The life and talents of Huddersfield musician Eileen Bass will be celebrated and commemorated at a concert tomorrow in Armitage Bridge.
It will be an emotional evening for the many who knew Eileen, a teacher and accompanist at Huddersfield Technical College’s School of Music.
Over a career spanning more than three decades the accomplished pianist and oboist influenced literally thousands of young musicians.
According to Michael Hampshire, former head of music and performing arts at the college: “She had a wonderful empathy with the students and with people of all ages. She could put them at their ease and was a very sympathetic and incredibly well prepared accompanist.”
Eileen, who was born in Berry Brow but latterly lived in Clifton, began her own musical career at the technical college and later studied at the Royal Manchester College of Music. She was a regular prizewinner at the Mrs Sunderland Musical Festival, of which she later became an official accompanist.
Such were her skills as an accompanist that she was much sought after and travelled around the country at the request of students taking practical music examinations for diplomas and university degrees.
“She had an amazing ability to sight read,” added Michael. “People could take her some of their most difficult music and she could play it by sight. It was quite astonishing and meant that she could step in at the last moment.”
While music was her life, Eileen also had many other interests, some of which she shared with her husband Rodney, a saxophonist and clarinet player. He explained: “For ten years we owned a 40ft canal narrow boat and made extensive long range cruises throughout England, including a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon all the way from Brighouse entirely by waterways. She soon became a competent boat handler.”
Eileen was also a keen lace-maker and a long-serving member of the White Rose Guild of Lace-Makers; she played at Longley Park Golf Club, where she took on a number of official roles; and after her retirement in 1991 she joined Huddersfield Family History Society, becoming its secretary.
A woman of many parts, Eileen also found time to play the oboe in the Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra.
“She had a wonderful mind,” said Michael, “and was fascinated by all sorts of things.”
The free commemorative concert, tomorrow evening in St Paul’s Church, Armitage Bridge, from 7pm, will feature works by four of Eileen’s favourite composers - Mozart, Dvork, Faure and Schubert - performed by professional musicians, including Eileen’s former colleagues Julia Winterson and Elizabeth Wood.