The Untold Story of Herbert Sullivan, by Elaine Richardson

Elaine  Richardson’s new book The Untold Story of Herbert Sullivan, chronicling the life of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s nephew and heir, is now available to purchase directly from the author at price £40 + £8 UK first class postage.

Little has been written about Herbert over the years but due to Elaine’s detective work and research she is able to bring his story to us. The book covers Herbert’s life from 1868 until his death in 1928, as well as a lot more about the people who were important to him. These include his uncle, Sir Arthur Sullivan, his father Fred, his grandparents Thomas and Mary Clementina Sullivan, and his siblings, Amy, Florence, Maud, Frederic Richard, George, and William), who moved to America in 1883 with their mother, leaving Herbert behind in England.

The story is told, where possible, through original documents, such as letters, diaries, newspaper articles, informal information and personal ephemera, and charts Herbert’s life and background as completely as possible.

Yeomen of the Guard in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Gilbert and Sullivan Society (EDGAS) presents The Yeomen of the Guard22-25 Feb 7.30; Sat mat 2.30:  Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. Artistic and Musical Directors are our vice-presidents Alan Borthwick and David Lyle. Box office 0131-529-6000.

Sullivan Society AGM 2022

Dear Member,

This message is to give you notice of updated arrangements for the Society’s 2022 Annual General Meeting, which, as announced in Magazine 109 (page 3), is to take place at the London Coliseum on Saturday 12 November between that day’s matinée and evening English National Opera performances of The Yeomen of the Guard.

Please note that the meeting will commence at 5.45pm and not 5.30pm as originally announced. Because the theatre (which seats almost 2,400 people) will take some time to empty after the matinée, you are asked to please not arrive before 5.30pm (unless of course you are already there for the performance). The venue for the meeting, the Sky Bar Boardroom, is unchanged. The Boardroom is at Upper Circle level.

If you are planning to attend the meeting please let me know in advance as we will be arranging for tea/coffee and I will need to give numbers a day or two before the event.

English National Opera has given us a 30% reduction on tickets bought in a block on the Society’s behalf for the evening (7.30) performance.  The reduction applies to all seating areas except for the top priced tickets:

Stalls: £77 (down from £110); Dress Circle:  £77 (down from £110), £42 (down from £60 – no view of surtitles); Upper Circle: £63 (down from £90), £42 (down from £60), £24.50 (down from £35 – no view of surtitles); Balcony: £24.50 (down from £35), £7 (down from £10).

If you would like to book through the Society and enjoy the benefit of the reduction, please write to specifying the number of tickets you require, the part of the house and the price bracket. I will arrange for the seats to be reserved for you and give you instructions on how to pay for them. We are not attempting to group all Society members together as we know that individuals have different seating preferences. Please make contact as soon as possible, and in any case by the beginning of November.

I hope we will see many Society members both at the AGM and then spread around the auditorium later in the evening.

Every good wish,

Stephen Turnbull
6 October 2022

P. S. Don’t forget the performance of the Festival Te Deum at St. John’s, Smith Square the following evening, Sunday 13 November, at 7pm. The Royal Orchestral Society and the London Chorus are conducted by our Vice-President Ronald Corp.

New release – L’île Enchantée

Dutton Epoch have released the Society’s new recording of Sullivan’s L’île Enchantée which includes world premiere recordings of two movements from the ballet. The CD also includes world premiere recordings of the Procession March, Herman Finck’s arrangement of Day Dreams and a new orchestration of The Sapphire Necklace overture by Robin Gordon-Powell. The BBC Concert Orchestra is conducted John Andrews. The CD is now available from the Society’s shop. Copies will also be on sale at the Society’s sales desk at the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival’s Memorabilia Fair in Harrogate on 13th August and Stephen Turnbull’s talk on Arthur Sullivan’s Ballets on 18th August.

The Society’s First Online Talk

The Society held its first ever virtual meeting, appropriately enough, on 22 November, the anniversary of Sullivan’s death. Dr. Anne Stanyon‘s talk was entitled Hiding in Plain Sight, or, Seeking the Lost Arthur Sullivan. She says:

Biographies are dangerous things, often falling between hagiography and damnation, inevitably driven by context and the prejudices or sympathies of authorship.

Arthur Sullivan seems to have been the victim of such extremes, from the adulation of the G&S aficionado to the vituperative dismissal of many twentieth century musicologists and critics. What is apparent, via research using the contemporary sources that will be the focus of this talk, is that by the early 1870s, before the inception of the G&S partnership, Sullivan had become the dominant figure of British music and was to remain so until his death in 1900.

While Sullivan’s status has been obscured, so too, has the range of his activities. Use of newspaper sources and correspondence makes it possible to reconstruct a career that had either been erased (the celebrated boy soprano who shared the concert platform with Jenny Lind, the song-writing proto-trade unionist); or denigrated (the conductor who really did rival Hans Richter, who overhauled performance standards at both the Promenade Concerts and the Philharmonic Society); and the scholarly director of the Leeds Triennial Musical Festival, who was far from the complacency described by Arthur Jacobs and Cyril Ehrlich. All and more are in need of reclamation if Arthur Sullivan is to be evaluated in his entirety and restored to his central position in nineteenth century British music.

It is hoped to make a recording of Anne’s lecture available to members in due course.

New Sullivan song disc

The Society’s second set of Sullivan’s songs has just been released by Chandos. The new 2-CD set is available to buy from the Society’s shop. Mary Bevan, Kitty Whately, Ben Johnson, Ashley Riches are accompanied by David Owen Norris. Along with the earlier Chandos album of Sullivan Songs (CHAN 10935(2) ) and recordings by students of the Royal Northern College of Music available here  this completes Norris’ survey of all Sullivan’s songs.

A discounted price is available to members. For details see Magazine No.105 or contact our Sales Officer

Unheard Songs by Sir Arthur Sullivan

David Owen Norris accompanies students from the Royal Northern College of Music in performances of thirty-six previously unrecorded songs.  Filmed in Mrs. Gaskell’s Drawing Room, the films which will be available to view here, will be posted half a dozen at a time on Sundays between November 22nd (St. Cecilia’s Day, the day on which Sullivan died in 1900) and Christmas.

The Chandos double CD Sir Arthur Sullivan Songs with Mary Bevan, Ben Johnson & Ashley Riches appeared in 2017 (available here). A further selection, with the same singers plus Kitty Whately, will appear on the Chandos label in May 2021. Those discs, coupled with the RNCM films, will present all Sullivan’s songs – a remarkable and astonishingly little-known repertoire by one of the greatest masters of vocal composition.

Haddon Hall review

The July issue of Gramophone contained an excellent review of Dutton’s recordings of Haddon Hall, Mr Jericho and Captain Billy, sponsored by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society.

for the quality of the performances, as well as the imaginative choice of repertoire, this recording sets a new standard in the presentation of English light opera on disc. More, please! ” (Richard Bratby, Gramophone).

You can read the full review by following the link here. Copies of the CDs can be purchased from the Society’s shop.

Sullivan Festival 2020 news update

As a consequence of the emergency Covid-19 measures, the 2020 Sullivan Festival was cancelled in March. Full refunds have been sent to all intending participants, and we are grateful to them for their patience and understanding while the refunds have been arranged – a long, drawn-out process, which has made more so by the impact of the virus on those bodies with which the Society has been working.

We have picked up one or two hints that Scottish Opera may be planning to run its 2020 programme in 2021. If this is the case, then the productions of Utopia, Limited and The Gondoliers will again be available to us. Whilst is is far too early to know whether this will actually happen, we would hope, if it does, to replicate our lost Festival next year.  If anything comes of this, an announcement will be made here, and in the Society’s Magazine, in due course

Twenty-fourth Sullivan Festival Glasgow cancellation

We learned late on Tuesday 17th March that Scottish Opera has cancelled all performances of The Gondoliers and projects associated with it – which of course includes Utopia, Limited. Given this decision by Scottish Opera and the dramatic events of recent days the Society has no choice but to cancel the 2020 Sullivan Festival in Glasgow.

We understand that this cancellation will come as hugely disappointing news to our members and others planning on attending the Festival. We are in the process of offering refunds. This will take some time, but we will endeavour to deal with things as quickly as we can.

The cancellation of the Festival will have a great impact on the finances of the Society and so we are inviting attendees to consider converting their deposit into a donation, either in full or in part (on which we will claim Gift Aid wherever possible), to help support the Society through this difficult period. We understand that it may not be feasible to make this donation so will be offering a full refund.

If you have any queries please feel free to contact the Secretary at

Haddon Hall

We are delighted to announce that the new Dutton Epoch recording of Haddon Hall, sponsored by the Society, is now available. If you have already ordered your copy through the Society it will be dispatched shortly. Copies are also available to order through the Shop.

Arthur Sullivan and Sydney Grundy: Haddon Hall (1892); François Cellier and Harry Greenbank: Captain Billy (1891); Ernest Ford and Harry Greenbank: Mr. Jericho (1893): Eleanor Dennis, Fiona Kimm, Ed Lyon, Donald Maxwell, Ben McAteer, Angela Simkin, Adrian Thompson, Sarah Tynan, Henry Waddington, BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by John Andrews.

Twenty-fourth Sullivan Festival May 2020

Following the announcement by Scottish Opera that they have cancelled all performances of The Gondoliers and projects associated with it – which of course includes Utopia, Limited, the Society has no choice but to cancel the Festival. A fuller statement about the cancellation and refunds will follow shortly.

Captain Billy and Mr Jericho on BBC Radio 3

Following the broadcast of the Society’s new complete Haddon Hall recording with the BBC Concert Orchestra, the two Savoy curtain-raiser that are included in the CD set will also be heard on Radio 3. On 6 January at 3.30 François Cellier’s Captain Billy will be broadcast; the following day at 3.40 Ernest Ford’s Mr Jericho. Eleanor Dennis, Fiona Kimm, Ed Lyon, Ben McAteer, Henry Waddington and the BBC Concert Orchestra are conducted by John Andrews.

Sullivan Part Songs

Kantos Chamber Choir, conducted by Ellie Slorach, have just released a “beautifully performed and recorded” CD of Sullivan’s complete part songs. Full details and ordering information can be found in the Society’s Shop.

Haddon Hall to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3

The Society’s new recording of Haddon Hall is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Thursday 19th December ahead of its release on the Dutton Vocalion label early next year. The cast, which includes Catherine Carby, Fiona Kimm, Edward Lyon, Donald Maxwell, Ben McAteer, Adrian Thompson, Sarah Tynan, Henry Waddington, the BBC Singers and BBC Concert Orchestra, is conducted by John Andrews.

Also due for broadcast during the week commencing 6th January 2020 are recordings of the two curtain-raisers Captain Billy (François Cellier, 1891) and Mr Jericho (Ernest Ford, 1893).

Twenty-fourth Sullivan Festival May 2020

The Society’s Twenty-fourth Sullivan Festival will be held in Glasgow, 21-23 May 2020, to coincide with Scottish Opera’s new productions of Utopia, Limited and The Gondoliers at the Glasgow Theatre Royal. This will be the first professional Utopia since 2011 and only the third in Britain since 1900. For full details and a booking form visit the Festivals page on our website.

The Light of the World

This magnificent recording, sponsored by the Sir Arthur Sullivan Society, is the latest in a series of works by Sullivan to be conducted by John Andrews with the BBC Concert Orchestra and includes Ben McAteer singing the rôle of Jesus and Natalya Romaniw as Mary. Read John Andrew’s blog ‘Arthur Sullivan, the serious composer’ here and his interview with Katherine Cooper of Presto Music here.

“The Light of the World . . . emerges after many decades of unjust neglect as a splendidly distinctive, unstuffy achievement, brimful of captivating melodic charm, communicative flair and technical confidence, always displaying an enviably sure dramatic instinct. . . . No praise can be too high for the present big-hearted revival. John Andrews directs proceedings with the utmost care and infectious conviction, and elicits ideally fervent and polished results from his assembled choral and orchestral forces. . . . The SACD sound is superb . . . Dutton’s copious presentation is a model of its kind . . . outstandingly thoughtful essays by Martin Yates and Ian Bradley. Plaudits to everyone involved with this enterprising release.(Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone)
this is an accomplished, moving and dramatic work that deserves to get a wide audience.” (Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill blog)

New Vice-President

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Anne Stanyon has accepted a Vice-Presidency of the Society. Her research into Sullivan and the Leeds Festival, for which she has recently been awarded a Doctorate by the University of Leeds, and continuing research into Sullivan’s role as a conductor has been truly groundbreaking.

Haddon Hall

Haddon Hall, Captain Billy and Mr Jericho will be recorded at Watford Colosseum from 6-11 January 2019. The BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Singers will be conducted by John Andrews. Details of soloists will be announced in due course.

Sullivan Ballads Recording

Plans are in an advanced stage for a recording of Sullivan’s Ballads to be issued on the Chandos label. The single CD will compliment the 2-CD set of Sullivan’s Songs issued in 2017. More details to follow.

Alan Borthwick and David Lyle have both accepted Vice-Presidency

We are delighted to announce that Alan Borthwick and David Lyle have both accepted Vice-Presidency of the Society. Their work with the Prince Consort, notably their complete recordings of Sullivan’s rare operas in the 1980s, has done an enormous amount both for the Society and, more importantly, for Sullivan and his reputation.

The Mountebanks recorded at Watford Colosseum

Alfred Cellier’s The Mountebanks (1892), featuring the BBC Singers and the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by John Andrews, was recorded at the Watford Colosseum 18-22 January. Issue projected for the end of the year.

New 2-CD set of Sullivan’s Songs

The Society’s new 2-CD set of Sullivan’s songs is available to buy, and also to download from the Chandos website here.

Mary Bevan, Ben Johnson, Ashley Riches, David Owen Norris: 46 songs, including the Shakespeare songs and The Window complete.

New recording of The Light of The World

The Society’s new complete recording of The Light of The World was made at the Watford Colosseum from 21 – 25 April. Natalia Romaniw, Eleanor Dennis, Kitty Whately, Robert Murray, Ben McAteer, Neal Davies, the BBC Symphony Chorus, the Kinder Children’s Choir and the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by John Andrews.