Tributes to Taunton conductor Dr John Cole

This is The West Country: Dr John Cole, who died on Saturday. Dr John Cole, who died on Saturday.

TAUNTON’S medical and musical circles are mourning the death of Dr John Cole, who lost his battle with motor neurone disease on Saturday (January 19).

For over 40 years he was a skilled and popular doctor, his selfless devotion to patients spilling over into his musical life.

He founded the Somerset Summer Chorus and conducted the Taunton and Wellington amateur operatic societies, Taunton Choral Society and Somerset Opera.

Most recently, he founded Amici and created OrchestraWest, a professional symphony orchestra in Taunton.

Dr Cole never let poor audience numbers get him down and was an inspiration to fellow music lovers in dark hours.

His determination to support musical education for the young was strong, and he was supported devotedly by his wife, Linda Marshall Cole, a high-calibre dramatic opera singer and singing teacher.

Together, they guided hundreds of young people into the joy of making music.

When ill health prevented Dr Cole from conducting his beloved choir and orchestra he still maintained an enthusiastic interest in everything they did.

Colleague Harold Mead said: “His standards were high. Singing a solo at one of his concerts could be a terrifying experience as no-one wanted to let him down – to do so would tarnish the unswerving goal which he always set for every performance, to set the best possible musical experience for performers and audience.

“He may no longer be here to wield the baton but he’ll continue to wield a massive influence on how music is presented in this town.”

Among the famous names whose early careers were helped by Dr Cole is Amici’s patron and principal soloist at the recent Remembrance Sunday Concert, international star Elizabeth Watts.

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