Dam Busters final tribute to beloved Australian musician

Richard Gill. [Pic: Sydney Morning Herald]

Graeme Jensen, an old friend of the Dambusters Blog, has alerted us to this lovely story from Sydney, Australia.

Richard Gill was a well-known and much-loved musician, conductor and educator who had spent decades bringing music into the lives of generations of Australians. And, over the years, he had frequently told friends and associates that his favourite piece of music was Eric Coates’s Dam Busters March.

He became seriously ill with cancer some time ago, and so some colleagues decided to organise a special concert on Monday 5 November, the day after his 77th birthday, as a tribute to the work he had done over the years. Knowing that Gill would not be able to attend, it was arranged that it would be beamed live to his home. The concert quickly sold out.

However, as it became clear the conductor might not live even until the concert to witness the celebration, Sydney Symphony Orchestra associate principal trumpet Paul Goodchild decided to organise a spontaneous concert for his mentor. He told local news outlets that he expected 15-20 people to turn up outside Gill’s house in the Sydney suburbs on the morning of Saturday 27 October.

Instead, more than 70 people – including a police brass band – arrived to play for Gill, who was inside with his family and his close friend Kim Williams by his side.

“This was the perfect way of saying thank you, goodbye and a great tribute to somebody who has made so much of a difference, to not only the lives of musicians, but to everybody who really listens to music,” Goodchild said.

The musicians played The Dam Busters March as their tribute. Williams says that when applause broke out after they’d played the piece, Gill opened his eyes and smiled.

He died the following morning.

The impromptu concert was filmed by flautist Jane Rutter. The video below should work, but if it doesn’t, you can see it in this report from the Business Insider Australia website.