02 Jun

Dateline March 2005

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ROBERT FARNON – CURRENT NEWS

We are very pleased to announce that there finally seems to be some positive news regarding the premiere performance of Robert Farnon's Symphony No. 3, which he has dedicated to the City of Edinburgh. Ever since Robert Farnon completed this major work early in 2004, it has been his wish that the first performance should take place in Edinburgh, and it now seems that this will finally be happening this May. Subject to any last-minute changes, we understand that the premiere of this important work will be heard on Saturday 14 May 2005 at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, with the National Symphony Orchestra of Scotland conducted by Iain Sutherland. Unfortunately as this issue went to press we were not able to obtain any precise information about what else will be included in the concert, or how to book tickets and their prices.

James Beyer, conductor of the Edinburgh Light Orchestra, has very kindly offered to pass on up-to-date information in response to enquiries from members who might be wishing to attend the premiere. You can write to James at: 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT, Scotland (please remember to enclose a stamped self-addressed envelope for your reply). James’ telephone number is 0131 334 3140. If you are on the internet, it would be preferable if you could send an e-mail to James at: (be sure to include ‘Robert Farnon Symphony’ in your message title). We will also give any new information we receive in the ‘Latest News’ section of the ‘RFS Information’ page on our website: www.rfsoc.org.uk so please look at it regularly.

Writing in the Edinburgh Evening News on 28 December 2004, Jason Cumming stated that the 17-year-old Scots violinist Nicola Benedetti, the BBC Young Musician of the Year for 2004, was being lined up as guest soloist at the event, although our latest available information is that she will not, after all, be playing. The concert is to be sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, and it is being hailed as one of the biggest artistic and social events in Edinburgh’s calendar of 2005.

¦ Another performance of Robert Farnon’s Edinburgh Symphony is scheduled to take place appropriately in Bob’s homeland, Canada. William Eddins will conduct the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on Sunday 20 November 2005. The concert at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music commences at 2.00pm.

William Eddins is the Music Director of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. He is also the Principal Guest Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and a frequent guest conductor of major orchestras throughout the world. He has served consecutively as Assistant, Associate and Resident Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra over the last ten seasons.

Recent engagements include the New York Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as the symphony orchestras of San Francisco, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New Jersey, Detroit, Dallas, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Houston, San Antonio, Colorado, as well as the Los Angeles, Jacksonville and Tulsa Philharmonics.

Although focusing on his career as a conductor, Mr. Eddins continues his work as a pianist and chamber musician. He regularly conducts from the piano in works by Mozart, Beethoven, Gershwin and Ravel.

In 2000 Mr. Eddins received the Seaver/NEA Conducting Award, a triennial grant of $50,000 awarded to exceptionally gifted young American conductors.

A native of Buffalo, NY, (born in December 1964) Mr. Eddins attended the Eastman School of Music, studying with David Effron and graduating at age eighteen, making him the youngest graduate in the history of the institution. Previous positions include the Associate Conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra and assistant to Daniel Barenboim at the Berlin State Opera. He also studied conducting with Daniel Lewis at the University of Southern California and was a founding member of the New World Symphony in Miami, FL.

■ Robert Farnon’s latest major work is a Bassoon Concerto, which will be premiered in Europe and North America by Daniel Smith. This concerto will feature Daniel on an amplified bassoon backed by a big band incorporated within a full symphony orchestra. Bob completed the work early this year, and he tells us that he is very excited with this project.

The three movement concerto is in a jazz style with symphonic overtones and includes a spectacular finale with an up-tempo blues featuring the bassoon along with a rhythm section. Bob hopes that one of the movements will be suitable for performance on its own, and he has been discussing this with Alan Boyd, producer of BBC Radio-2’s "Friday Night is Music Night". There is a possibility that a broadcast could be fixed by the time this issue is published.

American bassoon virtuoso Daniel Smith has been a musical pioneer in promoting the bassoon as an important and major solo instrument. He is the world's most recorded bassoon soloist, as well as the only one performing and recording in both the classical and jazz fields. Daniel Smith was designated in 2003 as the 'Ambassador for the Bassoon' by the National Foundation for Youth Music in the UK to help promote the instrument with young music students.

His unique career has been profiled in Gramophone, the New York Times, Fanfare, Classical Music, Musical Heritage Review, Music And Musicians, American Record Guide, Classic CD and leading British newspapers including The Times. His solo performances include classical recitals, jazz concerts with his quartet, concertos with orchestra and highly popular programmes divided between classical and jazz, with music that ranges from Vivaldi, Elgar, Mozart and Verdi to Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Described as the ‘Rampal of the bassoon’ and ‘a phenomenon’, he brings his unique sound and style to concert series, festivals and jazz clubs.

His historic and unprecedented recording for ASVof the entire 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos was chosen as ‘Best Concerto Recording Of The Year’ by the Music Industry Association and awarded the Penguin Guide’s coveted *** rosette rating as well as inclusion in Fanfare’s annual ‘Want List’. These concertos, recorded with the English Chamber Orchestra and I Solisti di Zagreb, firmly established Daniel Smith as a leading soloist on his instrument. His recordings with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Caravaggio Ensemble for theSanctuary White Line label produced innovative crossover music, with unique renditions of ragtime pieces, opera excerpts, and popular standards. His recordings include the historic and award winning set of the complete 37 Vivaldi bassoon concertos, jazz with his quartet 'Bassoon and Beyond', crossover and popular albums, and numerous recordings as a concerto and recital soloist with orchestras, ensembles, string quartets, and with piano.

Daniel Smith's concerto performances, recitals and jazz concerts, and especially his highly popular programmes divided between classical and jazz, have received outstanding reviews in the press. He has premiered several new works and presented the first ever solo bassoon concerts at New York's Lincoln Center and Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen. In the world of jazz, Daniel Smith has performed at many festivals, concert series and jazz clubs world-wide. He has also presented the bassoon in concert on several cruise ship lines including Cunard, Seabourn and Royal Viking.

In Britain, the BBC's Radio 3 used one of his recordings as their signature tune for several months to begin their broadcast day. Recent recordings made with his acclaimed jazz quartet ‘Bassoon and Beyond’ - ‘Bebop Bassoon’ and ‘The Swinging Bassoon’ - have brought the bassoon into the world of jazz.

BBC Radio 4 will be presenting a programme featuring Daniel Smith in May. The likely dates are 24th and 28th May, the second being a repeat. No doubt Daniel will be mentioning the new Concerto composed by Robert Farnon.

When we learn some firm details regarding the premiere, the information will be given in the ‘Latest News’ section on our website – and, of course, in our next magazine.

■ By the time this issue reaches you, John Wilson will have been in the studios conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra for a special edition of Brian Kay’s BBC Radio 3 programme – "Brian Kay’s Light Programme". John is selecting many Robert Farnon compositions which have either never been recorded commercially, or else are only on disc in mono versions. One or two special exceptions may be made – for example, John is keen to record How Beautiful Is Night … "because it is such a lovely piece which I admire so much." If there is time, John may also conduct some music by Angela Morley, who is being invited to appear on Brian’s show later this year.

■ A leading record company, which specialises in band music, is keen to record a CD of Robert Farnon’s Military Band compositions. As well as works specially composed by Bob for bands (Un Vie de Matelot specially written for the National Brass Band Championships in 1975 is a good example), the CD may also include band arrangements of some of Bob’s best-known works. We may be able to give you some more information in our next issue.

■ Another project in the ‘pending’ file of a major recording company is the possibility of a CD of Film and Television music composed by Robert Farnon. Like so many new recordings these days, the money has to be found from somewhere, but if this can be sorted out then we could be in for some very special treats. Over the years Bob has composed a great deal of fine music for films which has never been recorded commercially.

■ Two recent CDs from Memoir include recordings made over 50 years ago where Robert Farnon has arranged and conducted 78s featuring leading singers of the day. On "The Great Dance Band Vocalists" (Memoir CDMOIR587) Robert Farnon accompanies Paul Carpenter in Maybe You’ll Be There, and Bob is also the conductor (uncredited) on Getting Nowhere featuring Carole Carr with the Geraldo Orchestra. A Vera Lynn collection – appropriately titled "Yours" - has seven Farnon tracks: You Can’t Be True Dear, My Thanks To You, Heartaches, Put Your Dreams Away, I Don’t See Me In Your Eyes Anymore, You’d Be Hard To Replace and Our Love Story (Memoir CDMOIR588). For more details please see ‘Keeping Track’ in this issue.

■ Thanks to some hard work by Adam Endacott, we should shortly be in a position to rectify a glaring omission on our website – namely a list of Robert Farnon’s compact discs. As you will know, our RF Discography only goes up to 1996, since when many CDs have been released. Details of most of them can be found in various parts of our website (and, of course, in our magazines) but it will be far more helpful and convenient to have them all listed in one place. We are most grateful to Adam, and Malcolm Powell who has also assisted, in getting this work brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

■ Finally this time, we have news of a talented young lady who is following in the Farnon family musical tradition. Nicola Farnon has just released a new CD, which has been highly praised by Robert Farnon. As Nicola says in her publicity: "When your Dad is the first cousin of the highly acclaimed arranger and composer Robert Farnon, you’d hope that some of that talent might brush off on you!"

Originally classically trained on the cello and piano, Nicola did a Performing Arts degree in London, and soon changed musical direction. She acquired a double bass and started learning her trade in the jazz pubs and clubs around London. Now Nicola sings and plays double bass with her own Quintet, which is quickly gaining a fine reputation. She is based in Sheffield, and together with her partner and co-rhythm section member, drummer Phil Johnson, is making a determined effort to get back to (jazz!) business, having recently concentrated more on bringing up her two daughters, Billie and Jodie.

Lately Nicola’s band has appeared at major clubs and festivals, and has become a regular feature at the Isle of Man Jazz Festival, alongside such jazz luminaries as Digby Fairweather, Jim Mullen, Bruce Adams and Alan Barnes. Her quintet includes international stars from Canada (Piero Tucci on piano) and Australia (Nigel McGill on tenor sax) and has supported class jazz acts as diverse as Courtney Pine, Georgie Fame and Acker Bilk.

Nicola originally got in touch with Robert Farnon when she cheekily asked him for a foreword for her first CD "Portrait Of A Farnon". Since then they are regularly in touch, and ‘Uncle Bob’ has overwhelmed Nicola with his warmth , encouragement and continued enthusiasm. Nicola says that he is truly a great inspiration to her, "and is such a lovely Uncle, too!"

Nicola’s influences are not only jazz; in fact she is just as likely to be listening to Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix and Aretha Franklin. But she will always have a soft spot for the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Anita O’Day, Ray Charles and Count Basie. Her quintet performs material that is all her favourite jazzy, bluesy and Latin standards (arranged in her own inimitable fashion) to an ever increasing and enthusiastic fan base. As her esteemed ‘Uncle’, Robert Farnon, states: "what a great choice of songs. What a fine group of musicians … an absolute joy."

Nicola’s new CD is called "THAT’S THE BOTTOM LINE" A Beautiful Friendship, Four Brothers, Don’t Know Why, Teach Me Tonight, Show Me, On The Street Where You Live, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man, Ain’t Necessarily So, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, Time After Time, *Yes It Is, The Way You Look Tonight, *Don’t Know Why, The More I See You (*composed by Nicola, who also did all the arrangements).

This CD costs £10 (including post and packing). Please send a cheque payable to ‘Nicola Farnon’ at: 71 Burcot Road, Sheffield, S8 9FD, England – and mention that you are a member of the RFS.

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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.