BEV Jones, York chorister, composer, arranger, teacher and musical director and leading man, has died at the age of 75.
He had been suffering from vascular dementia and passed away at Harrogate Hospital on Sunday, having resided at a Knaresborough nursing home in his last years.
Mr Jones's musical journey began at the Minster School, leading to his being one of only 20 boys from British cathedral cities chosen to sing at The Queen’s Coronation when he was head chorister at York Minster from the age of 11. He was one of only two choirboys to be given a front-row seat in the gallery, directly opposite The Queen.
Mr Jones progressed to a career in music in York and beyond, singing with Shirley Bassey at the London Palladium in the 1970s, directing 500 musical productions for such companies as York Light Opera Company and his own company; and training and tutoring 500 singers in Yorkshire aged 11 to 19 for free before illness struck.
Twice he composed works to mark Royal occasions: a symphony for The Queen for Royal Ascot at York Racecourse in 2005 and The Royal Wedding Symphony for Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011, receiving letters from Buckingham Palace each time.
He planned to give a premiere to a third, A Coronation Symphony Anthem for the 60th Anniversary, at York Barbican in 2012 in a celebration of Mr Jones's 50 years of music before sending it to The Queen. However, he suffered a stroke after a fall in York city centre in late 2011, and his subsequent dementia deprived him from ever presenting the work.
In 2012, however, he did complete a revised and expanded version of Penny Millionaire, his musical about the high and lows of French Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin. The world premiere took place at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in January this year, produced by his wife, Lesley Jones, with the stalwart York actor Rory Mulvihill in the lead role. Mr Jones was able to attend matinee performance.
Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced, but it has been confirmed that York actor Ashley Stillburn, who is appearing in The Phantom Of The Opera in the West End at present, will sing at the service. Mr Stillburn, in his own words, "owed his entire future to being taught by the best, Bev Jones."