In Memoriam Chrissie Baron

Please take a moment, at a time to suit you, to remember Chrissie and enjoy some of the music and pictures linked below.

You may wish to:

  • leave a written tribute, memory or story
  • share photos you have of her
  • make a donation in her memory

Memorial video


Pictures of Chrissie

https://photos.app.goo.gl/qFeKBBVN28V4tpAt8

If you have pictures of Chrissie which you would like to share with us, please email them to: helensalgo@gmail.com 


Chrissie’s playlist

We have selected a few pieces of music which Chrissie loved for you to enjoy.

Open Playlist

  1. Harry Lime Theme – Theme from The Third Man, performed by Anton Karas
    Chrissie’s first ever music request, made from the cot. She is reported to have said:  “Pu’ on the vy-ess, I want ze Harry Rime seem…”
  1. When David Knew That Absolom Was Slain – Thomas Weelkes  (1576-1623)
    One of the repertoire items sung by Chrissie on a UK tour with the University of Glasgow Chapel Choir. This version is superbly performed by Laurens Collegium, Netherlands.
  1. Where Corals Lie from Sea Pictures – Elgar, performed by Janet Baker
    Chrissie loved Janet Baker’s voice and interpretations, particularly her Elgar and Brahms work.
  1. An die Music – Franz Schubert, performed by Kathleen Ferrier
    Ferrier had a formative influence on Chrissie and this is a song which both Chrissie and her mother treasured.
  1. Bank Holiday – Eric Parkin
    Chrissie insisted on Michael playing this piece on every Bank Holiday from 1989 onwards
  1. Overture to Iolanthe – Gilbert and Sullivan, conducted by Isadore Godfrey
    Chrissie never forgot the excitement of the Overture before the opening of the Opera, in which she played the Fairy Queen, aged 14. Everybody was so pleased, and her Wee Grandpa delighted in the whole opera too and went to see her in it twice!
  1. Dancing in the Street – Martha and the Vandelas
    Chrissie did a very characteristic “arm dance” to this, and many other Motown songs, and it was so lovely to see and share her uninhibited delight.
  1. Scherzo from Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in E Minor
    Chrissie delighted in this whole symphony, but this movement was a particular favourite.
  1. Walk to the Paradise Gardens – Delius, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli
    A delightful and peaceful interlude, which Chrissie loved and often played as part of her General Studies lectures on “British Composers” when at Xaverian College.
  1. Cello Concerto – Elgar, performed by Jacqueline Du Pre
    The passion with which this was played had a marked influence upon Chrissie as a string player. She never recovered from the news of Du Pre’s untimely death and even recently was deeply moved by a documentary about her which she rediscovered on YouTube while recovering from her operation.
  1. Nocturne, Op 54 No 4 – Grieg
    Chrissie often asked for this to be played, especially in summer, and it was one of her last requests for Michael to play for her.
  1. Picnic – Michael Baron, performed by Katherine Rockhill
    Chrissie was frequently consulted during the creation of this piece, which Michael composed in memory of his piano teacher Dorothy Pilling to celebrate her role in the foundation of the Northern School, now the Royal Northern College of Music, on the occasion of its centenary, in 2022.
  1. Finale from the musical “Company” – Stephen Sondheim
    More than just a song, the sentiments in this finale from what Chrissie considered to be the perfect musical, became a maxim for her: And that’s what it’s really about, isn’t it? That’s what it’s rеally about: Company!
  1. Sixty Seconds – performed by Carroll Gibbons
    A humorous song from the 1940s which became an anthem for Chrissie and Michael.

    Sixty minutes got together
    And they decided to become an hour
    Twenty-four hours kept ticking away
    And they all voted to call it a day
    By calling it a day, there wasn’t time to say
    How much I love you

15. Cuban boy – by Frank Chacksfield, also known as the Still Game Theme Tune
We all enjoyed every episode of Still Game so much, and watched the series so many times together. This tune has become a part of our lives, and reminds us of the stories, times, and happy times Chrissie spent talking, laughing, and reminiscing about Dalmuir and Glasgow.

Chrissie was totally captivated by the natural performances of these skilled actors, and was heartened to hear many phrases in common parlance in her childhood, and she would embellish their authentic stories with memories of her own.

You can listen to the whole playlist in order: https://cloud.youraccompanist.com/s/zJ6bqfS3Dof4wiH


Life and legacy

An overview of Chrissie’s life:

Chrissie Baron – Her life and legacy

Early life

Christina McInnes Ferguson was born during The Depression in post-war Clydeside to Janet (Jenny) and Thomas (Tom) Ferguson. She was raised in a close-knit, forward-looking, strongly socialist-leaning family. She enjoyed holidays to Brighton, where many childhood photographs were taken, and always remembered fondly her holidays in Scotland, Aberdeen and Fife, as well as Rothesay and Whitley Bay.

Her maternal grandmother, Chrissie, and her “wee” grandfather, John, were major influences, as were her paternal grandparents, “Big Jimmy” and his wife, Meg. Meg played the piano and encouraged Chrissie to sing. Wee Grandpa taught Chrissie English grammar, architectural styles and art movements. Chrissie’s mother, Jenny, who was very inclined to sing happily around the house while constantly busying herself, had absorbed a great many major operatic arias, as sung by Eva Turner and Joan Cross on the wireless. 

The sudden, unexpected death of her father when she was aged just 17 had a lasting impact on Chrissie, not only influencing her academic and career choices in the short term but becoming, by the years, an ever more acute loss. 

Formative years

While attending Dalmuir Public School, Chrissie had the highest marks in the English paper in the Qualifying Examination at age 11 that had ever been awarded in the authority. She was a talented linguist, taking French and Latin Highers at Clydebank High School, both of which she knew were essential for university entrance. Her other beloved subjects were English, Geography and Music.

Always adept with her hands, Chrissie kept safe throughout her life a pair of hand-stitched aprons which she made at primary school, and marvelled at the fact that a six year old could have been expected to produce those tiny, neat stitches and attain a high quality of work at such a young age. She also once knitted socks for a primary school assignment, and turned the heels over a lunchtime. She was accused by the teacher of having had her mother complete the task, which was deeply unfair as there was hardly a more reluctant knitter than Jenny! 

Chrissie sang in Dalmuir Junior Choir under Miss Caldow; also in Dalmuir Parish Church choir, and also became an accomplished Double Bass player, and learned the piano, too. At Clydebank High School, she took leads in both Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas staged during her time there: “The Mikado” and “Iolanthe”. She was taught Double Bass by Tommy McNulty, a well-known bass player in the Glasgow theatres. Youth orchestra Summer schools followed at Pirniehall House, Croftamie in Stirlingshire.

University and beyond

Chrissie graduated from the University of Glasgow with an MA in Geography including Modern Studies, Economic History, Meteorology, Mapping, and Physical Geography, in addition to French, Logic, and Philosophy. She went on to Jordanhill College to obtain her Postgraduate Teaching Qualification. 

Chrissie joined the Chapel Choir at Glasgow University, a prestigious group still very much to the fore, which undertook a nationwide tour in the 1960s singing unaccompanied renaissance and early baroque music the cathedrals of Chester and Canterbury, among others. 

In every school and college where she taught, Chrissie was a valued colleague, and as well as supporting her students to achieve their potential, and navigating employment politics, she was fully supportive of all the musical activities of the particular place, where she would play double bass in the orchestras for shows and concerts, as well as singing soprano in choral groups and vocal consorts. She was extremely highly regarded by her students, and was a supportive and trusted tutor to many hundreds of teenagers.

Attachments

Chrissie was married twice: first to David (1973-1987) with whom she shares a daughter, Helen, born in 1978, and later to Michael (1989-2023). In 2000, Chrissie and Michael adopted a pair of ‘delinquent’ poodle puppies, siblings Teddy and Tilly, with whom they shared their homes, gardens and roast dinners for 13 years. Chrissie and Michael also acted for many years as UK guardians to Joe Tang, a talented violin and mathematics student from Hong Kong as he pursued his studies and university entrance.

She was also fond of her extended family: on David’s side, cousin Tamás, his wife Juli and their son Peter, and David’s grandmother, Illy, from whom Helen gets her first name. Michael’s sister, Margaret and her husband Stephen also held a special place in Chrissie’s heart.

Chrissie had the utmost concern for the welfare of others, and formed many lifelong friendships, connections and relationships which transcended the generations. These included former students, colleagues, neighbours. She always greatly valued the community of her neighbours: siblings Frances, John, Donald and Phyllis Price with whom she and David lodged in Bristol; Joyce and Leslie Rivers in the Forest of Dean; and, most recently, Marilyn and Michael, and Caron and Mark in Howsham.

Travels

Chrissie travelled extensively in Scotland and the Scottish Isles. She took many visits to Europe generally and Eastern Europe particularly including family visits to Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria during the period before the fall of communism, beginning in the 1960s. She also enjoyed stays in Austria, Germany, France, Italy, and the Balkans, and joined orchestral tours to Hong Kong, China and Australia.

Chrissie kept a miniature map of the British Isles in her handbag and coloured in each major road as she travelled along it for the first time. Her professional training and personal interest in weather systems and geomorphism meant that she was able to describe at length and in great detail the origins of specific landscapes, lakes, mountains, glaciers and coastlines.

But, where’er she roamed, there were many places which Chrissie called home at one time or another throughout her life: These include Dalmuir, Glasgow, Bristol, Manchester, The Forest of Dean, Blackburn and lastly, Howsham in North Lincolnshire which she lived for the longest of all… 

Helping the world to sing

Chrissie developed a vast musical knowledge, particularly of orchestral and song repertoire, musicals and opera, and had a phenomenal musical melodic memory. She also enjoyed assisting Michael with creative projects and compositions.

Early in 2005, Chrissie came up with the notion of making high quality – performed – piano accompaniments to be available for sale via the Internet. This established YOURACCOMPANIST with Michael at the piano, Helen and her husband, Christian, providing the platform, and Chrissie processing the first five thousand recordings. 

Through this venture, Chrissie established a medium that has helped the whole world to sing – and within a couple of years of opening for business in 2006, had reached all but two countries in the world. The website now has almost 50,000 user accounts. 

Interests

Chrissie took a huge interest in politics and frequently looked on with insight and alarm. To take her mind off things, she spent her spare time on cookery and baking, areas in which she became particularly skilled over the course of her life. 

She would keep an astonishing stock of spices, herbs and raw ingredients in the house and would plan her days around the development of dishes, many of which were Scottish or European in orientation. She regularly tackled such delights as cassoulet, pörkölt, schnitzel, Königsberger klopse, to name but a few recent triumphs, with forward planning and detailed execution. She loved the process of preparing vegetables and referred to her favourite potato peeler as her ‘weapon of choice’. Her annual Clootie Dumpling’ was an event in itself, which came along with stories and anecdotes of her childhood experiences. No strangers to a haggis, her family frequently enjoyed her very own whimsically coined “Burns Cottage Pie”. 

She learned Chinese cookery techniques with May of the Tradewinds supermarket in Scunthorpe, an experience which she treasured.

Her move to Lincolnshire in 2002 brought her into a wide-skied, fruit growing area which enabled her to refine her already highly competent jam- and preserve-making skills, obtaining gluts of mirabelles, damsons and strawberries from neighbours’ gardens and converting them into long-lasting delicacies to complement her bread, scones and cakes. 

As she worked on the redevelopment of her beloved home – a former methodist chapel with a view of the Lincolnshire wolds – she served up ‘legendary’ treats daily to the small army of workers who supported her in realising her vision for the building. This was her way of being certain they’d be back to finish the job!

Chrissie also had the greenest of fingers and used her knowledge of regional climate and soil compositions to foster the wellbeing of numerous gardens in various parts of the country. There are several well-aged plants on her kitchen window sill now greatly concerned for their future prospects.

Moving back to the Forest of Dean in 1997 gave Chrissie the chance to learn about MS DOS and the language of computing. This was further developed in an intensive course at Bournemouth College of Technology from 2000-2001 over many months, which gave Chrissie a confidence to work and also to experiment outside previously limited areas in the subject. She became skilled, experimental and bold in her digital explorations.

Gie’z a wee laugh

Chrissie had an amazing sense of humour which she displayed right to the end of her life, even referring to her hospice care as “being in The Pamper Suite”. 

She made everyone – including herself – laugh frequently with her authentic ‘patter’ and sense of humour, much of which could only have originated in her home town of Glasgow, and was in itself a kind of music. She revisited her favourite Glaswegian comedies on a regular basis, enabled by the wonder of YouTube: Francie and Josie, Dorothy Paul, Still Game, Chewin’ the Fat, The High Life, Billy Connolly, and Rab C Nesbitt to name but a few.

Illness

Chrissie was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. She fought the disease courageously and had nothing but admiration for the people treating her. She underwent successful major surgery under the care of Miss Kaur at Scunthorpe Hospital and extensive chemotherapy with Dr O’Toole and the team of nurses at the Amethyst Unit in Grimsby, and was also cared for by the nurses of the Queen’s Medical Centre, Castle Hill Hospital, East Yorkshire.

Throughout her illness, she enjoyed the company of close family, Michael, Helen and Christian, and her friends, Caron and Marylin, and remained amazed by the dedication of her doctors, surgeons and nurses.


Tributes, memories and stories

If you would like to leave a written tribute or you have a memory or story about Chrissie which you would like to share, please email: helensalgo@gmail.com.


Donations

Chrissie was supported in her final days by the incredible staff and volunteers at Lindsey Lodge Hospice in Scunthorpe. She referred to it as “The Pamper Suite”.

Donations can be made in her memory at www.lindseylodgehospice.org.uk/support-us/donations