A little about Jake
Whether in chamber ensembles, as an accompanist, or as a solo performer, Jake loved making music and was a gifted and talented musician. In 2008, he was awarded scholarships to all the major conservatoires in Great Britain and chose to attend the Royal Academy of Music, in London. Born in Canterbury, Jake began piano lessons late, at the age of nine, but by the following year was already having weekly lessons with the concert pianist Ronald Smith. Jake gained a scholarship to St Edmund’s school, Canterbury, where his musical learning developed rapidly – his music came easily and with an emotional depth unusual for his age. At school he was a good linguist, loving French and Latin equally, but he also had a passion for cooking (and eating) and always loved a beer or three with his friends.
I knew Jake since his primary school days and followed his progress with great interest. His piano playing flourished and even before he won his scholarship to the RAM he was regularly performing concerts and winning prizes.
Towards the end of his first academic year at the RAM, he visited his doctor with what appeared to be a minor chest infection, but a virulent strain of leukaemia was diagnosed. Thanks to a genetic match his brother was able to donate stem cells, which gave Jake a brief, but precious, extension to his life. Jake embarked on a series of seven concerts, taking the stage with musical friends and playing beautifully, perhaps better than ever, as though his suffering had enriched his understanding of what he played. The concerts raised more than £15,000 for the Teenage Cancer Unit at the Royal Marsden.
On Sunday 17th April, he insisted on leaving hospital to perform with us (The Crowther Wind Quintet, the wind section for FCO) in St Peter’s Methodist Church, Canterbury. Although he was very ill at this stage, he insisted on playing, and as soon as he sat at the piano his whole being was transformed. The concert was an extremely emotional occasion, and for an encore Jake performed the slow movement from Beethoven’s Sonata No. 2, which was absolutely beautiful. Jake enjoyed every moment right until the end and it was through being able to perform that enabled him to carry on in those last few months, after he was told in December 2010 that medically nothing more could be done. Jake died in his father arms at the Royal Marsden Hospital on 26th April 2011, and his funeral was held at Canterbury Cathedral.
Jake’s name will be remembered by all those who knew him, and by the Jacob Barnes award, which will be presented annually at the Royal Academy of Music to a young chamber ensemble.
This Concert is about performing chamber music which Jake loved, about the pleasure in listening to talented performers, about playing in a unique venue with musicians of the highest calibre, about remembering Jake and offering support to the Teenage Cancer Trust charity to help other young people with cancer.