Mike takes his final bow as The Guide’s classical expert

Mike Allen at The Kings Theatre in 'his seat'  in The Dress Circle.   Picture: Malcolm Wells
Mike Allen at The Kings Theatre in 'his seat' in The Dress Circle. Picture: Malcolm Wells
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The Guide’s classical music critic Mike Allen is taking a final bow after more than four decades in the arts and music spotlight in Portsmouth.

Mike has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a journalist, including stints as a sports editor and racing correspondent, and theatre and classical music critic at The News. In 1996, he was judged best regional newspaper critic in the country.

Every good performance deserves an encore and Mike certainly didn’t short-change his audience. Although he officially retired from The News in 2011, he agreed to carry on doing classical music reviews as a freelancer.

Six years on, it’s time to put down his pen for good. While Mike will continue to attend concerts, he has admitted he is looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the music without having to think about filing a review early the following morning.

A well-known figure locally, Mike is held in high esteem for his discerning reviews and elegant turn of phrase. News of his decision has attracted a flurry of praisefrom local music lovers and well-wishers expressing appreciation and thanks.

Lucinda Morrison, of Chichester Festival Theatre, says: ‘It has always been a pleasure to welcome Mike to Chichester Festival Theatre, whether as a perceptive interviewer or as a knowledgeable and discerning theatre and music critic. We and our audiences benefitted from his expertise to a huge degree over many years. We will always be grateful for Mike’s support and commitment and wish him health and happiness in his retirement.’

Di Wren, Portsmouth Festival Choir adds: ‘Our singers will miss Mike’s reviews of performances, which we always waited for with bated breath. We knew his remarks would be rigorous but fair.

‘Everyone was delighted when we received a favourable review; but we appreciated his less complimentary ones too. There is always room for improvement and he kept us on our toes!’

And Colin Jagger, Portsmouth University and Portsmouth Chamber Music says: ‘A keen supporter of the arts, Mike has been a real credit to The News with his excellent writing skills and in-depth knowledge of music.’

Trevor Masters, of Friends of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, says: ‘Mike has a sound and sensitive appreciation of music and of what makes a fine performance – that we do not have to travel to London, Berlin or Vienna for magnificent music-making because we have that here in Portsmouth with the BSO. One of the joys of reading his reviews is that he could recapture the magic of performances and transfer me right back into the concert hall to enjoy them all over again.’

Fiona Alsop will be taking over as classical music writer for The Guide. She adds: ‘Mike’s certainly going to be a hard act to follow.’

Fiona can be contacted via e-mail at fialsop@hotmail.co.uk