Royston Nash, Longtime Cape Symphony Conductor, Remembered

Photo Courtesy: Cape Symphony Orchestra

Photo Courtesy: Cape Symphony Orchestra.

HYANNIS – The man who led the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra for an unprecedented 27 years before his retirement in 2007 has died after a brief illness.

Royston Nash was 82.

A native of Great Britain, Nash joined the Symphony in 1980 as Conductor and Music Director after touring as conductor of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company based in London.

According to the Symphony, Nash, who lived in Cotuit, studied conducting at the Royal Academy of Music and served in the Royal Marines as Director of Music.

His tenure with Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, which was renamed the Cape Symphony in 2014, was the longest of any conductor who has led the group.

Nash was replaced by Jung Ho Pak, the current Conductor and Artistic Director, who called Nash a trye inspiration.

“The greatest gift he gave to me was at a lunch we had together soon after I was named his successor. He told me not to worry about the way he did things, and that it was important for me to do things in my own way. This was not only a kind message from my predecessor, but from someone who was older and wiser than me as well. I cannot adequately explain how generous and rare this gesture is in our profession. He gave his blessing and support to take on the courageous decisions and innovations that were necessary to take our orchestra to a new level,” said Pak

Cape Symphony President and CEO Roland Valliere said Nash has an important place in the organization’s history, “and really was transformative in taking what had been an orchestra at a certain level to one that really is now, in many ways, a cultural cornerstone of the Cape.”

At the conclusion of his final concert on May 6, 2007 the CCSO Board of Trustees presented Nash with the title of Music Director Laureate of the Cape Cod Symphony.

Nash was also the founder and conductor of Symphony by the Sea in Marblehead, Music Director and Conductor of the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra from 1980 until 1986 and Conductor of the Boston Conservatory of Music in 1985 and 1986.

“He was an incredible gentleman, a lovely person who cared deeply about people and about music on Cape Cod,” said Valliere.

In an industry where music conductors last only a few years in each position, Valliere said Nash brought vision and stability to Cape Cod during his nearly three decades and “shepherded the growth” of the organization.

Pak said Nash’s legacy with the Symphony is long-lasting.

“What he had built with this orchestra was incredibly uncommon.  He created an atmosphere of complete enthusiasm and dignity with the musicians and this precious community. It is this combination of innocence and joy of music making that drew me to this orchestra in the first place,” Pak said.

In the program book for his final season at the Cape Symphony, Nash was described as someone who “challenged both the Orchestra and audience with many diverse and formidable programs.”

Memorable performances included Mahler’s Second Symphony “Resurrection,” Don Quixote by R. Strauss, the Verdi Requiem with the Royal Choral Society, the “Leningrad” Symphony by Shostakovich and Elgar’s “The Dream of Gerontius.”

Nash made eight recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and was invited to guest conduct the Columbus, Ohio Light Opera in 1999, where he conducted works by Gilbert and Sullivan.

He leaves his wife and several family members. Memorial services were expected to be held next week in Cotuit.

By MATT PITTA, News Director

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