Read John Cullen’s Obituary HERE
It is with great sadness that we record the death on 1st July 2022 of JOHN CULLEN, the conductor and director of the Tonbridge Philharmonic Society from 1972 – 1993. John’s 20 years of service to the society were informed by a strong sense of the importance of music and music-making in the community and Tonbridge reaped a rich harvest from his work and commitment.
All his endeavour was reinforced by his strong Christian faith and like J. S. Bach, whose works were his greatest love, he could say that he made music AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM – to the greater glory of God. Accordingly, John’s outstanding performances were of the St Matthew and St John Passions and the B Minor Mass. A memorable concert took place in 1996 when he returned after illness to conduct the St John Passion. Other significant achievements included two performances of Britten’s War requiem in 1975 and 1985 to mark the 30th and 40th anniversaries of the ending of the Second World War. His strong religious conviction infused deeply felt performances of Handel’s Messiah and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.
John’s passing will indeed be lamented by those many members of the Society, past and present, who loved him.
John was Director of Music at Tonbridge School from 1967 to 1993. He was a composer and arranger and particularly good at creating congregational parts for pieces like Messiah and Carmina Burana so that the whole school could both listen to and participate in important works. He was a Scot from Aberdeen, a cathedral organist and choir master, modest and a real ‘gentleman’. TPS covered a wide range of music under him, as a look at the archives would show, and he took the society on its first visit to Heusenstamm.