St Albans Symphony Orchestra mourn death of music therapy pioneer

ONE of the world’s most influential figures in the study and practice of music therapy has died at his home in St Albans at the age of 57.

Professor Anthony Wigram was head of PhD studies in music therapy at the University of Aalborg in Denmark and held a similar position at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

A former President of the European Music Therapy Committee and past-president of the World Federation of Music Therapy, he also held academic appointments at universities as far afield as Australia, Spain and Italy.

In November last year he was given a special presidential award by the American Association of Music Therapy for his outstanding contribution to the speciality.

In St Albans Tony, as he was known to his many friends, became a member of the St Albans Symphony Orchestra in 1977 where he played the viola alongside his wife Jenny, the orchestra’s leader.

He was also a keen organist and played the instrument with the orchestra when needed, notably in concert performances of the Albinoni Adagio.

The couple met at Bristol University where they were both studying music. Tony went on to take music therapy qualifications at the Guildhall School of Music in London. He also qualified in psychology, including obtaining a doctorate, at colleges in London.

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The couple moved to St Albans when Tony took up a music therapy appointment at Harperbury Hospital where he later became head of music therapy and research adviser to the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Trust.

At Saturday’s concert by the St Albans Symphony Orchestra in St Albans Abbey, conductor Bjorn Bantock paid tribute to the work Tony and his family had done for the orchestra and dedicated the concert to his memory

Tony died on Friday after a long fight against a brain tumour and leaves his wife and three sons, Robert, who works in Bristol, Michael who is a professional cellist, and David, who played both saxophone and viola professionally.

His funeral will take place at St Saviour’s Church, St Albans at 1pm on Monday, July 4, followed by a private cremation.

The family is requesting that donations should be made to music therapy charities instead of flowers.