Elmar's 50 Musical Years - click Here

Tribute to Elmar Kennedy

By FRAZER MACPHAIL, President      On behalf of LAOS past and present.

(This tribute appeared in the LAOS 2014 'Hello, Dolly!' Show Programme)

Elmar, one of the longest serving members of LAOS, and certainly the longest serving actively-involved member, passed away in January following a relatively short illness. Elmar's active career with the club began in the autumn of 1958 when she joined along with sister Moira Tait and brother-in-law Jim. The 'young', 'dynamic' and 'accomplished' James L. Tait (not my words but used several times in the local newspaper reviews of our shows), was appointed the society's Musical Director with Elmar and Moira appearing on stage. Her singing and acting abilities were such that Elmar was given the lead role of Anna Glavari in her very first show in Spring 1959 - The Merry Widow, which was to become one of her all time favourites, with the hauntingly beautiful 'Vilia' probably her all time favourite song.

And so began Elmar's wonderful contribution to LAOS. A chorus member in the 1960 production of 'New Moon', she took the lead soprano role of Rosalinda in 'Pink Champagne' (1961) and Margot Bouvalet in 'The Desert Song' (1962) with our very own Sandy Forman as Pierre Birabeau, the Red Shadow. In somewhat pedantic language, the 'Wee Paper' of 20th April 1962 reviewed the show as follows :

"Like Scotland's football heroes at Hampden Park on Saturday, the members of LAOS covered themselves in glory with a spectacularly successful presentation of 'The Desert Song'. Mr.J.Lawson Auld's production had professional efficiency. Enhancing the pleasure and verisimilitude was the uniformly good standard of acting and singing. The accomplished young local conductor, James Tait, can take a bow for another notable success as Musical Director. Newcomer, Alex Forman, brought a splendid bass voice and considerable acting competence to a most likeable performance. His 'One Alone' was tremendously effective and won an ovation. Elmar Kennedy, who has been so fine an asset to the company, played the romantic Margot with grace and conviction. Her lovely singing, with its purity of phrasing, was a delight and her musical artistry shone through from first to last".

1963 - again saw Elmar take the leading role of Helen of Troy in 'La Belle Helene'

1964 - played Josepha Vogelhuber in 'The White Horse Inn'

1965 - played Countess Wanda in 'Waltz Without End'

1966 - played the Sorceress of the North in 'The Wizard of Oz'

1967 - played Saffi in 'The Gypsy Baron' (opposite Jim Laurie as Sandor)

1968 - played Euridice in 'Orpheus in the Underworld'

1969 - did a one year stint as Musical Director for 'The King and I'

1970 - not many people know this but Elmar was Property Mistress for 'Showboat'

1971 - played Bessie in 'Merry England'

1972 - again Property Mistress for 'The Student Prince' (and committee member)

1973 - non-playing member of committee but fully involved in the multitude of background

tasks needed to put on a show (Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado'

1974 - took to the stage again as Baroness Gondremarck in 'La Vie Parisienne'

1975 - 1978 - chorus member in 'Passion Flower','Fiddler on the Roof', 'Kismet' (in which a certain Jimmy Wilson played the pivital role of 1st of 3 beggars!), and Oklahoma

1979 - played Princess Karen von Leydersheim in 'The Gypsy Princess' in which she sang a duet with Bert Tait, who is on stage tonight

1980 - the part of Mrs. Higgins in 'My Fair Lady' signalled the end of Elmar's career on-stage as she was appointed Musical Director of the Society in 1981 and wielded the baton with distinction every year right up until 2012.

In 2008, the club celebrated with an evening paying tribute to Elmar's 50 continuous years with LAOS, the evening culminating in her receiving the National Operatic and Dramatic Association's prestigious 50 year medal - a medal awarded only to those who, every year , have made a significant contribution to the life of a club or society.

It is most unlikely that anyone will ever equal, far less surpass, the contribution Elmar made to this club. The Barbados newspaper "The Advocate" ran a feature about Elmar in 1964 headlined "Music Is My Life, Says Singer". Exaggeration in theatrical circles is not uncommon but, in Elmar's case, when you add to the mix her concert party preparation, rehearsals and 'gigs', her involvement with Age Concern and her full-time musical teaching commitments, that headline is possibly an under-statement.

Finally, on a personal note, two abiding memories (among many) - (a) the woodpecker-like pencil-tapping on the table if an accompanist's tempo was not to her liking, and (b) the elegance - always. (hard lines if you booked stalls seats directly behind the conductor's podium. In full Elmar regalia, complete with feathers and boa, the tickets should have been designated 'restricted view'!) . The quartet at the beginning of Act 2 tonight was surely written with Elmar in mind - Elegance.

Click HERE for Tribute Concert Photos





Tribute to Elmar Kennedy     

(Courtesy of 'Largs & Millport Weekly News')

  Largs has said goodbye to one of its musical maestros in Elmar Kennedy who has passed away at the age of 85.
  She was the doyen of Largs Operatic Society for over 50 years and not only did she appear in many of their popular all singing and dancing shows as the leading lady, but went on to become the musical director - a job she carried out with great aplomb, and indeed, was still in charge of many of the Barrfields productions up until very recently.
  Elmar was also well known as a music teacher at Largs Academy for decades, and was much admired for her colourful elegance and great talent which she passed on to many in the local area through her teachings.
  Born in 1928 in Glasgow, she spent her upbringing in Hamilton with sister Moira, and her parents, and first acquired her love for musicals and the stage when she was attending Hamilton Academy, appearing as Princess Ida in a production of The Pirates of Penzance - all staged in The Hippodrome - an old cinema.
  Elmar went on to study at the renowned RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama), which is now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and was a member and performer for the Glasgow Grand Opera Club. Elmar was on a family holiday to Cornwall when her father died, and it was in 1957, that Elmar and her family moved to Largs, where she quickly became involved in the Largs Operatic Society. Sister Moira came to Largs in 1958 with her husband Jim Tait.
  Taking many of the lead roles in their all star productions, she teamed up with brother in law Jim, who was also heavily involved in the Largs Operatic Society, and made many good friends, and very much enjoyed the after show parties. She was a member of the strong Largs Academy musical department which comprised of Alistair Chisholm and Anna Smith, and was well known for her fashionable outlook, and charm bracelets.
  She retired from teaching in 1989 and although unmarried, she was kept busy with her family of nieces and nephews and their children.
  Largs Operatic Society, with whom she raised thousands of pounds for charity, through a regular concert party, honoured her with a 'This is Your Life' presentation in 2009, to mark half a century of service.
  Elmar was very religious and had been a long term member of the Clark Memorial Church and sang in the choir. Like her mother before her, Elmar maintained a strong interest in Age Concern and was very involved in the Largs A.D. Cameron Centre.
  Elmar's funeral took place last Wednesday at the church, and thereafter to Holmford Bridge Crematorium, and a reception was hosted at Inverclyde Sports Centre.
  In tribute to Elmar, Catherine Laurie Jones - a member of the St. Maura Singers - sang I know that my redeemer liveth' from Handel's Messiah - by family request.       Elmar died peacefully on 4 January 2014, after a short illness borne with grace and dignity.