UK orchestra is shocked by death of young conductor

UK orchestra is shocked by death of young conductor


norman lebrecht

December 29, 2021

Members of the St Albans Symphony Orchestra have shared news of the sudden death of their conductor, Tom Hammond.

The New Year’s Cathedral concert this Saturday has been cancelled.

[A message from the orchestra’s co-chairs has been taken down from this report at their request.]

Tom Hammond founded the Hertfordshire Festival of Music in 2016 and worked regularly with orchestras on the outskirts of London. His recent soloists include Stephen Hough, Steven Isserlis and Veronika Shoot.

He was a fervent supporter of Palestinian causes and conductor of the Palestine Youth Orchestra.

Our sympathies to his family, musicians and friends.

UPDATE: Friends pay tribute-

PYO: We are shocked and saddened to learn that a great friend and family member of the Palestine Youth Orchestra Tom Hammond has passed away. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, May he Rest In Peace. The world has lost an amazing human being. Tom, thank you for everything, you will be dearly missed.

Mohamed Najem: All Palestinian musicians are mourning today.

Layth Hanbali: None of us will ever forget the kindness, energy, humour and humility of the amazing Tom Hammond. He gave young Palestinian musicians everything he had and loved Palestine so deeply. He wasn’t just our conductor; he became our colleague and friend, and part of the big family.
Every one of us was inspired and moved by your dedication, passion and your belief in us. I wish you could have come to Palestine just one last time.

Beth Taylor: The world has lost such an incredible talent and generous spirit. I’m heartbroken beyond words. Your support for young artists and kindness lifted my confidence and first connected me to the Hertfordshire Festival and its rich musical offerings; an experience that has stayed with me ever since I first telephoned you, a very enthusiastic wee student desperate to meet and sing to Dame Emma Kirkby, the first classical voice I ever heard as a child on my grandpa’s radio.

“Oh, your enthusiasm is wonderful- we’ll find a space for you in her masterclass if you can make your own way down to Hertfordshire, rest assured…we’ll sort it”.



  • This is very sad, shocking news. Tom was a good friend of mine and a great colleague. He will be very much missed by all who knew and worked with him.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Awful to go so young. What did he die of?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Absolutely ghastly.

  • V. Lind says:

    What a sad story. At least his family do not have to mark Christmas Day as his anniversary, but it will dampen the season for them for a long time, perhaps forever. And yo lose such a young man.


  • Richard Halliday says:

    This isn’t the place for discussion of the details surrounding Tom’s passing. This publication has not been requested or approved by his family. Requests for the removal of this article have been ignored by the author. An official announcement will be made in due course.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      This is completely untrue. We received notification, as stated, from members of the orchestra. We waited 24 hours so that family and friends could be informed. No request has been received for the removal of this article.
      We regret the sad event, but shooting the messenger is no remedy.

    • Rachel Hammond says:

      Dickie sadly the family and Tom’s beloved friends, colleagues and music family have not been considered here. I have been tweeting now for 24 hours – either deleted or ignored. We should not be having to do this at this time and you are right this is not the place for this discussion.

  • John Borstlap says:

    What an awful story. It forces people to think again about the priorities of their life.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    Interesting to see that there are, at the time of writing (1am Thursday), nine downticks for each of the three compassionate comments on this thread. There are some very sick people out there.

  • Thomas says:

    so sad news! May he rest in peace! and big heart to his family!
    (On his twitter he was posting he had his booster jab @19.12……)

  • Akutagawa says:

    What’s with all the downvotes here? I’ve never seen so many for a death notice on this site. I can only assume it relates to Mr Holland’s political views. Frankly, people gloating over someone’s death at 32 just because he conducted an orchestra with the name Palestine in it should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Lottie says:

      His name is mr Hammond, and he was 52, but otherwise I completely agree with you..

      • Marcel Mouse says:

        May be using a picture of Tom sporting a keffiyeh invited certain responses. There were plenty of other pictures to use. A fine musician and a likeable man who will be very much missed.

  • Fellow trombonist says:

    I can’t quite work out why there are so many dislikes on the lovely comments about Tom.. is it purely because he supported the Palestinian youth orchestra? Are people really that short sighted?

  • Alexander says:

    May be the dislikes are also because one should not ask for “how did he died” if it is not told…

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    This is very sad to read and heart-felt condolences must go to his family, friends and colleagues at this time.
    In line with some of the comments already posted, it is sometimes hard to see that this is a music posting site as so many articles seem to invoke a political slanging match, and Mea Culpa to that myself at times. There is no place for that with such a posting as this and I hope Tom’s friends that have contributed on here will see the positive comments about him and allow them to rise above those of the idiots who have no tact or sympathy at such times.

  • Brook says:

    Suspicious that this was right after his Covid booster shot and it was a heart attack inns young man. Just saying…

  • Mark Dylan says:

    It was the vaccine.