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Baritone Roy Henderson Dies

March 17, 2000

LONDON (AP) _ Roy Henderson, a baritone famed for his performances of Frederick Delius’ works and a teacher of Kathleen Ferrier, has died. He was 100.

Henderson died Thursday at the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund home in Bromley, south of London, his family said. The cause of his death was not announced.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1899, Henderson learned to sing while serving with the Artists Rifles during World War I.

He studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and got his first major break in 1925 in a performance of Delius’ ``Mass of Life,″ which he sang at short notice at a Royal Philharmonic concert. Delius paid Henderson a warm compliment, signing a photo ``to the unequaled interpreter of Zarathrustra.″

From then on, Henderson was regarded as the ideal Delius baritone. He sang on the first recording of Delius’ ``Sea Drift″ and in the premiere of ``Idyll.″

He also performed all the Elgar oratorios and choral works, and sang Count Almaviva in ``The Marriage of Figaro″ at the 1934 opening night of the Glyndebourne summer opera festival.

Henderson’s last singing performance was on March 29, 1952 in the role of Christus in Bach’s ``St. Matthew Passion″ at Southwark Cathedral, the Anglican cathedral on the south bank of the Thames in London.

Henderson met Ferrier in 1942, but was not overwhelmed by her talent.

``It was a good voice,″ he said, ``but too dark. And she kept her nose buried in the score the whole time, terrified to look up. I told her she should learn her words and throw away the book.″

Ferrier later asked Henderson to teach her. She went on to become one of Britain’s renowned voices of the century before dying of cancer at age 41 in 1953.

A CD of Henderson conducting Ferrier in Pergolesi’s ``Stabat Mater″ has been released on the Dutton label, which also produced a ``Centenary Recital″ disk with Henderson’s solo performances.

Henderson is survived by a son and a daughter. Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

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