On this page we Celebrate Joanna’s life in music (played by her) and spoken words; remember the Music Room with its collection of square pianos and listen to conversations recorded in 2010-2011 with family, some of her oldest friends and her husband Mike Beville.
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Family & Friends Remember
Andreas Boyde (concert pianist): “She was a unique character, a wonderful friend, and an extraordinary musician. I think of Jo, as the most loyal friend I have ever had. Music was her passion and music brought us together.”
Andrew Lancaster (square piano restorer): “Jo was a fascinating, mercurial and highly talented person, with such generosity of affection and love for her friends; she inspired love and friendship in so many people whose lives she touched and enriched.”
Susan Parker (daughter): “Jo was my mother; she was also my friend and confident; something I appreciate now, even more than before. Time is such a precious thing; we ought not to forget to cherish it.”
Jenny Leach (daughter): “With all our similarities and differences; all our close times and arguments; I will greatly miss our contact, but remember it with love and affection for the rest of my days.”
Marianna Leach (granddaughter): “Jo has been such a huge influence on my character; giving me her strength, her ear and a hug whenever I needed it. Jo can never leave me, because she is a part of me; and I will treasure that part of me, forever.”
Julian Thompson (brother): “She dealt with cancer with courage and grace; and she faced death in a way that I shall always remember. And I hope I do the same. I always was and always will remain, enormously proud of her.”
Henrietta Thompson (niece): “Jo meant a great deal to me. As my aunt, she was always very supportive of me throughout my life. I will miss her a great deal.”
Melanie Petre: “She was incredibly brave all her life whenever illness and adversity struck, a great wife to all her husbands and wonderful company… Jo was altogether very special and it was a great privilege to have been her friend.”
Michael Robson: “…it was a joyful privilege for our family to have heard and watched her piano playing during our visits to Trewarne in those early years.”
Uta Spizenberger: “I very often think of Jo. She was a very strong person and I am grateful to have known her, to have learnt so much from her and to have been a close friend and confidant.”
Eleanor Bailie (author & pianist): “I think she was the fullest personality with the most brimmingly full life, that I and perhaps many of us, have ever known. And what an incomparable gift of friendship.”
Dr. Bob Speer (physicist): “I defy you – I defy anybody to meet a more humane and wonderful, life enhancing human being, than Joanna Leach. It’s been a privilege, Jo!”
Martino Tirimo (concert pianist): “Her exceptional musicality was clear from the first moment, but what pleased me particularly was her strong individual expression.”
Roland & Pat Whiteside (neighbours): “We were fortunate to see Jo playing the piano. It was so special and what we heard exquisitely subtle and astonishingly thrilling, so that for me I felt possessed by the spirit of the moment which seems to endure in one’s body memory.”
The Music Room at Shute
Moving from the cramped confinement of a terraced house in Fulham (the birthplace of Athene Records) to the Old Ballroom at Shute House, Joanna’s pianos were suddenly free to breath in a setting and a spacious acoustic of their own period.
Originally 50ft long by 16ft, the Ballroom was ideal for the line dances of the period. 20ft had been appropriated for a large bedroom and the stairs rose out of the kitchen. Our renovations were extensive: we recovered a further 9ft in length (by reducing the bedroom) and moved the stairs to rise out the of the hall.
Although the square pianos have moved on; the Steinway remains. As a recital room it now seats 35 people.
Joanna and Mike reminisce about their life together: how they met, their work, and love for each other.
PART ONE – How we met
The SoundMaestro, the digital audio editor; the first recordings; the death of her beloved husband David Turner; feelings of deepest grief and despair; the challenge of carrying on the record label.
PART TWO – “Completely saved from awful despair”
Working together; Mike’s first recordings for Athene; a changed life; the Kiss that changed lives and a new love;
PART THREE – A wonderful enlivening relationship
Working together; Mike moves in with Joanna; Jo and Mike are able to plan their lives together.
PART FOUR – Shute House
The move to Shute House; a major renovation; the shock of being diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer; dealing with the cancer; enjoying recitals in the music room.
Jeremy & Bianca Robson entertain in their kitchen as Joanna and Jeremy remember their holidays together as children and Jo talks of her lovers and husbands – two bad and two good.
Marianna Leach (Jo’s granddaughter) & Joanna recall their wonderful relationship in these two conversations.
Tessa Davis and Joanna remember, over a pub lunch, their schooldays and how Tessa, now a magistrate, was expelled.
Henrietta Thompson (Jo’s neice) & Joanna talk about the family, their relationship and the trip to New York for the first performance of Schumann’s Variations on a theme of Schubert completed by Andreas Boyde; performed at the Pierpont Morgan Library, the owners of the original manuscript.
Dr. Bob Speer, a retired lecturer at Imperial College, tells his remarkable story of how Joanna saved and changed his life.
I remember Bob arrived early one morning in a very emotional state. He said he had been awake all night preparing in his mind how he would present his story – playing time 58 mins.
The Celebration of the Life of
Joanna Leach (1937-2011)
St. Peter’s Chapel, Exeter, 21st April, 2011
Music performed on
Music performed on
Period Square Piano
1. Opening procession – Andreas Boyde:
Dvorak Piano Concerto – opening 2nd mov.
2. Major Gen. Julian Thompson, CB, OBE
3. Susan Parker (Jo’s daughter)
4. Joanna: Janáček – Good Night
from “On an Overgrown Path”
5. Jenny Leach (Jo’s daughter)
read by Henrietta Thompson
6. Joanna: Debussy – Clair de lune
7. Eleanor Bailie
8. Joanna & Jenny Stern Duet:
Schubert – Polonaise in B flat
9. Conversation with Bernard d’Ascolli (1)
10. Joanna: Chopin – Nocturne in D flat
11. Andrew Lancaster
read by Stephen Silvester
12. Joanna (Stodart 1823): John Field –
Nocturne No.2 in C minor
13. Joanna (Stodart 1823) & Derek Bell (Erard harp)
Dussek – Concertante No.1
(1st mov – abridged)
14. Joanna (Stodart 1823): Scarlatti – Sonata No.2 in F minor
15. Marianna (Jo’s granddaughter)
via Skype from Australia
16. Joanna: Janáček – In Tears
from “On an Overgrown Path”
17. Andreas Boyde
18. Fauré – Clair de lune
Joanna & Isobel Buchanan
19. Conversation with Bernard d’Ascoli (2)
20. Joanna & Stephan Loges (baritone):
Schubert – Nachtstücke
21. Joanna: Liszt – Un Sospiro (a sigh)
22. Morning Chorus at Shute