John Case

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JOHN Carol Case, one of England’s leading baritones in oratorio and lieder, who was at one time associated with all the great choral societies and festivals, has died aged 89.

Among his many noted performances was the part of Christ in Bach’s St Matthew Passion, which he sang for 20 years, from 1956, in the Bach Choir’s Palm Sunday performances in the Royal Festival Hall.

He worked with a number of renowned composers including Ralph Vaughan Williams which he regarded as a highlight of his career.

In 1948 a teaching colleague put him forward as the soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols, but only when he arrived did he realise the composer himself was conducting.

It led to other performances directed by British music’s most celebrated composer continuing until his death in 1958.

Mr Case was born in Salisbury, the second child of William Henry Case, who was a funeral director, and Florence, née Bessant.

His father was a keen amateur tenor but it was not until after his voice broke at 14 that John Case discovered he had a singing voice.

He was educated at Bishop Wordsworth’s Grammar School before winning a choral scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge where he studied under, among others, Harold Darke.

After studying for a year, he volunteered for the Army in 1942, returning to complete his studies at the end of the Second World War and graduated in 1947 with an MA and BMus.

After Cambridge, he was appointed director of music at King’s College School, Wimbledon, and music adviser to the national Townswomen’s Guilds’ Choir. He composed and conducted music for a pageant in 1954 performed at the Royal Festival Hall to celebrate their 25th anniversary.

From 1968, he gained distinction as a solo singer and also made a number of recordings. He was a regular broadcaster on BBC radio, and performed on television and in concert throughout Europe and Canada.

In 1976 Mr Case, who lived in North Yorkshire, retired from performing to concentrate on teaching singing, firstly at Birmingham School of Music, later at the Royal Academy of Music where he was a professor, and as a private tutor. He also gave inspirational masterclasses.

When an award for the performance of songs by the composer Gerald Finzi was established in 1981 he became chairman, then from 1984 until 1988 was president of the English Song Award which grew out of it.

In 1989 Mr Case retired completely to Thornton-le-Dale, near Pickering, where he occasionally took part in village concerts, and wrote a series of carols for the choir of All Saints’ Church which have been published. Four years later he was awarded an OBE for services to music.

Mr Case is survived by his partner of 55 years, Robert Wardell, and by his sister Mary.