Transforming Communities

The Dorothy Parkinson Memorial Award – Harrogate Festival

Chloe Saywell (soprano) and Stephenie Leung (piano) at Harrogate Festival 2015


On the 23rd July 2015, LMN soprano Chloe Saywell and pianist Stephenie Leung performed as part of Harrogate International Festival's Young Musician Series. The concert was held at St Wilfrid’s Church and the programme was inspired by the extraordinary life of the Honourable Lady Parkinson.

‘Music was my mother’s abiding passion. Her love of music was wide ranging. Bach was her favourite composer, closely followed by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Britten and Vaughn Williams, who was a house guest on one occasion – she also loved Delius!’ Jane Scrope, LMN Governor

The Dorothy Parkinson Memorial Award provides an opportunity for young British musicians to give a public performance as part of the Harrogate International Festival.

Born on 29th November, 1909, Dorothy Mary Lane Fox was the third daughter of Lord and Lady Bingley and was brought up with her three sisters at Bramham Park near Wetherby. She went on to study music, particularly the violin which took her to Vienna where she studied with Arnold Rosé, the leader of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Musical evenings were sometimes held at Dorothy’s home near Harrogate for which invitations were much prized. She became great friends with Fanny Waterman and frequently played with her.

Every Good Friday Dorothy would join an amateur orchestra which performed Bach’s St Matthew Passion in York Minister. She loved to go to the Edinburgh Festival, especially when Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was singing. The Aldborough festival was another favourite destination.

Dorothy was very fond of Evelyn and John Barbirolli who stayed with her countless times for the Hallé week in Harrogate. A skilled botanist, she shared a love of gardening with Evelyn and Janet Baker. 

The Harrogate Festival played a big part in Dorothy’s musical life. She was on the first board of governors at its inception in 1966 and became President in 1968 and 9, and again in 1978. She was a governor until 1980 the year of her death.

Apart from music, during World War II she worked as a volunteer nurse in the hospital set up in Harewood House. She also had a prominent position in the Girls Volunteer Training Corps headed by the Princess Royal. She later became active in politics giving a vote of thanks to the Prime Min ister Winston Churchill among other speeches. 

She loved dogs and horses, long walks and travel. She was brave, independent, loyal, generous, good company with a gift for humour and friendship whilst not suffering fools gladly!

When Dorothy died, Janet Baker sang in Leeds Civic Hall on 25 Feb 1981 in memory of her friend, contributing vastly to the Dorothy Parkinson Memorial Award, set up in 1982 and now (2015) in its 34th year. Clive Wilson director of the Harrogate festival and friend of Dorothy readily agreed to include the award in the festival programme. Evelyn Glennie, Anthony Marwood, Andrew Haveron, Jamie Walton, Sally Pryce, Julian Bliss, Benjamin Grosvenor and Michael Foyle have been among participants.

A group of people in a recording studio, singing and clapping hands

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