Obituary: Mary Lincé (1915 – 2014)

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Mary Lincé (15 March 1915 – 26 March 2014)

David Morris writes:

Mary Lincé was a valued and long standing member of this Society. Chamber music was an important part of her life and she played a significant role in the concerts’ history, as did her husband Martin. It is unlikely that anyone else can claim a span of 90 years as an audience member, over 61 of which were as an active participant on the concerts committee. She had a delightful disposition and was universally liked, and highly regarded for her contribution to the concerts and her knowledge of music.

Mary first attended the chamber concerts with her parents at the age of nine, at their original location in South Place in Finsbury. From there, the concerts moved temporarily to the Great Hall of the City of London School in 1927 before moving to the newly built Conway Hall in 1929. She joined the Society and the Concerts Committee in 1938 and remained an active member until 2000, after which she continued as a regular attendee. Of the many who have attended the Sunday concerts over the years, Mary was probably the only one to have done so at each venue since their inception. Quite remarkable!

Mary (née Seeley) was born in Wembley in 1915. Her mother played cello in the Wembley Amateur Orchestra and her father was its secretary. Mary was encouraged to learn the piano and she progressed well, gaining her Grade 5 by the age of nine. Her teacher in later years was Maurice Jacobson. When leaving or arriving at the Jacobson house, Mary would occasionally cross paths with the notable contralto, Kathleen Ferrier.

At the onset of the Second World War, Mary became a volunteer nurse as well as taking a job in censorship. Her work took her to various locations around Britain. One evening in May 1943, when she was stationed at an airfield in Lincolnshire, she witnessed a squadron of planes taking off. It was only later that she discovered that they had been deployed as part of Operation Chastise, otherwise known as the Dam Busters raid.

In 1945, Mary married her lifelong friend, Martin Lincé. She had first met Martin at the age of five or six, when they were near neighbours, both of whose parents were keen amateur musicians. After the war, Mary and Martin lived in Redcar, where Martin had taken up a teaching post. However, Mary was keen to return to London so in 1947, Martin took a position at Wandsworth School and they moved to Southfields which has since remained the family home.

In the early 1960s, Mary took up some part-time teaching in the remedial department at Wandsworth School and a few years later, became secretary to the music department. One of Mary’s greatest passions was chamber music. She and Martin hosted monthly gatherings at home, to play chamber music with friends. She and Martin particularly enjoyed participating in Music Camp, at Pigotts in Buckinghamshire, until they were well into their 80s.

Although instrumental music featured strongly throughout Mary’s life, she enjoyed some of her most rewarding and moving experiences through choral music. Both Mary and Martin were closely involved with the Wandsworth School Choir which achieved international recognition under its Director of Music, Russell Burgess. She was often allowed to sing alto as the only female member of an all male choir!

Mary derived great pleasure from a range of performances and recordings of the works of Benjamin Britten and appearances at the Aldeburgh Festival, as well as a variety of film sessions. As time went on, she joined both the London Philharmonic and Philharmonia Choruses and had the opportunity to sing many of the great choral works such as Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s 8th Symphony, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, and many performances of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony under world-renowned conductors.

She subsequently spent several highly enjoyable years with Morley College Chamber Choir, later re-formed as the Borough Chamber Choir, under Bob Hanson. More recently, Mary spent a few terms singing with Morley College’s Meridian choir until some months after her 98th birthday!

Mary had a long and interesting life and maintained her many interests in art, music, politics and current affairs. She was kind and helpful, and took an interest in everything around her. An excellent listener, she was a pleasure to converse with. Lively, active, and strongly independent wishing never to be a burden to others, even to the extent of travelling to and from the concerts by public transport right up to almost her last year!

We look back at Mary’s long and substantial contribution to the Society, her hospitality and rapport with the artists, her high standards, her knowledge of music and understanding of performance, and her valued observations. She was a delightful lady whom we will remember with much appreciation and affection.

[Sincere thanks to members of the Lincé family – Janet and Hugh, Mary’s daughter and son, and Nicola and Chris, her granddaughter and grandson – for their eulogies, from which much of her life history and musical experience was taken. DM]


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