Renowned baritone John Carol Case dies, aged 89

John Carol Case

John Carol Case

First published in News

A RYEDALE singer who received an OBE for his services to music has died at the age of 89.

John Carol Case worked with a number of renowned composers including Vaughan Williams, which he said was his lifetime achievement.

A graduate of King’s College Cambridge, it was while he was working as a music teacher for a private school in Wimbledon that John was asked to perform at a concert in Westminster Hall in London.

It was only when he arrived at the concert hall that the young music teacher realised that he would be singing for the greatest living British composer.

Interviewed by the Gazette & Herald in 2008, John said: “I could have collapsed when I saw the great man himself standing in front of me.

“There I was, a young school teacher singing for the love of it, performing for Vaughan Williams. It was an opportunity professional singers would have given their right arm for.”

Plucked from obscurity, it was this quirk of fate which catapulted him to the top of his profession for the next 20 years, working as Williams’ principle baritone until his death in 1958.

John performed across the globe, retiring in 1976 at the height of his career and later came to live in Thornton-le-Dale with his partner of 55 years, Robert Wardell.

When he retired from singing, he started teaching singers and holding master classes for the public as well as taking part in the village concerts from time to time.

In 1993 he received an OBE from the Queen in recognition of his services to music.

Mr Wardell said John had spent the last four years of his life at Rivermead Care Home in Norton, after a stroke. “He only lived in Thornton-le-Dale for 20-plus years but he always said they were the happiest of his life,” he said.

“I must also express my gratitude to everyone at Rivermead where John was cared for by a team of lovely nurses and carers – he always referred to them as ‘The Ladies’.”

Mr Wardell said John had been a wonderful man who was kind and generous to everyone.

“Tributes are often made that someone was a gentleman – but John was a real gentleman and that really sums him up.”

A funeral was held today at St Gregory’s Minster, Kirkdale, followed by a private cremation committal. One of John’s own published compositions ‘Love Came Down at Christmas’, was to be sung by the choir of St Gregory’s.

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