CELEBRATED cellist Julian Lloyd Webber has given his final ever performance in Malvern after being forced to retire because of injury.
The 63-year-old announced that last Friday’s (May 2) show with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Forum Theatre would be his last because of a herniated disk in his neck which has reduced the strength in his right arm. The problem has seen him cancel his remaining tour dates which included several performances of his Brit-award winning Elgar Cello Concerto.
Mr Lloyd Webber said: “I am devastated. There were so many exciting plans that cannot now come to fruition. I have had an immensely fulfilling career and feel privileged to have worked with so many great musicians and orchestras but now I have to move on.”
But he vowed not to ‘endure a forced retirement’ and declared he now wished to be an educator to give something back to the music profession ‘which has given me so much over the years’.
He added: “I have just completed two new recordings which will be released later this year but after May 2 my cello will fall silent. I now need time to reflect and to consider this sudden and distressing life-changing situation.”
Julian Lloyd Webber, who is the brother of composer Andrew, is widely regarded as one of the finest musicians of his time.
He was elected president of the Elgar Society in 2009 in recognition of his lifelong devotion to Malvern’s famous composer.
Dr John Harcup, chairman of the society’s West Midlands branch, attended the show on Friday and presented Mr Lloyd Webber with two commemorative mugs on stage.
He said: “It was a tremendous night. It was a sell out, I have never seen the Forum Theatre so packed. It was a great privilege to see him perform for the last time, he was immaculate.
“We were very lucky to have this last show. It is really very sad news what has happened. Unfortunately lots of musicians suffer from spinal problems through playing for years and years.
“He has played Elgar’s Cello Concerto quite frequently and has been a great advocate of the Elgar Society. We are all devastated he is having to give up and hope he will continue in music.”