedicated much of their lives to the music scene in the area and have nurtured many successful local musicians. Together with Ken, Ann was a founder member of the West Pennine Musical festival which they ran for 25 years and Ann was also Chairman for the North West Area of the British Federation of Music festivals for three years. For their dedication to the music world and in recognition of their work with young people in the area, Ann and Ken were invited to meet the Queen in 1991. When asked by the Queen where she was from, Ann proudly announced she was “from Oldham, near Manchester” and the Queen promptly replied “Yes, I know where Oldham is!”

Ann was a well-known and respected teacher in the Oldham area and taught at Hulme Grammar School and Werneth Preparatory School. She was well known for her talents as a creative and empathetic teacher yet she was meticulous in her approach and didn’t let a single mistake go unchecked - however hard her pupils tried to fool her! Her teaching methods were often individualistic and she was once horrified to be caught on her hands and knees by an unexpected Ofsted inspector, pretending to be a tortoise for the children. Her fears were later dispelled when she was congratulated and thanked by the inspector for giving him the opportunity to observe such an inspiring and exciting music lesson!

In her final days, Ann was still busy passing on her knowledge to others, rehearsing with Oldham Symphony Orchestra as their leader and playing with the talented Kensington String quartet, a group she enjoyed playing 1st violin with for many years. Ann lived her life with passion and gave so much in so many ways .

Ann continues to be an inspiration to countless individuals and she is a much respected and loved local musician who dedicated a large majority of her time to keeping music alive in the Oldham area. Her energy will continue to live on in the legacy she has left to the orchestra, the music community as a whole and through her talented family – husband Ken and their three children, seven grandchildren and great grandson. Daughter Dawn, who has followed in the footsteps of Ann as a gifted viola player was no doubt spurred on by her early career in the ranks of Oldham Symphony Orchestra at the tender age of 14. Dawn now lives in Australia where she is a Professorial Research Fellow (Faculty of Humanities) and Fellow of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council at Curtin University in Perth Western Australia.

Oldham Symphony Orchestra Summer Concert. Dedicated to Ann Heeks.
Sunday 7th July 2013 at 7:30 Hulme Grammar School, Oldham. OL8 4BX

The evening will be a Russian extravaganza of The Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture and the Nutcracker suite by Tchaikovsky followed by The Fairy’s Kiss which was written by Stravinsky ‘in the style of’ Tchaikovsky.

Andrew Marshall will lead the orchestra. Richard Waldock will conduct. Tickets . £10 (£6 Concessions, £3 for under 16s) - Tickets available on the door or from UK Musical Instruments Ltd, Middleton Road, Oldham.

Please come along to meet and support your local orchestra – everyone will be made very welcome.

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