Music shop owner’s dream role

Peter Robinson, owner of Pomp and Circumstance in Harrogate.
Peter Robinson, owner of Pomp and Circumstance in Harrogate.

A MECCA for fans of classical music is celebrating its second anniversary under new owners this weekend.

Harrogate’s longest-established specialist record shop, Pomp and Circumstance at 22 Commercial Street is marking its second year in the hands of proprietor Peter Robinson by offering free refreshments and a glass of fizzy wine or soft drink to its visitors tomorrow, Saturday.

The shop takes its name from Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (which later acquired the words Land of Hope and Glory).

Pomp and Circumstance stocks CDs of classical, jazz, musicals and shows, nostalgia, easy listening, world music, spoken word, comedy and soundtracks - amongst other things.

Owner Peter is passionate about all kinds of music, which is reflected in what you see on the shelves in the shop.

Pomp and Circumstance (P&C) was founded in 1994 as a specialist classical and jazz record shop by former Harrogate mayor, Geoffrey Webber.

Whilst retaining its original values, new manager Peter Robinson and his wife Lise have expanded its remit as well as the range of music on its shelves.

Peter said “Music has always been a special part of my life and running this record shop enables me to do something useful with my knowledge. “

Peter deals with the musical side of things and Lise manages marketing, promotion and networking (e.g. Facebook and Twitter), window displays and the launch of a range of music-themed gifts and cards.

Their eight-year-old daughter Laura contributes by decorating the shop with signs and pictures!

Originally from South London, Peter became a Harrogate resident in 1973.

His earliest memories are of classical, jazz and pop music always being on the radio or record player.

In 1965, as a member of The Outsiders, he came second in the local beat group contest at Battersea Town Hall.

By the late sixties he was playing in a blues band. Still keen to hear more different kinds of music, he searched in charity shops for LPs of music by Bach, Beethoven, Mahler and Scriabin, and in the evenings went to gigs by The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Yardbirds and Cream.

Peter was also buying tickets for as many Proms and South Bank concerts as he could afford.

He said: “I was fortunate enough to go to piano recitals and concerto performances by Arrau, Cherkassky, Richter and Rubinstein, and orchestral concerts conducted by Boult, Kempe, Previn and Stokowski.”

The unique qualities of independent record shops such as P&C were celebrated all over the world on April 21, this year’s Record Store Day.

Each participating shop offered enticing discounts, refreshments and sometimes live music. and, for the first time, P&C took part.

Peter ordered in and sold limited edition vinyl singles by a range of indie bands from Arctic Monkeys to White Stripes, in addition to special vinyl releases by classical artists such as Nicola Benedetti, Maria Callas, Kathleen Ferrier, Angela Gheorghiu and Benjamin Grosvenor.

Some visitors to the shop enthuse about it and say that it ‘provides a really valuable service’, likening it to a library.

Peter says that, with competition from huge online traders based offshore so that they don’t have to pay VAT, independent shops have to work that much harder to survive.

His message to fellow music enthusiasts is simple - ‘use it or lose it’.

He said: “Good music is in the ear of the listener as much as beauty in the eye of the beholder. There are so many kinds of music, something to suit every taste. We order in whatever people want – that’s our job. “

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