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News > RGS Alumni News > A Tale Of Two David's

A Tale Of Two David's

On Tuesday 3 October it was a pleasure to attend the first Billingham Lecture of the new academic year.

The Billingham Society invites pupils to attend talks from a range of speakers in a variety of fields. The sessions stretch and engage - challenging orthodox thinking by promoting enquiring minds and widening awareness on a diversity of subjects.

This first talk had the bonus of being delivered by not one, but two, Old Elizabethans (former pupils of RGS Worcester), David Parkes (1948-58) and David Packman (1947-56). Both members of the Elgar Society, the pair came to share with a huge number of interested current RGS scholars and musicians, their passion for music, the amazing impact it has had on both their lives, and of course many interesting facts about Elgar.

Director of Music at RGS Worcester, Jonathan Soman, hosted the session and began by asking both David’s about their musical memories from RGS. Both had loved singing at School and remembered fondly the joy of singing under inspirational David Willcocks CBE, (“he made you feel you were singing the best you ever had”), the excitement at joining forces for School musical productions with The Worcester Girls Grammar School, and the ground-breaking moment when RGS first hosted the School Carol Service in Worcester Cathedral. Pupils were fascinated to hear how Music and Art used to be taught from the same space and also to find out more about whether the two had played any other instruments at RGS (David Parkes the Violin and David Packman the Piano). Attendees also had the great pleasure of hearing all about the Three Choirs Festival from David and David both of whom have been involved and supporters of this event for many years. With the 2023 festival to be held in Worcester, the pupils were encouraged to go along and perhaps even get involved.

On leaving School, David Packman enjoyed a long and successful career in the RAF and David Parkes became a lecturer and teacher of music. Whilst travelling different paths after RGS, it was evident that musical life at RGS had instilled in each of them a true appreciation for music and a commitment to it always being a part of their lives.

David and David both talked to pupils about their work with the Elgar Society which exists to promote the appreciation of Sir Edward Elgar’s music and to raise awareness of him and his life. Worcestershire born and bred, Elgar had quite a remarkable story; being born to a humble family in Lower Broadheath, however by the time of his death he had been Knighted by King Edward VII and was one of very few composers at the time who actually made his living through his music. In an extra thread of relevance, Edward Elgar taught violin and music at Worcester High School for Girls from 1887-1895. The School was renamed The Alice Ottley School and remained as such until it merged with RGS Worcester in 2007.

A host of wonderful questions followed from pupils listening including “What is your favourite period of music?” with both answering the Classical period. Both David’s were also asked how and on what they listen to music at home, and most poignantly the way in which music has enriched both their lives.

David and David were hugely interested in the musical life at RGS today and were thrilled by the show of hands in the room that showcased how many pupils played instruments. Their final words of wisdom were to make the most of every opportunity at School generally and with regards to music. David Parkes shared that there is “no feeling quite like” performing as a part of a chorus of hundreds, and David Packman said how much of “team effort’ music is, and both passionately encouraged the pupils to enjoy all the opportunities offered to them.

As always, we are tremendously grateful to all our Old Elizabethans who offer so much support and advice to RGS pupils today, and thanks to David and David for such a wonderfully interesting and inspiring talk.

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