The Patrons of
the Camden Choir

Dame Judi Dench CH DBE FRSA has been named Britain’s best actress in several polls, primarily through her work in the theatre but also in film, and television. Her distinctive voice has also been used for characters in radio and animated films. Through her parents she had early contact with the theatre, her father being GP for the York Theatre and her mother wardrobe mistress. She made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company and played in several major Shakespearean roles. She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1961 and subsequently spent seasons in repertory around the UK and abroad. Her film debut was in 1964 in the Third Secret. She won the BAFTA Award as Most Promising Newcomer. She is best known internationally today as James Bond’s boss ‘M’.

Dame Judi’s winning roles are too numerous to list, but she has won many awards including six Laurence Olivier Awards, the Tony Award, the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress as Elizabeth I in the film Shakespeare in Love. She was appointed OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1970, advanced to DBE (Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1988, and was awarded a CH (Companion of the Order of the Companions of Honour) in 2005.

She has also been awarded academic honours including Honorary Fellow of the Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and Honorary Doctorates from Surrey University, Durham University, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, the University of St Andrews and Nottingham Trent University, the Universities of York, Warwick, Birmingham, Lough-borough, the Open University, London University, the Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, Surrey University, Oxford University, Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, the University of East Anglia, Wales, Leeds, Hull, St. Andrews and Nottingham Trent. In 2004 she received Honorary Doctorates from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia, and from The Juilliard Academy in New York.

Other interests include being a patron of around 250 charities, including the charitable side of Everton FC in Liverpool (Everton in the Community), British Lung Foundation, British Heart Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Trust, to name but a few. She co-owns with her chauffeur a horse which won the Lincoln and the Brigadier Gerard Stakes.

Gerald Isaaman is a journalist and former member of the Press Complaints Commission from 1993 to 1995; editor of the Ham & High (formerly the Hampstead and Highgate Express) for twenty-five years and general manager for four years; editorial consultant Home Counties Newspapers 1994–99; external examiner for City University’s Department of Journalism and executive member of the Association of British Editors 1985-99 (deputy chairman 1994–99), the first cross-media organisation of its kind in the country, now merged with the Society of Editors; he won a special award for distinguished services to journalism in the British Press Awards 1994 and was made an OBE in the same year; he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Gerald Isaaman trained in South Africa before joining the Ham and High in 1973 where he worked for nearly 40 years before he retired in 1994. He was brought up and lived most of his life in Camden where he has fought many local battles, notably over Camden Council’s wish to sell off Burgh House, which has now celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, and in supporting the early Hampstead Theatre Club, now the Hampstead Theatre, which has celebrated its 50th anniversary. He is still a presence in Hampstead, despite now living in Gloucestershire. Although ‘retired’, Gerald Isaaman regularly writes, particularly interviews with famous people, for the Marlborough News Online, the Islington Tribune, the Camden New Journal, and other publications.

According to Matthew Lewin, also former editor of the Ham & High, ‘He was without question the finest local newspaper editor I ever came across. He had a piercing vision about what people wanted from their local paper which, he believed, should cover every aspect of their lives, including what he called “the good things in life, such as music, art, theatre and - above all - literature”.’

The Reverend Lyndon van der Pump is a clergyman with a difference. Born in Swansea in 1925, he had a distinguished career as a Lieder recitalist before discovering a talent for teaching. After teaching singing to actors at RADA and choral scholars at Cambridge, he was invited to become Singing Professor at the Royal College of Music, where he worked from 1971 to 1994. But rather than simply resting on his musical laurels, he decided to follow a long-time religious commitment by becoming an Anglican priest in 1988. His career as a clergyman was spent at St Mary the Virgin, Primrose Hill, from where he retired in 2004 but still lives near St Mary’s.

His passion, as a singer and teacher, has always been to make the words tell in the way the composers intended: as inseparable partners of the music. Works sung in translation, however, have often had their words forced into unnatural patterns. Van der Pump recently turned his attention to J. S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion which is very often sung in English outside Germany. Standard English translations are either stilted or married inelegantly with the music. Van der Pump’s new translation, issued by the leading music publishers Peters, is flowing, idiomatic and singable. His aim was to produce a translation that is literally accurate in translating the original German while fitting the English words to the notes. The world premiere of this new translation was given by the Camden Choir on 12 March 2008, in St John’s, Smith Square, conducted by Julian Williamson, with a number of distinguished soloists who were van der Pump’s ex-pupils.

Jon Snow studied law at the University of Liverpool but did not complete the degree, being rusticated for his part in an anti-apartheid student protest, which he later described as ‘an absolute watershed in my life’ as it led to an eminent career in journalism. He joined ITN in 1976 and became Washington Correspondent and as diplomatic editor before becoming the main presenter of Channel 4 News in 1989. He has covered major events including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama’s inauguration, the earthquake in Haiti and in 2011 presented an investigative documentary, Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, that won multiple awards.

His other many awards include the Richard Dimbleby BAFTA award for Best Factual Contribution to Television (2005), and Royal Television Society awards for Journalist of the Year (2006) and Presenter of the Year (2009). Despite dropping out of University Jon Snow has since been awarded several honorary degrees: from Aberdeen University, Oxford Brookes, and his alma mater, Liverpool University. He declined an OBE because he believes working journalists should not take honours from those that they report on.

His many affiliations past and present include: Trustee of the National Gallery and Tate Gallery, Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University, Chairman of the Prison Reform Trust, and Patron of several legal defence charities amongst others. Despite his extensive commitments, Jon Snow is ‘someone to whom music is extremely important’ and his roots are musical – his mother was a pianist and he was a chorister at Winchester Cathedral.

Valerie Lady Solti, under her maiden name of Pitts, was a BBC television presenter during the 1950s. She later worked at Granada Television and met Sir Georg Solti in 1964 when she was sent to interview him. They married in 1967, and had two daughters, Gabrielle and Claudia. Lady Solti was presenter on several children’s television programmes and subsequently appeared occasionally on television such as on the quiz show, Face The Music, and worked with Solti for various charities. After Solti’s death (5 September 1997), Lady Solti, Gabrielle Solti and Claudia Solti began the Solti Foundation to assist young musicians and, in 2002, launched a website dedicated to Georg Solti.

Lady Solti is the patroness of the World Orchestra for Peace, which her husband founded and whose first concert at the United Nations he conducted. She is also involved in other cultural organizations, including the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Trust, the Mariinsky Theatre Trust, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Musica Nel Chiostro, Battignano Italy, the Hungarian Cultural Centre (London), Liszt Academy (Budapest), the W11 Opera children’s opera company in London and the Camden Choir.

Richard Sumray was Chair of the London 2012 Forum for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. He started the work on a bid over twenty years ago, led for London for some years, until handing over that role to London’s Mayor and remained heavily involved throughout the period leading up to the actual Games. His involvement in sport and the arts, from the mid 1980s, led him to be the lead local authority member in London for both for some years and later he became a member of the Mayor’s Cultural Strategy Group. He also served as Chief Executive of London International Sport.

A non-executive director in health from the mid 1980s, Richard chaired NHS Haringey for ten years until 2011. He chaired the Joint Committee of all the London PCTs on consultations relating to Health Care for London and the future of stroke and trauma services, as well as the Strategic Partnership Board for Barnet, Enfield and Haringey. He was also chair of the London Specialised Commissioning Group. He is now the Chair of Health Education England, South London, which has responsibility for all medical and health training in that area.

As a Magistrate since 1984, he has chaired both a youth court and family proceedings court in inner London. Richard is a visiting professor at the University of East London and an advisor to the Board of London Higher. In the third sector, he chairs the Boards of Alcohol Concern and Circus Space, is treasurer of International Broadcasting Trust, is a director of the London Youth Games and has been on the Boards of a number of voluntary organisations in a variety of roles. He served for eight years as a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and was a member of the London Criminal Justice Board and the National Criminal Justice Board.