Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Peter Low

The Buxton Festival began in 1979. The Fringe followed the following year. Among the Fringe supporters from the very beginning were Malcolm Fraser, Alan Bailey and Peter Low. Malcolm died in 2012, Alan last year and with the sad news of Peter's death on October 11th we have lost the last part of the link to the origins of the Fringe.

Peter was an enthusiastic and loyal supporter of the Fringe from the very beginning and his keen and active part this July only encouraged us to believe that he would go on forever. His sudden death aged 79 leaves us shocked - but we must be thankful for all that he gave us.

Peter was well-educated, traveled widely (and he was always a traveler, never a tourist), and read keenly and critically. One of his great loves in life was music - especially that of the great composers. Peter attended many concerts and recitals in Buxton throughout the year and often contributed thoughtful and well-informed reviews to the Buxton Advertiser. We were lucky that he gave so generously to the Fringe in reviewing many performances and always helping when it came to the difficult task of determining awards. It was Peter who famously told us that comparing a symphony orchestra with a jazz quartet was "like comparing a stick insect with a gerbil."

Peter also 'performed' in the Fringe each year - being part of the series of 'Fringe Readings' that are delivered in the Old Hall at weekends. This year Peter read a less-than-flattering portrait of Prince Charles. It wasn't his intended reading - he had hoped to borrow some technology to allow the projection of images to illustrate his chosen text but that fell through. Peter may have seemed, at first sight, to be culturally conservative but what turned out to be his final Fringe reading is a reminder of his intellectual independence.

Peter was a gentle man; he always smiled when he talked and listened to you; he carried his learning lightly - never using his knowledge or experience to put anyone down. These qualities made him him an admirable chair of the Fringe committee, a role he performed for 15 years up until 2004. These were not always easy times financially but Peter ensured the survival of the Fringe and did all that he could to encourage new and young performers.

Those of us that knew Peter well and felt able to call him our friend feel lucky and blessed. We loved him and we miss him. Peter gave much to the artistic and cultural life of Buxton in many ways, over many years. Many of us owe him much.

So, thank you Peter. Our thoughts are of him and our sympathies with his wife, Janet, and their daughters at their loss. We hope that the knowledge of the love and admiration felt for Peter is of some comfort at this painful time.

Keith Savage

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