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Sad news: England’s foremost manager and mentor is no more

We have been informed of the death, at home on Friday night, of Stephen Gray. He was 89.

Stephen co-founded the Chelsea Opera Group in 1950 with the critic David Cairns, leading a vast expansion of British opera perspectives, starting with Mozart and broadening out into Berlioz and far beyond. Their first conductor was a 22 year-old clarinet player, Colin Davis.

Stephen went on to become general manager of the Walter Legge’s Philharmonia Orchestra, then of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, making it (under Sir Charles Groves) one of the most vibrant orchestras in the land.

More significant than his achievements are those he mentored from their very first steps in the music profession. Here is a short list, for starters:


Colin Davis

Simon Rattle

John Eliot Gardiner

Mark Elder
Andrew Davis
Barry Wordsworth
James Judd

Managers and administrators:
Ed Smith (Birmingham, Toronto, Gothenburg)
Brian Pidgeon ( BBC Philharmonic, now Chandos producer)
Jane Moss ( ex Philharmonia Administrator, RPO Orchestra Manager)
Andrew Burn (Bournemouth)
Russell Jones (ABO/AOL)
Nicholas Matthias (IMG Artists)
Alan Shenton (ex Virgin Records)
Andrew Bennett ( Ulster, Philharmonia, Northern Sinfonia, Oporto).

Tributes will follow. May he rest in peace.

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  1. I was in the Liverpool Phil for a couple of years in the early 80s when Stephen was in charge. He was a kind, compassionate manager and was very understanding and supportive when I eventually decided to give up playing and go into management through the City University Arts Admin course. Rest in peace, Stephen.

  2. John Pattrick says:

    When I ran EMI Records UK in the mid 70s to early 80s, we had a wonderful working relationship with Stephen and the RLPO producing most of Sir Charles Grove’s recordings of English music, Bliss’s Morning Heroes being one of the highlights. Stephen made everything easy and harmonius. He will be greatly missed.

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