An Interview with Thomas Round
Some weeks ago I spent a pleasant afternoon in the company of our new President, Thomas Round at his home in Bolton-le-Sands. Tom is a regular member of the audience at Marton.
"I was very pleased and honoured to be asked to become president of Marton Operatic Society, as I believe they are the only society in the Fylde who put on Gilbert and Sullivan operas," said Tom. "I had two spells with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, from 1946 to 1949 and again from 1961 to 1964."
Life hasn't been all singing for Tom. During the Second World War he went into the RAF and was posted to Texas, where he was transferred to the American Air Force as a flying instructor. Whilst in America he developed as a popular broadcaster on Sundays. He was also asked by Ivan Dneprov to play the lead in a production of I Pagliacci.
"Later on I realised what I had taken on, but at least it made a lot of dollars for the American Red Cross. That's when I decided that I wanted to become a professional. I came back from America in 1943 and was in 'Operational Training' flying Hurricanes and Spitfires."
He last flew in 1986 on a reunion visit to Texas. "I went up as co-pilot, but I didn't land the plane - I let the pilot do that! I have a yacht now, which I sail at least once a week on Lake Windermere. Navigating a boat is very different to a plane. I also have a boat moored on the local canal."
Tom looks fit, and obviously takes pains to keep himself so, "I'll be 81 in October." he said, but has the bearing of a man twenty years younger. "I've been called the oldest living juvenile lead in captivity!"
"I wouldn't say I came from a musical background, although all the family could sing. My elder brother, my sister and I all sung in the local church in Barrow, my father was a good comic song singer, my mother had a sweet soprano voice, and my brother had a pleasant baritone."
Tom appeared in the 1951 film 'The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan'. "Appearing on film is quite different from appearing on stage. All the shooting is done in little bits, and quite a few of the little bits are left on the cutting room floor. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the experience."
This year Tom celebrates fifty years as a professional singer. "People just won't let me retire!" he laughed. "Tomorrow morning I'm meeting my pianist. A friend of mine has a riding stable, and has converted a disused barn into a small concert hall. I'm singing there soon and we're going to check out the piano."
"My ambition in life is to stay healthy, to be able to sing and still be able to enjoy it."
This interview with Thomas Round took place on 8th September 1996 and was published in our programme for "The Grand Duke" which we performed that year. The interviewer was David Cookson. Now well into his 90s, Tom carries his years remarkably well and still keeps in touch.
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