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Margaret Astill

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Posted on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 01:58 pm:   

In tune with the masses
13 February 2005

BORN: December 1, 1937
DIED: February 6, 2005

FORMER chief conductor of the WA Symphony Orchestra David Measham is credited with bringing classical music to the average person in Perth.

An icon in the music industry, he was a valued friend and associate to musicians throughout Australia.

Known as a man of the people, the highly regarded musician was WASO's chief conductor from 1975-1981.

His renowned Prom concerts attracted huge crowds to the Perth Entertainment Centre.

In 1975, he instigated the inaugural indoor season of three Promenade Concerts as part of the Festival of Perth.

The concept modelled on the famous London Proms held in Royal Albert Hall was an outstanding success. Audiences grew until, in 1980, 19,000 people attended the three concerts.

Writing in "In Perth, the atmosphere is no less electrifying than at the London Proms," he wrote.

Born in Nottingham, England, in 1937, Mr Measham was the only son of Joan and Lester Measham.

Previously a violinist with the London Symphony Orchestra, he moved to Perth in 1971.

He began at WASO as resident conductor and after his reign as chief conductor became principal guest conductor.

He was also a valued member of the Claremont Yacht Club.

Marcia Harrison, author of West Australian Symphony Orchestra: Celebrating 75 Years, said Mr Measham dedicated his conducting career to bridging the gap in music.

"He had a vision he took the music out to the people," she said.

"David started a new trend. People who hadn't heard classical music found they liked it they stopped and listened in the shopping centres.

"As a result of that he had a dream that Perth might put on proms, and the people there ranged from grandmas to teenagers.

"He was an imposing figure with a dynamic personality and this endeared him to the audience.

"To bring classical music to people who had never considered listening to it that was something quite brave to do."

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