Transforming Communities

Christopher Yates: 1938 – 2014

Christopher Yates: 1938 – 2014

Live Music Now learned with great sadness that former LMN Governor, Christopher Yates, died on 22 November 2014.

We’ve received an outpouring of comments and memories from former and current staff, alumni musicians and Board members, some of which we’ve included below.


Ian Stoutzker, CBE LMN Founder-Chairman

Chris Yates represented the North West branch on the Live Music Now Board of Governors between 1994 and 2012, succeeding Ida Carroll.

Chris himself was a leading figure in the RNCM and became their first Vice Principal in 1990. His association with Live Music Now was valued greatly by all. He brought a clear insight into the development of the scheme and his contribution was always creative. I worked with him also during this time when he was also the Chairman of the MBF and he made the first significant moves to bring the organisation and its activities more relevant to the changing times. He did so in a quiet manner that brought all with him and laid the foundation for the later and more recent developments.

We were shocked when he suddenly announced his retirement from LMN due to ill health and missed him greatly at our meetings. I am sure he would like to know that our close relationship with his beloved RNCM continues and that his contribution to music and education will live on in all those he helped and inspired.


Alasdair Tait, LMN Governor, LMN Alumnus and YCAT Executive Director

Throughout my career, Chris was always one of the most supportive and generous of figures, full of wise counsel and humorous asides. At the heart of Chris’s life and work was a genuine passion for educating and developing young talent, helping them to learn how to communicate their own passion to any audience they encountered. His commitment to the work of Live Music Now over the years is testament to his unswerving belief in the healing power of live performance.


Sarah Derbyshire, Former LMN Executive Director, 2003-2012

Chris Yates was an exemplary Governor of Live Music Now. As a musician, educator and manager, he brought a wealth of skills and experience to the Board. His detailed knowledge of the North West region enabled him to support a distinctive approach to the development of that branch, which grew to serve an array of talented young musicians and a wide range of social settings. At the same time, he was able to stand back and view the picture UK-wide, so that his contributions had an impact for the scheme as a whole. Thanks to Chris, the lessons learned in the North West branch could then be applied in other branches: the continuing refinement of LMN’s business model owes much to the approach which Chris encouraged in the North West.

Chris’s profound understanding of the challenges which face young performers as they emerge into the profession was particularly evident when auditioning musicians for the scheme. Not only did he have an acute musical judgement, but his insightful questions and suggestions helped both the panel and the musicians themselves understand how they might best address LMN’s demands both for artistic excellence and empathetic communication skills. Chris also took a close interest in the staff of LMN and his good humour and encouraging words were always welcome. He was unhesitatingly generous with his time, expertise and advice, but never interfering, which is an art in itself. It is good to know that, as the LMN scheme flourishes and music and education in Manchester/North West continues to thrive, Chris’s legacy continues.


Simone Rebello, LMN alumna, mentor and Director of Percussion Studies at RNCM

I was very fortunate during my time at RNCM to have known Chris in his role as Dean. Through his encouragement and support I was advised to audition for Live Music Now- and what an effect that has had on me! Working with the organisation has been a very important factor in my career and development as a musician and performer. I am proud (in my position as Director of Percussion at RNCM) to continue the supporting role that Chris gave me of actively encouraging young musicians at the start of their careers to work with LMN.


Gillian Green, LMN Auditions Director

Chris Yates was a great musician, mentor and leader but also a very kind person who gave so much time to us all whatever the circumstances. I feel so privileged to have known him and to have benefitted from his expertise over the years. And what a splendid and down to earth sense of humour as well!


Rob Buckland, LMN alumnus, mentor and Director of Saxophone Studies at RNCM

I first met Chris when he was Dean at the RNCM, and from the start of my time at the college he was hugely supportive, always encouraging, a quiet, reassuring presence throughout my time as a student. He had a gift of making each one of us feel valued, and had an unerring ability to quietly intervene with a cautionary word of advice at just the right moment. Subsequently, through his role at Live Music Now, and at the Manchester Middays, our paths often crossed, and when I returned to teach at the RNCM in 1997, Chris was a big part of the feeling that I was coming home again. Always ready with a quick witted one-liner and some quite sparkling limericks sketched off the cuff onto napkins and dropped casually into his charming, warm-hearted speeches at many a concert or meeting, Chris brought a sharp eyed understanding and genuine warmth to all he met. His endless generosity of spirit meant so much to so many of the countless students and musicians who were lucky enough to know him, and he will be sorely missed. He truly was one of the good guys, and I’m not sure they make them quite like that anymore.


Lenny Sayers, LMN alumnus, trainer, mentor and Principal Bass Clarinet player of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

I knew Chris Yates during my time on the North West Advisory Committee for Live Music Now, which he chaired. I also knew him before that as the Vice Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music, where I studied. He was also on the audition panel when I got into LMN in the first place! He was always a commanding presence, and was extremely well connected in the music world; he seemed to know everyone, and was very highly regarded in the music profession – as shown by the flood of tributes following his death. He was an extremely kind, compassionate and generous man, and believed very passionately in Live Music Now. He was one of those rare people who not only had vision, but knew how to make things happen.


Karen Irwin, LMN Strategic Director: SEN

I first met Chris through his role at the Musicians Benevolent Fund (Help Musicians UK) in the 1990s whilst I worked at the London Symphony Orchestra. I was glad to see a familiar face when I joined LMN in 2004. Chris was a wonderful advocate for Live Music Now, both within the NorthWest region and at a UK level, sharing his tremendous knowledge and expertise around the development and training of young professional musicians. His daughter Catherine is also a great supporter of Live Music Now North West and has been a specialist panel member for several LMN auditions at the RNCM. My thoughts go out to her and all of Chris’s family.


Carol Main, LMN Scotland Director, LMN International Development Director

I always found Chris Yates supportive and deeply understanding of every aspect of Live Music Now. I greatly enjoyed his warm personality.


Mark Heron, LMN alumnus, Conducting Tutor, RNCM

I knew Chris through LMN, but firstly as a student at the RNCM when he was Vice Principal. He was always such a huge supporter of the College’s chamber music ensembles and had a miraculous way of “making things happen” if he thought a group had potential: now that I work at the RNCM myself, I appreciate only too well that his skill in this regard was quite unique. The fact that so many of us followed that path through into working with Live Music Now is testament to his ability to foster and develop these groups. I also remember fondly his brave attempt to keep a straight face when he was obliged to “discipline” some of us for some rather over-exuberant behaviour one evening after a quite a few malt whiskies in the bar….

Note: We are happy to include further remarks on this page so please email [email protected] if you’d like to add a comment.