26 May

Dateline June 2010

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Following the great success of his “MGM Prom” last year, John Wilson and his hand-picked orchestra of top musicians will performing again at London’s Royal Albert Hall on the afternoon of Sunday 22 August commencing at 4:00 pm. This time John turns the spotlight on the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein with selections from great shows such as “The Sound Of Music”, “Carousel”, “The King And I”, “Flower Drum Song” and “Oklahoma!” The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and will be recorded by BBC Two for a television broadcast on Saturday 28 August. The concert is expected to last around 90 minutes, and singers will include Kim Criswell, Anna Jane Casey, Julian Ovenden and Rod Gilfry with the Maida Vale Singers.

If you live in or around London you may want to be at the Cadogan Hall on Tuesday 22 June at 7.30pm. Three of our leading composer/conductors will be on the podium in front of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert which includes the premiere of Adrian Sutton’s Suite taken from the music for the play “War Horse”. Other highlights include Geoffrey Burgon’s “Brideshead Revisited”, Nigel Hess’ Suite “The Food of Love” and Christopher Gunning’s “Oboe Concerto”, with the solo performed by his daughter Verity. Nigel Hess, Christopher Gunning and Gavin Sutherland are the distinguished conductors, and the box office is 020 7730 4500.

On 5 February “Friday Night Is Music Night” was devoted to the music of Angela Morley. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Keith Lockhart, who is the current principal conductor of the Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra, which often commissioned special arrangements from Angela. Several from the orchestra’s library were included in the programme. Another special feature was extracts arranged by Angela for the musical “The Good Companions” by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer. Among the works featured were: Tara theme from “Gone With The Wind”, A Canadian In Mayfair, My Funny Valentine, themes from “The Quiet Man”, Music Of The Night, Keehar’s theme from “Watership Down”, Main title and love theme from “Superman” (Angela assisted John Williams on several of his most famous film scores), Lover, Christmas Song, Oblivion, Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing, Laura, No One Is Alone and Waltz from “Slipper And The Rose”. Angela’s partner. Christine Parker, heard the broadcast via the internet and she told us: “You can imagine my pride in this latest grand homage covering so much of the gamut of her work, and of course I wept a bit; just the grandeur of the orchestra sound in Tara got me going, and I was happy they chose the Slipper and the Rose Waltz as a finale. When you think how her career went from Geraldo through Dusty Springfield, Noel Coward and Mel Torme all the way to Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, it's staggering, isn't it! They just couldn't resist quoting Harry Secombe's tasteless joke again unfortunately. Still, it was gratifying to hear the tremendous applause after certain items, like Oblivion. It was quite a coup getting Keith Lockhart to conduct: that way they could have access to the Boston Pops Library. I'm so glad the Beeb pulled out all the stops!” A short while after the concert, Keith Lockhart sent a personal message to Chris: “Bridget Apps, the BBC producer, was kind enough to forward me your email. I'm glad you enjoyed the tribute to Angela's music (except for the Harry Secombe line, which I was shocked that they used, honestly). I didn't have the privilege of knowing Angela well, but was the beneficiary of her beautiful creations, both of my own commissions with the Pops and through my associations with Mel and John Williams. It was an honour to bring all of those beautiful settings together on one programme.”

Although we are sure that many RFS members have read and enjoyed publications from Reader’s Digest over the ages, it is perhaps their light orchestral records that have delighted us the most. In their most productive period from the 1960s onwards, conductors and arrangers such as Robert Farnon, Angela Morley and many others using pseudonyms created some beautiful music, often recorded in London. Therefore the news earlier this year that Reader’s Digest was in serious financial difficulties will have saddened many of us. Did it mean the end of those lovely recordings, and the frequent letters telling us that we might have won £300,000 in their latest draw (even if we didn’t buy the products they were trying to sell us)? It seems that the huge hole in their pension fund was the main reason for the financial meltdown. It seems that someone has come to their rescue – at least the British operation; surely there must be some real value in all that Reader’s Digest has achieved during its long history.

Kevin Stapylton has reminded us that the Decca versions of Robert Farnon’s "Portrait of a Flirt" were different on the “Journey into Melody” 10 inch LP and the later 12 inch "Melody Fair". The latter version is the most widely known, and is the same as on the original Decca 78 by the Kingsway Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bob. The other version (on the 10” LP) would have drifted into obscurity were it not for Mike Dutton who has put the lesser-known take of this piece on to his bargain-price CD "Fingerbustin’”. Presumably it was an alternative take at the same session. If RFS members want to ensure that their Farnon collections are as complete as possible, they should know that the Dutton CD is an essential ‘must have’ - if only for that rare track!

A shock ran through the music business in February when it was suggested in the press that the famous Abbey Road studios might be sold by EMI, who are trying to reduce their considerable debts. The story was quickly denied, but the situation – as they say – is ‘fluid’. There was one report that the National Trust might launch an appeal to buy the famous studios. No doubt this story will surface again, and goodness knows what the position will be by the time this news appears in print. One headline ran: “Abbey Road for sale – zebra crossing not included”!

Terence Gilmore-Jones writes to say that the 2009 Centenary of his wife’s father, Mansel Thomas (1909-1986) went well, and in response to suggestions from friends and admirers special events are being extended into June this year. Ideally they would like to see some of his compositions appear on a CD, particularly the Six Welsh Dances, Breton Suite and Variations on a Nursery Rhyme – Polly Put The Kettle On. They are part of a popular group Mansel wrote for the BBC Welsh Orchestra when he was their Principal Conductor following the Second World War.

Members will recall reading about Nicola Farnon in previous magazines. In a recent message she updates us on her current activities: “I was regularly in touch with Robert Farnon - on the phone and in letters - until his death and he really was fantastically encouraging and brilliantly enthusiastic as ever - right up until the end. I'm still gigging and recording up and down the country and people can still get to see what I'm up to on my website - www.nicolafarnonmusic.com. I also have a new project that might interest some members.... It is entitled Nicola Farnon and The Divas of Song and basically covers the wonderful ladies of swing (Ella, Anita, Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone and many more - and touches slightly on soul with Aretha Franklyn and Dusty Springfield) and spans from the 1930s to the 1960s and includes the hits they had, some anecdotes and wonderful arrangements for a six piece band (which of course includes me on double bass and vocals!). It has a website with more information at www.divasofsong.co.uk. I'm still ‘oop Narth’ in Sheffield(!) and the girls are now eleven and nine years old and blossoming into beauties.... of course I am biased! But I do get down south most holidays to visit mum in Wiltshire. At most gigs I get people coming up to ask if I'm related to the late great Bob Farnon and the more I hear and learn about him and listen to his wonderful music the more proud I feel that he is a relative (my dad's cousin to be precise - their fathers were brothers who left Ireland at the turn of the century for Canada and my dad's father came back to England) and that he must be somewhere in my genes!”

Thanks to Philip Farlow (who seems to know all the right people!) another ‘lost’ recording of a “Canada Show” broadcast is now safely tucked away in the RFS archives. Members heard an extract at the recent London meeting. The show actually dates from just after the end of the Second World War – it went out live from the Queensbury Club on the AEF Programme on Monday 9 July 1945. Captain Bob Farnon and the Canadian Band of the AEF were joined by the harpist Mario ‘Harp’ Lorenzi, with comperes Gerry Wilmot and Wilf Davidson: the announcer was Dick Misener and the featured vocalists Paul Carpenter, Joanne Dallas and Gerry Travers.. The programme included Trolley Song (Chorus), Idaho, Robin Hood (Paul Carpenter), Poet and Peasant (Mario Lorenzi), Cherokee, Too Much In Love (Joanne Dallas), Stairway To The Stars, The Men of Harlech (Mario Lorenzi), Loch Lomond (Mario Lorenzi), Poinciana (Gerry Travers and chorus).

We hope our UK members noticed the schedules for BBC Four on Easter Sunday. In one of the rare treats, for which this channel is now becoming recognised, was a tribute to American songwriter Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics to around 1,500 songs – many of them among the finest of the last century. Even if you didn’t watch just for Johnny himself, the never-ending film clips and interviews with the stars were sheer bliss for those of us of ‘a certain age’. The producers must have had a real headache securing the rights and no doubt paying substantial fees for all the vintage recordings used – but how it was all so worth while! This BBC co-production (Clint Eastwood was the main producer) included British material, and it was good to see snatches of interviews with Michael Parkinson and Humphrey Lyttleton. As a bonus the following programme was a repeat of a BBC show from 1974 in which Johnny was ‘In Concert’ with the Harry Roche Constellation.

On 16 April “Friday Night Is Music Night” had an Indian theme, and the BBC Concert Orchestra wanted to perform Robert Farnon’s Taj Mahal. Unfortunately it was not possible to locate the score; possibly it may have been one of those lost in the disastrous Chappell fire in 1964.

If you attended our London meeting in April 2009 you will have had the pleasure of meeting Marjorie Cullerne and Gilles Gouset. They are understandably excited about new CDs of Haydn Wood’s music, and we recently received the following report from them. “It is with great confidence that we announce the long awaited CD release of Haydn Wood's Violin Concerto (1928). Many of you will remember the thrill you had listening to Haydn Wood's Violin Concerto on BBC Radio 3 in 2008, with soloist Tasmin Little, and Gavin Sutherland conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. At last, the concerto has been recorded by Dutton Epoch in October 2009, with soloist Lorraine McAslan, and an ever-so-devoted Gavin Sutherland and the BBC Concert Orchestra. The CD includes yet another thrill – Haydn Wood's long-forgotten Adagio for Violin and Orchestra (1905), the manuscript of which we found languishing at the BBC Music Library. If you love Haydn Wood's light music, you'll love his serious music. He always remained true to his own style – beautiful melody, consummate orchestral writing, with sophisticated and elegant harmonies floating easily one into the other. He was from his early twenties totally at home writing big forms; the Adagio dates from 1905, around the same time he wrote his symphony and his piano concerto. Lorraine McAslan's grand and sweet-toned virtuosity admirably suits the Violin Concerto, and her sensitivity captures the dreamy, caressing mood of the Adagio. The CD also includes Lionel Sainsbury's Violin Concerto (1989). You can read all details about the Dutton Epoch CD on the Dutton web page. And if you love Haydn Wood's songs, you still can purchase our CD ‘A Breezy Ballad’, 24 songs and ballads of Haydn Wood.”

Tony Bennett was featured in several UK newspaper articles in mid-April. The Daily Telegraph included a reference to his work with Robert Farnon: “The rock and pop revolution of the Sixties eclipsed the jazz music he loved and the kind of songs that had defined Bennett’s career, and Columbia Records pressurised him to record contemporary pop hits. The final straw was his 1970 album Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! - a commercial and artistic catastrophe. It prompted a split with Columbia, and while Bennett experimented with his own label, Improv, and cut a pair of well-received albums with jazz pianist Bill Evans, the end of the Seventies found him without a record deal and facing career burn-out. A cocaine habit didn’t help. Bennett strenuously plays down this low period now, insisting that he came to England and found a new lease of life collaborating with composer and arranger Robert Farnon. ‘Columbia promoted the idea that my career went down and my records stopped selling,’ he claims. ‘I had the greatest time of my life in England for a couple of years, and Robert Farnon made some of the best music I’ve ever been around.’ 'Tony Bennett Sings the Ultimate American Songbook Vol. 1’ was released on Sony on Apr 19.”

Geoff Sheldon. Chairman of the Eric Coates Society tells us that they are now working on a follow-up concert in view of the success of last year’s “Eric Coates – The Man and his Music”. On October 16th a concert entitled “Eric Coates and Other Music” will feature Peter Dempsey and Guy Rowlands, The Nottinghamshire Police Band and the Eastwood Collieries Male Voice Choir. Geoff is especially looking forward to hearing the Police Band play Men of Trent, which Eric Coates composed for them. They still have the original manuscript supplied by Coates. The venue will again be the Central Methodist Chapel in Hucknall, some 500 yards from ‘Tenter Hill’, the house where Eric Coates spent his formative years and began his music lessons.

The Editor is always delighted when RFS members make suggestions for new features in our magazine. A recent note from Philip Farlow certainly rekindled happy memories for him of buying precious 78s 60 years ago. At the time David Ades was a schoolboy living in Leigh-on-Sea, and ‘his’ record shop was Hodges and Johnson, although you had to weave your way through the pianos to reach the small room at the back where the records were kept. If you wanted to hear them an elderly gentleman would put them on a record player, often managing to skate the pickup over the first few grooves! Were your experiences similar? Here’s what Philip suggests: “How about appealing in Jumping Bean for readers to write about their early days of record collecting; not so much what was bought but from the angle of where they actually bought records from. All the original type of record outlets like music shops, radio TV and electrical stores and other unlikely places that retailed records have now all but disappeared. These places were often full of original character, many going back to the twenties and before, employing a whole variety of respected (or otherwise) characters of largely varying vintages. The larger chains and music shops generally had a proper record department with permanent knowledgeable staff - whilst in smaller towns and particularly in radio, TV and electrical stores one often found records resigned to a corner, upstairs, downstairs or anywhere they could be shuffled to, with just a Saturday assistant dealing with all and sundry - perhaps not very well. Being even in my early days of technical inquisitiveness it never ceased to intrigue me the different number of ways there were to audition records. I recall converted radiograms playing 'out loud' into the department, record players on counters, corridors leading to quite large separated rooms connected to record players under the control of the counter staff and of course record booths, some self operative and others operated from the counter. I always thought that the ultimate sophistication was the 'Record Browserie', one of which operated with a fair degree of success on the premises of radio and TV dealer Wisehill and Field in my home town of Andover, Hampshire. This was opened in the mid 1950's by none other than the then BBC Showband pianist Bill McGuffie who afterwards entertained patrons of the White Hart Hotel late into the evening with his unique jazz/cocktail style of the time. All kinds of self operative record playing was of course open to mis-use. In Record Browseries you had at your disposal all of the stock and if unobserved you could spend a good long time 'wearing out' your favourites and not being obliged to buy anything. I also know of stories connected with records being bought at smaller stores and, dying to hear one's latest purchase before the journey home they were taken into much larger stores where they could be played in self operated booths without anyone being any the wiser!”

Members of the RFS who live in the area of North-West England served by BBC Radio Cumbria will know that Harry King hosts a regular programme devoted mainly to music from the middle years of the 20th century. For his evening show on bank holiday Monday, 3 May, he invited three Robert Farnon Society members to join him. Alan Bunting explained the mysteries of digital sound restoration, with some fascinating examples of ‘before and after’; Brian Reynolds recalled the glory days of ‘Music While You Work’; and David Ades talked about Robert Farnon and other light music personalities. David’s contribution was recorded at the BBC studios in Taunton on 21 April, but it is hoped that it sounded like he was actually in the Cumbria studio with Harry. There was plenty of light music throughout the show, which could be heard live throughout the world on the internet on the BBC website. The programme was also available via the ‘Listen Again’ facility for seven days after the original broadcast. We hope that many members will have spotted the news in advance on our own website on the ‘Latest News’ page. If you have internet facilities, you should regularly visit www.rfsoc.org.uk to pick up any latest news items.

JOHN FOX : MY MUSICAL WORLD
Published by Eloquent Books (USA) Hardback 375 pages ISBN 978-1-60860-302-2
We know that this autobiography has been a labour of love for John Fox stretching back several years. The fact that it has now been published should be a measure of great satisfaction for him, since it represents a considerable achievement. John has documented the trials and tribulations – as well as the many highs – of being a musician during the 20th century. Not many people have managed to make a career out of music, and it is immeasurably more difficult today since the many broadcasting orchestras around the world have all but disappeared. Once upon a time professional musicians represented a significant number of the workforce, but not any more. As well as being a fascinating study of life as a musician, John has also allowed us into his personal life, and his ‘Wishes’ and ‘Hopes’ towards the end of his book indicate that he is being honest with his readers. Warmly recommended!

British RFS Members Hear One Of Robert Farnon’s Last Works
Members at our 2010 Spring meeting in London were the first outside North America to hear one of the last works composed by Robert Farnon.
In Journal Into Melody 165 (September 2005) Dr. Stanley Saunders, in his article “Robert Farnon – Genius and Humility: A Canadian Perspective”, gave the background details of how the work “American Wind Symphony – The Gaels” was commissioned by Professor Darryl Bott, Assistant Director Of Bands at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA on behalf of the award-winning Honors Wind Symphony at Roxbury High School, New Jersey..
Dr. Saunders explained: “In several discussions with me about instrumentation, musical clefs, notation and so on regarding this new multi-movement work, Robert was particularly enthusiastic about the use of the Celtic drums that play an important part in the ‘Finale’ of the Wind Symphony. The knowledge that Robert played percussion in the Toronto Symphony Junior Orchestra at the age of twelve, and that he was a drummer in his brother Brian’s band for three years, clearly demonstrated his passion and continued interest in percussion.”
The premiere of this work took place at Roxbury High School on 25 May 2006 with RFS member Dr. Stanley Saunders conducting the Wind Band. It is this performance that RFS members heard on 28 March. The programme notes for the occasion were printed in JIM 170 (December 2006) so need not be reprinted here. However Dr. Saunders has kindly sent us a Review of the premiere, from which you will note that Robert Farnon’s inspiration was the many Scots and Irish who immigrated to the USA, taking their musical heritage with them.

Review
The world premiere of the American Wind Symphony: The Gaels composed by the celebrated composer, Robert Farnon, was presented on the evening of Thursday, May 25, 2006 in the 1500 seat Roxbury High School Auditorium at Succasunna, New Jersey. The composition and the performance received a standing ovation that demanded the final section of the Symphony to be repeated. The Gala Celebration Concert was the culminating event of the weeklong highly successful Artist in Residence biennial programme that is an essential part of the Arts Festival.
American Wind Symphony: The Gaels is dedicated by the composer to Dr. Stanley Saunders, the 2006 Artist in Residence, who conducted the premiere performance. The work is scored for piccolo; Flutes 1 and 2; Oboes 1 and 2; Clarinets 1, 2, and 3; alto clarinet; bass clarinet; bassoons 1 and 2; alto saxophone I and 2; tenor saxophone 1 and 2; baritone saxophone; French horns 1, 2, 3, and 4; Trumpets 1, 2, and 3; trombones I, 2, and 3; euphoniums I, 2, and 3; tubas; string bass; and a percussion section that consists of piano, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, celeste, bells, chimes, wind chimes, tambour, triangle, tambourine, tam-tam, small and large cymbals, snare drum, bass drum, sand block, finger cymbals, and Scottish side drum.
The Roxbury High School Honors Wind Symphony, Roxbury High School, Succasunna, New Jersey, USA, Director, Mr. Todd Nichols, commissioned the work. Professor Darryl Bott, Former Director, who now teaches at Rutgers University, New Jersey, made the arrangements.
The Honors Wind Symphony consisting of fifty-seven chosen instrumentalists has earned an outstanding reputation over the last decade and is regarded as one of the foremost wind ensembles in the United States. The ensemble has been selected as the Grand Champion Winner at Festivals in many States including Virginia, Ohio, Washington, D.C.as well as International Festivals including Toronto, Ontario, Canada—the birthplace of the composer. In addition, the Ensemble has performed at the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center, the Carnegie Hall in New York City and other prestigious performing venues.
The opening section of the composition, Introduction, started with a crescendo roll throughout the percussion section, which heralded a spirited and delineated fanfare-like section in the brass based on a phrase from Scotland the Brave. A lyrical, flowing melody followed in the low reed and brass instruments above which a florid woodwind counterpoint was woven that was complimented by percussion colourations. A ‘lento’ section that featured the keyboards and mallet instruments along with solo flute and bassoon, led to the second section, The Warriors. A quiet, solo timpani roll introduced this ‘Allegro’ section with pyramid-like entries in the muted brass in triple metre. This triple-metre passage increased in volume and intensity as other instruments made their entries. This portion of the work subsided both in tempo and in dynamics with a flute solo followed by a keyboard link that transformed the mood from one of tension to a feeling of peace that continued throughout section three, The Lament: Emerald Isle. This moving melody was presented in antiphonal four-bar phrases throughout the wind ensemble. The modulating sequences played by the clarinets and saxophones continued with a quickening of pace. This passage was followed by a sudden change of mood that illumed Farnon’s great skill and ingenuity in orchestration as the high woodwinds floated breezily along while the whole percussion section provided shimmering and scintillating contrapuntal embellishments. The whole ensemble then made a spirited entry with staccato utterances from the low brass and tam tam [gong] leading into section four, Battle Cry. This rousing ‘presto’ section clearly depicted the Warriors as they prepared for action. A soft roll in the percussion followed by a sustained tone in the French horns and low reeds led to section five, The Lassie. During this part of the composition, one could almost see and smell the heather of the Highlands as the solo piccolo quietly played the main theme in brisk fashion accompanied by the captivation rhythm of the Scottish side drum. The work increased in excitement and intensity as other sections of the wind ensemble joined in. Section six, Bluebells, was announced in an unusual 5/4 metre, while the contrasting The Lassie theme continued in the piccolo, flutes, oboe, and keyboards as a dancing filigree counterpoint. The main theme, Bluebells, continued but has now reverted to its more familiar quadruple metre. The Introduction music now reappeared in full dress and section seven, Scotland the Brave, was announced in ‘vivace’ fashion by the trumpet section against an invigorating triplet figure in the high woodwinds, mallet, and keyboard instruments. The dance-like figure made its final, furious appearance at a ‘presto’ tempo and the thrilling build up concluded in stirring fashion with solo timpani and full ensemble presenting a dramatic climax.
Robert Farnon’s seven-part composition, An American Wind Symphony: The Gaels is a perfect symphonic wind ensemble setting that reflects the history of The Gaels both at Roxbury High School and throughout the ages. The composition has programmatic aspects that are reflected in the Celtic melodies upon which the work is based, yet it still retained an overriding sense of formal splendour and majesty.
The performance received an exciting and passionate reading by both conductor and performers that not only brought to life the musical history of the past but also reflected the greatness and the versatility of the genius of the composer, Robert Farnon.
(The author of this review has not been disclosed to us).

Following the great success of his “MGM Prom” last year, John Wilson and his hand-picked orchestra of top musicians will performing again at London’s Royal Albert Hall on the afternoon of Sunday 22 August commencing at 4:00 pm. This time John turns the spotlight on the musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein with selections from great shows such as “The Sound Of Music”, “Carousel”, “The King And I”, “Flower Drum Song” and “Oklahoma!” The concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, and will be recorded by BBC Two for a television broadcast on Saturday 28 August. The concert is expected to last around 90 minutes, and singers will include Kim Criswell, Anna Jane Casey, Julian Ovenden and Rod Gilfry with the Maida Vale Singers.

If you live in or around London you may want to be at the Cadogan Hall on Tuesday 22 June at 7.30pm. Three of our leading composer/conductors will be on the podium in front of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert which includes the premiere of Adrian Sutton’s Suite taken from the music for the play “War Horse”. Other highlights include Geoffrey Burgon’s “Brideshead Revisited”, Nigel Hess’ Suite “The Food of Love” and Christopher Gunning’s “Oboe Concerto”, with the solo performed by his daughter Verity. Nigel Hess, Christopher Gunning and Gavin Sutherland are the distinguished conductors, and the box office is 020 7730 4500.

On 5 February “Friday Night Is Music Night” was devoted to the music of Angela Morley. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Keith Lockhart, who is the current principal conductor of the Boston ‘Pops’ Orchestra, which often commissioned special arrangements from Angela. Several from the orchestra’s library were included in the programme. Another special feature was extracts arranged by Angela for the musical “The Good Companions” by Andre Previn and Johnny Mercer. Among the works featured were: Tara theme from “Gone With The Wind”, A Canadian In Mayfair, My Funny Valentine, themes from “The Quiet Man”, Music Of The Night, Keehar’s theme from “Watership Down”, Main title and love theme from “Superman” (Angela assisted John Williams on several of his most famous film scores), Lover, Christmas Song, Oblivion, Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing, Laura, No One Is Alone and Waltz from “Slipper And The Rose”. Angela’s partner. Christine Parker, heard the broadcast via the internet and she told us: “You can imagine my pride in this latest grand homage covering so much of the gamut of her work, and of course I wept a bit; just the grandeur of the orchestra sound in Tara got me going, and I was happy they chose the Slipper and the Rose Waltz as a finale. When you think how her career went from Geraldo through Dusty Springfield, Noel Coward and Mel Torme all the way to Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, it's staggering, isn't it! They just couldn't resist quoting Harry Secombe's tasteless joke again unfortunately. Still, it was gratifying to hear the tremendous applause after certain items, like Oblivion. It was quite a coup getting Keith Lockhart to conduct: that way they could have access to the Boston Pops Library. I'm so glad the Beeb pulled out all the stops!” A short while after the concert, Keith Lockhart sent a personal message to Chris: “Bridget Apps, the BBC producer, was kind enough to forward me your email. I'm glad you enjoyed the tribute to Angela's music (except for the Harry Secombe line, which I was shocked that they used, honestly). I didn't have the privilege of knowing Angela well, but was the beneficiary of her beautiful creations, both of my own commissions with the Pops and through my associations with Mel and John Williams. It was an honour to bring all of those beautiful settings together on one programme.”

Although we are sure that many RFS members have read and enjoyed publications from Reader’s Digest over the ages, it is perhaps their light orchestral records that have delighted us the most. In their most productive period from the 1960s onwards, conductors and arrangers such as Robert Farnon, Angela Morley and many others using pseudonyms created some beautiful music, often recorded in London. Therefore the news earlier this year that Reader’s Digest was in serious financial difficulties will have saddened many of us. Did it mean the end of those lovely recordings, and the frequent letters telling us that we might have won £300,000 in their latest draw (even if we didn’t buy the products they were trying to sell us)? It seems that the huge hole in their pension fund was the main reason for the financial meltdown. It seems that someone has come to their rescue – at least the British operation; surely there must be some real value in all that Reader’s Digest has achieved during its long history.

Kevin Stapylton has reminded us that the Decca versions of Robert Farnon’s "Portrait of a Flirt" were different on the “Journey into Melody” 10 inch LP and the later 12 inch "Melody Fair". The latter version is the most widely known, and is the same as on the original Decca 78 by the Kingsway Symphony Orchestra conducted by Bob. The other version (on the 10” LP) would have drifted into obscurity were it not for Mike Dutton who has put the lesser-known take of this piece on to his bargain-price CD "Fingerbustin’”. Presumably it was an alternative take at the same session. If RFS members want to ensure that their Farnon collections are as complete as possible, they should know that the Dutton CD is an essential ‘must have’ - if only for that rare track!

A shock ran through the music business in February when it was suggested in the press that the famous Abbey Road studios might be sold by EMI, who are trying to reduce their considerable debts. The story was quickly denied, but the situation – as they say – is ‘fluid’. There was one report that the National Trust might launch an appeal to buy the famous studios. No doubt this story will surface again, and goodness knows what the position will be by the time this news appears in print. One headline ran: “Abbey Road for sale – zebra crossing not included”!

Terence Gilmore-Jones writes to say that the 2009 Centenary of his wife’s father, Mansel Thomas (1909-1986) went well, and in response to suggestions from friends and admirers special events are being extended into June this year. Ideally they would like to see some of his compositions appear on a CD, particularly the Six Welsh Dances, Breton Suite and Variations on a Nursery Rhyme – Polly Put The Kettle On. They are part of a popular group Mansel wrote for the BBC Welsh Orchestra when he was their Principal Conductor following the Second World War.

Members will recall reading about Nicola Farnon in previous magazines. In a recent message she updates us on her current activities: “I was regularly in touch with Robert Farnon - on the phone and in letters - until his death and he really was fantastically encouraging and brilliantly enthusiastic as ever - right up until the end. I'm still gigging and recording up and down the country and people can still get to see what I'm up to on my website - www.nicolafarnonmusic.com. I also have a new project that might interest some members.... It is entitled Nicola Farnon and The Divas of Song and basically covers the wonderful ladies of swing (Ella, Anita, Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone and many more - and touches slightly on soul with Aretha Franklyn and Dusty Springfield) and spans from the 1930s to the 1960s and includes the hits they had, some anecdotes and wonderful arrangements for a six piece band (which of course includes me on double bass and vocals!). It has a website with more information at www.divasofsong.co.uk. I'm still ‘oop Narth’ in Sheffield(!) and the girls are now eleven and nine years old and blossoming into beauties.... of course I am biased! But I do get down south most holidays to visit mum in Wiltshire. At most gigs I get people coming up to ask if I'm related to the late great Bob Farnon and the more I hear and learn about him and listen to his wonderful music the more proud I feel that he is a relative (my dad's cousin to be precise - their fathers were brothers who left Ireland at the turn of the century for Canada and my dad's father came back to England) and that he must be somewhere in my genes!”

Thanks to Philip Farlow (who seems to know all the right people!) another ‘lost’ recording of a “Canada Show” broadcast is now safely tucked away in the RFS archives. Members heard an extract at the recent London meeting. The show actually dates from just after the end of the Second World War – it went out live from the Queensbury Club on the AEF Programme on Monday 9 July 1945. Captain Bob Farnon and the Canadian Band of the AEF were joined by the harpist Mario ‘Harp’ Lorenzi, with comperes Gerry Wilmot and Wilf Davidson: the announcer was Dick Misener and the featured vocalists Paul Carpenter, Joanne Dallas and Gerry Travers.. The programme included Trolley Song (Chorus), Idaho, Robin Hood (Paul Carpenter), Poet and Peasant (Mario Lorenzi), Cherokee, Too Much In Love (Joanne Dallas), Stairway To The Stars, The Men of Harlech (Mario Lorenzi), Loch Lomond (Mario Lorenzi), Poinciana (Gerry Travers and chorus).

We hope our UK members noticed the schedules for BBC Four on Easter Sunday. In one of the rare treats, for which this channel is now becoming recognised, was a tribute to American songwriter Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics to around 1,500 songs – many of them among the finest of the last century. Even if you didn’t watch just for Johnny himself, the never-ending film clips and interviews with the stars were sheer bliss for those of us of ‘a certain age’. The producers must have had a real headache securing the rights and no doubt paying substantial fees for all the vintage recordings used – but how it was all so worth while! This BBC co-production (Clint Eastwood was the main producer) included British material, and it was good to see snatches of interviews with Michael Parkinson and Humphrey Lyttleton. As a bonus the following programme was a repeat of a BBC show from 1974 in which Johnny was ‘In Concert’ with the Harry Roche Constellation.

On 16 April “Friday Night Is Music Night” had an Indian theme, and the BBC Concert Orchestra wanted to perform Robert Farnon’s Taj Mahal. Unfortunately it was not possible to locate the score; possibly it may have been one of those lost in the disastrous Chappell fire in 1964.

If you attended our London meeting in April 2009 you will have had the pleasure of meeting Marjorie Cullerne and Gilles Gouset. They are understandably excited about new CDs of Haydn Wood’s music, and we recently received the following report from them. “It is with great confidence that we announce the long awaited CD release of Haydn Wood's Violin Concerto (1928). Many of you will remember the thrill you had listening to Haydn Wood's Violin Concerto on BBC Radio 3 in 2008, with soloist Tasmin Little, and Gavin Sutherland conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. At last, the concerto has been recorded by Dutton Epoch in October 2009, with soloist Lorraine McAslan, and an ever-so-devoted Gavin Sutherland and the BBC Concert Orchestra. The CD includes yet another thrill – Haydn Wood's long-forgotten Adagio for Violin and Orchestra (1905), the manuscript of which we found languishing at the BBC Music Library. If you love Haydn Wood's light music, you'll love his serious music. He always remained true to his own style – beautiful melody, consummate orchestral writing, with sophisticated and elegant harmonies floating easily one into the other. He was from his early twenties totally at home writing big forms; the Adagio dates from 1905, around the same time he wrote his symphony and his piano concerto. Lorraine McAslan's grand and sweet-toned virtuosity admirably suits the Violin Concerto, and her sensitivity captures the dreamy, caressing mood of the Adagio. The CD also includes Lionel Sainsbury's Violin Concerto (1989). You can read all details about the Dutton Epoch CD on the Dutton web page. And if you love Haydn Wood's songs, you still can purchase our CD ‘A Breezy Ballad’, 24 songs and ballads of Haydn Wood.”

Tony Bennett was featured in several UK newspaper articles in mid-April. The Daily Telegraph included a reference to his work with Robert Farnon: “The rock and pop revolution of the Sixties eclipsed the jazz music he loved and the kind of songs that had defined Bennett’s career, and Columbia Records pressurised him to record contemporary pop hits. The final straw was his 1970 album Tony Sings the Great Hits of Today! - a commercial and artistic catastrophe. It prompted a split with Columbia, and while Bennett experimented with his own label, Improv, and cut a pair of well-received albums with jazz pianist Bill Evans, the end of the Seventies found him without a record deal and facing career burn-out. A cocaine habit didn’t help. Bennett strenuously plays down this low period now, insisting that he came to England and found a new lease of life collaborating with composer and arranger Robert Farnon. ‘Columbia promoted the idea that my career went down and my records stopped selling,’ he claims. ‘I had the greatest time of my life in England for a couple of years, and Robert Farnon made some of the best music I’ve ever been around.’ 'Tony Bennett Sings the Ultimate American Songbook Vol. 1’ was released on Sony on Apr 19.”

Geoff Sheldon. Chairman of the Eric Coates Society tells us that they are now working on a follow-up concert in view of the success of last year’s “Eric Coates – The Man and his Music”. On October 16th a concert entitled “Eric Coates and Other Music” will feature Peter Dempsey and Guy Rowlands, The Nottinghamshire Police Band and the Eastwood Collieries Male Voice Choir. Geoff is especially looking forward to hearing the Police Band play Men of Trent, which Eric Coates composed for them. They still have the original manuscript supplied by Coates. The venue will again be the Central Methodist Chapel in Hucknall, some 500 yards from ‘Tenter Hill’, the house where Eric Coates spent his formative years and began his music lessons.

The Editor is always delighted when RFS members make suggestions for new features in our magazine. A recent note from Philip Farlow certainly rekindled happy memories for him of buying precious 78s 60 years ago. At the time David Ades was a schoolboy living in Leigh-on-Sea, and ‘his’ record shop was Hodges and Johnson, although you had to weave your way through the pianos to reach the small room at the back where the records were kept. If you wanted to hear them an elderly gentleman would put them on a record player, often managing to skate the pickup over the first few grooves! Were your experiences similar? Here’s what Philip suggests: “How about appealing in Jumping Bean for readers to write about their early days of record collecting; not so much what was bought but from the angle of where they actually bought records from. All the original type of record outlets like music shops, radio TV and electrical stores and other unlikely places that retailed records have now all but disappeared. These places were often full of original character, many going back to the twenties and before, employing a whole variety of respected (or otherwise) characters of largely varying vintages. The larger chains and music shops generally had a proper record department with permanent knowledgeable staff - whilst in smaller towns and particularly in radio, TV and electrical stores one often found records resigned to a corner, upstairs, downstairs or anywhere they could be shuffled to, with just a Saturday assistant dealing with all and sundry - perhaps not very well. Being even in my early days of technical inquisitiveness it never ceased to intrigue me the different number of ways there were to audition records. I recall converted radiograms playing 'out loud' into the department, record players on counters, corridors leading to quite large separated rooms connected to record players under the control of the counter staff and of course record booths, some self operative and others operated from the counter. I always thought that the ultimate sophistication was the 'Record Browserie', one of which operated with a fair degree of success on the premises of radio and TV dealer Wisehill and Field in my home town of Andover, Hampshire. This was opened in the mid 1950's by none other than the then BBC Showband pianist Bill McGuffie who afterwards entertained patrons of the White Hart Hotel late into the evening with his unique jazz/cocktail style of the time. All kinds of self operative record playing was of course open to mis-use. In Record Browseries you had at your disposal all of the stock and if unobserved you could spend a good long time 'wearing out' your favourites and not being obliged to buy anything. I also know of stories connected with records being bought at smaller stores and, dying to hear one's latest purchase before the journey home they were taken into much larger stores where they could be played in self operated booths without anyone being any the wiser!”

Members of the RFS who live in the area of North-West England served by BBC Radio Cumbria will know that Harry King hosts a regular programme devoted mainly to music from the middle years of the 20th century. For his evening show on bank holiday Monday, 3 May, he invited three Robert Farnon Society members to join him. Alan Bunting explained the mysteries of digital sound restoration, with some fascinating examples of ‘before and after’; Brian Reynolds recalled the glory days of ‘Music While You Work’; and David Ades talked about Robert Farnon and other light music personalities. David’s contribution was recorded at the BBC studios in Taunton on 21 April, but it is hoped that it sounded like he was actually in the Cumbria studio with Harry. There was plenty of light music throughout the show, which could be heard live throughout the world on the internet on the BBC website. The programme was also available via the ‘Listen Again’ facility for seven days after the original broadcast. We hope that many members will have spotted the news in advance on our own website on the ‘Latest News’ page. If you have internet facilities, you should regularly visit www.rfsoc.org.uk to pick up any latest news items.

JOHN FOX : MY MUSICAL WORLD
Published by Eloquent Books (USA) Hardback 375 pages ISBN 978-1-60860-302-2
We know that this autobiography has been a labour of love for John Fox stretching back several years. The fact that it has now been published should be a measure of great satisfaction for him, since it represents a considerable achievement. John has documented the trials and tribulations – as well as the many highs – of being a musician during the 20th century. Not many people have managed to make a career out of music, and it is immeasurably more difficult today since the many broadcasting orchestras around the world have all but disappeared. Once upon a time professional musicians represented a significant number of the workforce, but not any more. As well as being a fascinating study of life as a musician, John has also allowed us into his personal life, and his ‘Wishes’ and ‘Hopes’ towards the end of his book indicate that he is being honest with his readers. Warmly recommended!

British RFS Members Hear One Of Robert Farnon’s Last Works
Members at our 2010 Spring meeting in London were the first outside North America to hear one of the last works composed by Robert Farnon.
In Journal Into Melody 165 (September 2005) Dr. Stanley Saunders, in his article “Robert Farnon – Genius and Humility: A Canadian Perspective”, gave the background details of how the work “American Wind Symphony – The Gaels” was commissioned by Professor Darryl Bott, Assistant Director Of Bands at Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA on behalf of the award-winning Honors Wind Symphony at Roxbury High School, New Jersey..
Dr. Saunders explained: “In several discussions with me about instrumentation, musical clefs, notation and so on regarding this new multi-movement work, Robert was particularly enthusiastic about the use of the Celtic drums that play an important part in the ‘Finale’ of the Wind Symphony. The knowledge that Robert played percussion in the Toronto Symphony Junior Orchestra at the age of twelve, and that he was a drummer in his brother Brian’s band for three years, clearly demonstrated his passion and continued interest in percussion.”
The premiere of this work took place at Roxbury High School on 25 May 2006 with RFS member Dr. Stanley Saunders conducting the Wind Band. It is this performance that RFS members heard on 28 March. The programme notes for the occasion were printed in JIM 170 (December 2006) so need not be reprinted here. However Dr. Saunders has kindly sent us a Review of the premiere, from which you will note that Robert Farnon’s inspiration was the many Scots and Irish who immigrated to the USA, taking their musical heritage with them.

Review
The world premiere of the American Wind Symphony: The Gaels composed by the celebrated composer, Robert Farnon, was presented on the evening of Thursday, May 25, 2006 in the 1500 seat Roxbury High School Auditorium at Succasunna, New Jersey. The composition and the performance received a standing ovation that demanded the final section of the Symphony to be repeated. The Gala Celebration Concert was the culminating event of the weeklong highly successful Artist in Residence biennial programme that is an essential part of the Arts Festival.
American Wind Symphony: The Gaels is dedicated by the composer to Dr. Stanley Saunders, the 2006 Artist in Residence, who conducted the premiere performance. The work is scored for piccolo; Flutes 1 and 2; Oboes 1 and 2; Clarinets 1, 2, and 3; alto clarinet; bass clarinet; bassoons 1 and 2; alto saxophone I and 2; tenor saxophone 1 and 2; baritone saxophone; French horns 1, 2, 3, and 4; Trumpets 1, 2, and 3; trombones I, 2, and 3; euphoniums I, 2, and 3; tubas; string bass; and a percussion section that consists of piano, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, celeste, bells, chimes, wind chimes, tambour, triangle, tambourine, tam-tam, small and large cymbals, snare drum, bass drum, sand block, finger cymbals, and Scottish side drum.
The Roxbury High School Honors Wind Symphony, Roxbury High School, Succasunna, New Jersey, USA, Director, Mr. Todd Nichols, commissioned the work. Professor Darryl Bott, Former Director, who now teaches at Rutgers University, New Jersey, made the arrangements.
The Honors Wind Symphony consisting of fifty-seven chosen instrumentalists has earned an outstanding reputation over the last decade and is regarded as one of the foremost wind ensembles in the United States. The ensemble has been selected as the Grand Champion Winner at Festivals in many States including Virginia, Ohio, Washington, D.C.as well as International Festivals including Toronto, Ontario, Canada—the birthplace of the composer. In addition, the Ensemble has performed at the Avery Fisher Hall at the Lincoln Center, the Carnegie Hall in New York City and other prestigious performing venues.
The opening section of the composition, Introduction, started with a crescendo roll throughout the percussion section, which heralded a spirited and delineated fanfare-like section in the brass based on a phrase from Scotland the Brave. A lyrical, flowing melody followed in the low reed and brass instruments above which a florid woodwind counterpoint was woven that was complimented by percussion colourations. A ‘lento’ section that featured the keyboards and mallet instruments along with solo flute and bassoon, led to the second section, The Warriors. A quiet, solo timpani roll introduced this ‘Allegro’ section with pyramid-like entries in the muted brass in triple metre. This triple-metre passage increased in volume and intensity as other instruments made their entries. This portion of the work subsided both in tempo and in dynamics with a flute solo followed by a keyboard link that transformed the mood from one of tension to a feeling of peace that continued throughout section three, The Lament: Emerald Isle. This moving melody was presented in antiphonal four-bar phrases throughout the wind ensemble. The modulating sequences played by the clarinets and saxophones continued with a quickening of pace. This passage was followed by a sudden change of mood that illumed Farnon’s great skill and ingenuity in orchestration as the high woodwinds floated breezily along while the whole percussion section provided shimmering and scintillating contrapuntal embellishments. The whole ensemble then made a spirited entry with staccato utterances from the low brass and tam tam [gong] leading into section four, Battle Cry. This rousing ‘presto’ section clearly depicted the Warriors as they prepared for action. A soft roll in the percussion followed by a sustained tone in the French horns and low reeds led to section five, The Lassie. During this part of the composition, one could almost see and smell the heather of the Highlands as the solo piccolo quietly played the main theme in brisk fashion accompanied by the captivation rhythm of the Scottish side drum. The work increased in excitement and intensity as other sections of the wind ensemble joined in. Section six, Bluebells, was announced in an unusual 5/4 metre, while the contrasting The Lassie theme continued in the piccolo, flutes, oboe, and keyboards as a dancing filigree counterpoint. The main theme, Bluebells, continued but has now reverted to its more familiar quadruple metre. The Introduction music now reappeared in full dress and section seven, Scotland the Brave, was announced in ‘vivace’ fashion by the trumpet section against an invigorating triplet figure in the high woodwinds, mallet, and keyboard instruments. The dance-like figure made its final, furious appearance at a ‘presto’ tempo and the thrilling build up concluded in stirring fashion with solo timpani and full ensemble presenting a dramatic climax.
Robert Farnon’s seven-part composition, An American Wind Symphony: The Gaels is a perfect symphonic wind ensemble setting that reflects the history of The Gaels both at Roxbury High School and throughout the ages. The composition has programmatic aspects that are reflected in the Celtic melodies upon which the work is based, yet it still retained an overriding sense of formal splendour and majesty.
The performance received an exciting and passionate reading by both conductor and performers that not only brought to life the musical history of the past but also reflected the greatness and the versatility of the genius of the composer, Robert Farnon.
(The author of this review has not been disclosed to us).

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.