The Tuesday Partnership

10 July 2024

‘The Tuesday Partnership’ was the name adopted by the four founders of ‘Messiah from Scratch’. All were scientists at Imperial College, London and three of them were keen amateur musicians.

Don Monro, a Canadian electrical engineer and amateur clarinettist, played in the University of London Orchestra and elsewhere. In his own words: ‘I was active as an organiser of amateur musical events almost from the day [my wife] Ann and I landed in the UK in 1966. We never intended to stay after my studies were finished, but the musical life of London quickly changed all that.’

His colleague, David Burgess, was a physicist and amateur trumpeter. Early in 1974, Don and David took part in a very under-rehearsed, but surprisingly successful, performance of Handel’s Messiah. This entrepreneurial pair then hatched a plot to do something similar, on a large scale, in the Royal Albert Hall.  They promptly went across the road and booked the Hall for an unrehearsed amateur performance of Messiah.

As the initial euphoria wore off, they realised that the financial commitment was considerable and they really ought to have some support. Enter David’s boss, Professor Reginald Garton who, although not a musician, was happy to offer financial and logistical support. The fourth person they persuaded was Dr Gavin Park, another physicist and excellent amateur musician. He was also conductor of Imperial College Symphony Orchestra, so it was natural to suggest that he might like to conduct the venture. He innocently agreed.

So why ‘The Tuesday Partnership’?  David and Don had a spoof club, called the Tuesday Club (after the infamous ‘Monday Club’). David’s wife Susan writes: ‘The Tuesday club had no actual existence – Don and David had their own peculiar brand of humour. They would occasionally put notices in the Imperial College magazine such as “The next meeting of the Tuesday Club, scheduled for Wednesday next, will now take place on Thursday of this week”. Quite senior members of the academic staff occasionally enquired how one could become a member! It therefore seemed natural and logical to Don and David  to call their new venture the Tuesday Partnership.’

Next in the series: A family business

The Tuesday Partnership

The 'four mad scientists' who put on the first 'Messiah from Scratch'. Left to right: Gavin Park, Reginald Garton, Don Monro and David Burgess.