The village has lost yet another stalwart resident in Norman Large, who sadly died on 11 August after several months’ illness. For many people the name of Norman Large was synonymous with music in Wallingford, where for 40 years he served as the Methodist Church organist and, subsequently, as choir master to the group of singers he brought together.
He went to Mexborough Grammar School from where he gained an Exhibition to read Chemistry at Exeter College, Oxford. As a boy his success on the piano had led one of his teachers to encourage him to learn the organ, practising in the local Methodist Church. Before he went up to Oxford he had gained his LRAM in piano teaching. It was at Oxford that Norman met Esther, also reading C, and they married in 1956. After taking a Doctorate, he went to work for UK Atomic Energy in Harwell and he and Esther settled in Reading where their two children were born. On moving to Brightwell,they found a house that had a room large enough for a grand piano. Once he had retired he became one of the volunteers on the surgery run and also helped with delivering The Villager.
Some thirty years ago Norman was asked if he would help with a production of ‘The Mustard Seed’ at the Methodist Church and it was from The Mustard Seed that larger things grew, in particular a series of concerts as well as the choir. His patience was much appreciated, even though he could never really understand why less gifted musicians couldn’t pick things up more quickly! He had an eye for detail that ensured the right choices of hymn tunes.
Norman was involved with many local groups of amateur musicians including the Barezzi opera company, charity concerts at Brill, and for over forty years accompanied the Didcot Choral Society. In Brightwell he accompanied the carols in the Village Hall with verve and vigour each Christmas and, more recently, conducted performances of the Fauré Requiem and Vivaldi’s Gloria in St.Agatha’s Church. The last time he played in public was just before Easter this year when he accompanied on the organ the sing-in of Stainers Crucifixion at the Methodist Church. As he once said to Esther “I have been given this gift and I must use it”. That he most certainly did, and we give thanks for the way he did it.
(With acknowledgements to Norman Atkinson and David Kershaw who provided the original copy for this note.)
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