Wally Francis

Wally Frances.

The CBSO family is very sorry to hear of the death on 31 July of Wally Francis, at the age of 74.

CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock offers this tribute:

“Wally was a very long-standing supporter of the CBSO, having started attending concerts at the Town Hall in the late 1960s when he moved to Birmingham in his early 20s. From his seat perched above the double basses (later replicated in the Circle Right Ledge at Symphony Hall) he heard hundreds, possibly thousands of CBSO concerts over the years, most recently Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony in June.  He rarely missed a concert, and over the last 23 years he was always my first reviewer, stopping at my seat to offer his instant take (usually very positive) on what we had just heard. 

Wally was a huge enthusiast for classical music and opera, and something of an audiophile (with every CBSO CD and LP counted among his huge collection).  Wagner was perhaps his greatest musical love (after the CBSO), and we shared many a good-natured disagreement over the merits of brevity versus the merits of Wagner!  He always had an encouraging word for players and staff, and shared his considered opinions on past concerts regularly through his many years serving on our Artistic Forum.  

He spent 10 years on the CBSO Board, latterly as Deputy Chairman, where his good sense, wisdom, kindness and the experience he had gained from his day job as a teacher (and later an examiner) were of immense value.  One of his happiest and most useful roles was chairing the Search Committee that picked Andris Nelsons as our Music Director in 2007.  He also served the CBSO as a Trustee of the Pension Fund, and most recently as a Trustee of the CBSO Development Trust.  The hours he put into CBSO activities as a volunteer will probably never be surpassed, and his many acts of kindness included his annual pre-Christmas trips to the office with biscuits or chocolate for the players and staff.

I gained so much insight and support from our regular conversations over the last two decades and more, and his advice was always considered, insightful, well-meant and worth listening to.  We will all miss him hugely, and our thoughts are with Jenny and the rest of his family.”