THE LATEST TONY BENNETT CHRISTMAS ALBUM
News of the latest repackaged reissue of Tony Bennett Christmas Music did not reach us until the end of November, which was far too late to catch our December issue. This was a pity, because it is an attractive collection, which features some fine tracks that Tony recorded with Robert Farnon.
The following numbers come from that great "Snowfall" LP, first released in 1968: My Favourite Things; The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire); I Love The Winter Weather/I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm; Winter Wonderland; White Christmas
There are also some arrangements that Robert Farnon did for Tony’s Hallmark CD that appeared in 2002. This time the London Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Don Jackson, and a choir was added to Bob’s scores – not entirely to his liking: Deck The Halls; O Little Town of Bethlehem; O Come All Ye Faithful; Silent Night.
Other tracks feature Tony singing arrangements by Bill Holman, Torrie Zito, Jorge Calandrelli, Lee Musiker and a previously unreleased What Child Is This (Greensleeves) arranged by Marion Evans.
The catalogue number is RPM Recordings / Columbia / Legacy 88697 955762. You might like to order a copy now to save for next Christmas, but maybe yet another Tony Bennett collection of reissues may come along later this year?!
It seems that Tony Bennett is never out of the news, and last September he received a lot of publicity for the release of "Tony Bennett: The Complete Collection", issued to commemorate his 85th birthday. It comprises 73 CDs and could cost you around £260 in the UK if you shop wisely! Undoubtedly good value at £3.56 a disc, provided that it doesn’t duplicate too much of your existing collection. The bonus, of course, is the inclusion of everything he has done with Robert Farnon, some of it previously unobtainable on CD.
THE BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA CELEBRATES ITS 60TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2012
BBC Radio 2 is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the famous BBC Concert Orchestra with an 11-part series of "Friday Night Is Music Night". From Friday 20 January until late in March, Ken Bruce is hosting a well-deserved tribute to one of the most famous radio orchestras in the world, broadcast on Radio 2 at 8:00pm.. Hailed as "a worthy instrument" presenting a "brilliant new era of entertainment music", they made their first broadcast on 11 September 1952. But their story began 20 years before, when they were known as the BBC Theatre Orchestra (conductor Leslie Woodgate), whose main role was to provide incidental music for radio plays, but who also gave light music and opera concerts. In 1949 for a few years they were renamed the BBC Opera Orchestra, conducted by Stanford Robinson. The series of eleven programmes features a different archive show each week, with performances from light music giants Sidney Torch, Vilem Tausky, Robert Farnon, Eric Coates and others. There are also performances with famous singers and soloists who have appeared with the orchestra, and interviews with players and conductors. Today the BBC Concert Orchestra is widely praised for its regular broadcasts on radio (both Radio 2 and Radio 3), its appearances at prestigious events such as the BBC Promenade Concerts, and its continually growing number of superb compact discs.
Once again Edinburgh’s music lovers will soon be treated to some of the finest light music, courtesy of RFS member James Beyer, conductor of the Edinburgh Light Orchestra. The next Concert will be on Saturday 26th May 2012 at the usual venue - The Queen's Hall, commencing at 7:30. The booking office opens on 26 March – Queen’s Hall booking hotline 0131 668 2019; bookings direct from Edinburgh Light Orchestra 0131 334 3140. Ticket prices range from £9.50 to only £6.00 – an absolute bargain these days! More on the orchestra’s website: www.edinburghlight orchestra.moonfruit.com. Guest soloist will be the Baritone Bruce Graham who is an old friend of James. Bruce was born and educated in Edinburgh and played in many local amateur productions before beginning his professional career in 1978. He joined the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company with whom he played many of the Gilbert and Sullivan character roles. Since his spell with the D’Oyly Carte, Bruce has appeared in a number of shows in London’s West End, such as ‘Me and My Girl’ and ‘Cats’. Other aspects of Bruce’s work have ranged from film and television to Old Time Music Hall and pantomime; and he has appeared all over the world as a principal with the Carl Rosa Opera Company.
Tony Bennett was interviewed by Aidin Vaziri for the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday 11 December 2011. We repeat below one of the questions, and Tony’s reply:
Q: Barring the present moment, do you have a favorite Tony Bennett era?
A: Wow, that is a tough question. I loved the time I lived in London in the '70s, as I got to work with the master Robert Farnon.
Our thanks to Forrest Patten for sending this to JIM.
Colin Berry did Light Music fans proud on his BBC Three Counties Radio shows over the Christmas period. He made good use of the Guild ‘Christmas Celebration’ CD. On Christmas Eve his listeners heard Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (Boston Pops), It Came Upon The Midnight Clear (Billy Vaughn), Christmas Alphabet (George Melachrino) and Nazareth (Mantovani). For his Christmas Day show Colin selected Christmas Sleigh Bells (Angela Morley) and Sleigh Ride (Boston Pops).
Last Christmas we didn’t get another TV show from the John Wilson Orchestra like "Swingin’ Christmas" in 2010, but we did enjoy a repeat of the "Hooray for Hollywood" Prom and a semi-documentary about great Hollywood dancers that included some fascinating glimpses of John recording the music in the famous Studio 2 at Abbey Road. The subject of the 90-minute programme (first shown on BBC 2, then repeated a few days later on BBC Four immediately before John’s Prom) was the famous ballerina Darcey Bussell who stepped into the shoes of her Hollywood heroes to celebrate the enduring legacy of classic dance musicals. To quote from the BBC’s own publicity: "In the age of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Streetdance 3D’, Darcey, one of Britain's greatest living dancers and Hollywood musical superfan, discovers that the key to understanding where this dance-mad culture comes from lies in classic movie musicals. She takes famous dance routines from her favourite Hollywood musicals and reveals how they cast their spell, paying tribute to the legends of the art form and discovering the legacy they left. Darcey pays homage to Fred Astaire in an interpretation of Puttin' on the Ritz; plays Ginger Rogers in a rendition of Cheek to Cheek; pays tribute to the exuberant Good Morning from ‘Singin' in the Rain’; and stars in a new routine inspired by Girl Hunt Ballet from ‘The Band Wagon’. Darcey works with leading choreographer Kim Gavin and expert conductor John Wilson, who has painstakingly reconstructed the original scores, as she discovers how dance in the movies reached a pinnacle of perfection and reveals how the legacy of the golden age lives on."
Readers with internet access will know that there are many interesting sites out there at the click of a mouse. Nigel Burlinson has recently discovered that the 1945 film "I Live In Grosvenor Square" is available to watch at http://goo.gl/cnhhu. (Alternatively just visit YouTube and type in the title of the film). This was the film that featured Robert Farnon and the Canadian Band of the AEF, and it could be said to have firmly launched his working partnership with Anna Neagle and Herbert Wilcox. Only a few years later this produced "Spring In Park Lane", one of the most successful British movies of the last century.
Brian Reynolds has advised us of some interesting concerts during the next few months:
BBC Elstree Concert Band - Sunday 3rd April at 3.00pm Maida Vale (Studio 1) in a programme of music that would have been broadcast from the Maida Vale studios during their halcyon years.
Alassio Concert Orchestra - Sunday 10th. April 2.45pm at Worthing Assembly Hall. A programme entitled 'The Soul of Spain'. Programme to include Moskowski's Spanish Dances, Amporita Roca (Texidor), Tango in D (Albeniz), Le Cid ballet music (Massenet) Prelude to Act 1 Carmen (Bizet) and Espana (Chabrier)
Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra - Monday 30th May 2011 at 2.30 pm. Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, London, N6
Top film composer John Barry died on 30 January following a heart attack. A full tribute to this outstanding composer and arranger will be included in our June magazine.
BBC Television is currently working on a documentary for BBC Four about the musicians and sound engineers involved in quality easy listening music from the 1960s onwards. We understand thatRobert Farnon will be featured in the programme, which is provisionally titled "Music For Pleasure".
EMI is now 100% owned by its bankers, Citigroup, having been unable to pay its debts.
Philip Farlow was present at Malcolm Laycock’s funeral on 19 November last, and he reports that there were certainly more than 130 people in attendance with standing room only. The service, lasting over 30 minutes was based on Humanist choices. Malcolm's sons Andrew (actor) and Dominic (teacher) conducted the service in a very professional, organised and yet equally compassionate way. The attendees entered to 'Cherokee' by the Syd Lawrence band. Andrew and Dominic's joint linking narrative presented firstly Dave Gelly followed by Chris Dean and then Malcolm's best buddy from College and 'best man' days at one another's Weddings. Like Dave and Chris he played a very important and personally reminiscent role in the proceedings. As we departed from the Crematorium Count Basie's 'Splanky' was played "...nice and loud please!" commented Andrew. The wake was held at the Park Tavern in Eltham and also reflected Malcolm's very wide ranging popularity; people from all walks of the entertainment profession to simply fans gathered in his name to help celebrate what he meant to them.
Fans of the BBC Midland Light Orchestra will be pleased to hear that the National Sound Archive at the British Library in London has obtained some more rare recordings. Featuring popular singer Barry Kent with guest artistes including singers Lita Roza, India Adams, Cheryl Kennedy, Elizabeth Larner and Roy Edwards, plus virtuoso instrumentalists Pearl Fawcett (accordion) and The Two Pianos of Christine & Sandy Blair, this popular 14-week show was broadcast on BBC Radio Two from Birmingham in 1970. The orchestra led by William Hand was conducted by Harold Rich. The producer was Ron Gardner.
‘Jumping Bean’ has heard a rumour that the BBC received 100,000 e-mail messages praising John Wilson’s MGM Prom last August. No doubt they would hate such a fact to become common knowledge, because we are always being told by them that listeners don’t like this kind of music – which is why they do their best to keep it off all their radio stations!
We are delighted to report that James Beyer’s return to the podium conducting the Edinburgh Light Orchestra last November resulted in a full house in the 800+ capacity Queen’s Hall. James tells us that he was pleased to see some younger faces in the audience, and one of the youngest was a 10-year old who insisted upon being added to the mailing list! The programme included a Tribute to Angela Morley, as well as pieces by Robert Farnon, Richard Rodgers, John Williams, Eric Coates, Haydn Wood and Henry Mancini. The next concert is only two months away, on Saturday 22 May, as usual at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. Telephone contact: 0131 334 3140.
It seems that since he discovered RFS member Frank Comstock a couple of years ago, US bandleader Brian Setzer just won’t let the 87 year-old rest and enjoy his well-deserved retirement! The album "Wolfgang’s Night Out" caused quite a stir in 2007, and the same could happen for Setzer’s latest release "Songs From Lonely Avenue" inspired by his love for 1940s film noir. Frank has been assisting with horn charts on nine tracks, giving the CD its swinging old-school vibe. Brian wants Frank to write just as he did over fifty years ago when he was working with the top stars including, of course, the one and only Doris Day. Frank also wrote arrangements for Benny Carter, Stan Kenton, Les Brown, and Judy Garland, penned the theme songs for Rocky & Bullwinkle, Adam 12, and Dragnet, and recorded the cult classic ‘Music From Outer Space’.
Gavin Sutherland conducted the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in a "Ron Goodwin Gala Concert" at the Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth on Saturday 30 January. Unfortunately we were advised of this less than a month before the event, which means that we could not advise RFS members in our last magazine. Sadly our frequently-repeated request that concert promoters should advise us well in advance is still failing to get through to many. However one forthcoming Bournemouth concert that will delight its audience is the Mantovani Spectacular on April 18th – see page xx of this issue.
Brian Travers recently left the following message on our website: "My father Gerry Travers was one of the lead vocalists of the Canadian Band of the AEF, with Paul Carpenter, and Joanne Dallas. He always spoke so highly of Bob Farnon as a musical genius, and they still kept in touch until my father passed away in 2003. It is nice to read this biography (on the RFS website) of Bob Farnon to get a more detailed insight of his musical career. I still have my father’s original live BBC recordings of the Canada Show broadcasts. They are wax covered metal LP size records, that play at 78 speed from the label out to the edge. In 2000 Cowtown Publications released on CDs these WW2 Canadian Band of the AEF recordings, as well as others they had found."
It is gratifying to know that, despite the indifference of many concert promoters and a certain national broadcasting organisation, there are still a lot of people who like to perform light orchestral music. If you are also a member of the Light Music Society you will know that they advertise forthcoming concerts by amateur ensembles, and David Mardon attended a concert by his local Hale Light Orchestra last July. Appropriately called "Light Music for a Summer’s Evening" the ambitious programme began with the march Light of Foot by C. Lattan, followed by Robert Farnon’s Jumping Bean. Other highlights included music from the film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ (Klaus Badelt); Bows and Bells (Sydney del Monte) – frequently heard half a century ago on the radio, but sadly never recorded; Demoiselle Chic (Percy Fletcher); London Suite – complete (Eric Coates); Dodman Rock(John Holliday); Tabarinage (Robert Docker); and Francis Chagrin’s Beggar’s Theme from the film ‘Last Holiday’. Other composers featured included Lerner and Loewe, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Sir Henry Wood and Sir Edward Elgar. The Hale Light Orchestra’s conductor is Alan Nuttall and the leader is Andy Bate. You can find out more about them via their website: www.halelightorchestra.com
Several members have asked us why contributions from Reuben Musiker in South Africa have been missing from recent issues. Reuben’s strong loyalty to the RFS goes right back to the 1950s, and his encyclopaedic knowledge of light music has been of great benefit to us all. We are sorry to report that Reuben suffered a series of health problems last year, which were so serious that he was in intensive care for a while. On top of this, he downsized from the home where he had lived for 38 years, and with his wife Naomi he now lives in a one bedroom apartment in a retirement village. This forced him to give away his precious collections of books and records, so it is hardly surprising that he has been suffering from depression as a result. However he retains his interest in the RFS and I know that his many friends in the society will share our hope that he soon gets a lot better. When he was taken ill a year ago he had almost finished his second music book ("With A Song In My Heart") and he is now hoping to complete it this year. Obviously the contact address given in previous magazines no longer applies, but he still has the same email:
Last October BBC Four screened a series of programmes with a railway theme, and from subsequent feedback we know that many RFS members in Britain found them most enjoyable. Prompted by the 40th anniversary of the fateful ‘Beeching Report’ which forced the closure of around one-third on the railway network, the programmes were rich in nostalgia – especially to steam enthusiasts. British Transport Films were featured on 23 October (with later repeats) and members who regularly attend our London meetings will have spotted Alan Willmott towards the end of the programme. Alan was with BTF for over 30 years, and he has presented selections of their vast film library (over 700 titles) at RFS meetings. Much of their appeal to us lies in the orchestral scores that were commissioned from leading composers. Sadly the programme did not mention this important aspect, but maybe this was due to only 40 minutes being allocated to what is a vast subject. Alan tells us that his part of the programme was filmed at the National Railway Museum last July, and it would be nice to think that – one day – another producer will give us a more satisfying study (perhaps lasting around two hours) of the work of the BTF. But as a taster Alan’s programme was most welcome and enjoyable, and several BTF films were screened in their original form while the ‘railway season’ was running.
As we mentioned briefly in our last issue, Brian Reynolds has been providing a lot of interesting information about broadcasting orchestras for the Whirligig internet site – www.whirligig-tv.co.uk.. This started as long ago as 1999 by Terry Guntripp, who tells us that he had virtually stopped adding new information to his site because the supply of fresh material had virtually dried up – until Brian Reynolds took an interest! Details of vintage themes available on Guild ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ CDs have also been featured on a new page in the radio section – click on ‘Radio Days’ in the left hand column, and then ‘Audio Sources’ in the strip at the top of the new page. Because he has so much new material to add about broadcasting orchestras, Brian Reynolds has now been given his own website ‘Masters of Melody’: www.mastersofmelody.co.uk.
The following report dated 13 October 2008 comes from The Canadian Press, Toronto: Tony Bennett says it was the genius of the late Toronto-born composer Robert Farnon that led to his long break from producing Christmas albums. Bennett's new record "A Swingin' Christmas", being released this week, is just his second holiday album. The first was 1968's "Snowfall: The Tony Bennett Christmas Album", and the iconic crooner says the 40-year gap is a result of Farnon's superb orchestrations on that disc. 'When I did ("Snowfall") it was such a work of art, as far as I was concerned, that when Columbia/Sony ... would say to me every year, 'You've got to do a Christmas album because that's our season to really sell an album,' I said, 'No, no ... that's the album,' you know, it was very complete,' Bennett, 82, said in a recent interview. He explained that Farnon was widely revered in music circles and nicknamed 'The Governor' by Frank Sinatra. Bennett changed his mind about doing a second festive album earlier this year after his son/manager, Danny, proposed doing one that 'isn't as serious or religious as the first "Snowfall" album.' 'He said, 'Just a swingin' album, let's do one for parties ... it's such a festive time of the year. Just do an album that just has a good beat to it,'' Bennett said in his raspy New York accent, dressed to the nines in a slick, navy-blue pinstripe suit. "A Swingin' Christmas", recorded onstage at the Bergen Performing Arts Center in New Jersey, comprises old favourites including Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, I'll Be Home for Christmasand Winter Wonderland. The album reunites Bennett with the Count Basie Orchestra, with whom he performed in the 1950s. Some of the orchestra members are the same ones Bennett recorded with back in the day, he said. 'I was the first white singer that ever sang (with them), when it was shocking to have a white artist with a black band,' said the balladeer, who has won 15 Grammy Awards. 'It was great, it worked right away, there wasn't any problem at all but the corporations always questioned it because the black music never really sold down south in bigoted areas of the States and they would discourage it. They wouldn't promote it because of sales.'
On 29 October 2008 BBC Radio-3’s "Performance on 3" featured a concert of light music from the Colosseum in Watford. The BBC Concert Orchestra was conducted by Gavin Sutherland and they were certainly on top form. The varied programme included both modern and ‘classic’ pieces of light music, confirming that today’s composers are still attracted to the genre. Highlight for many people will have been the inclusion of Haydn Wood’s Violin Concerto brilliantly performed by Tasmin Little. The concert featured the following works: Joie de Vivre (David Lyon), Lakeside Idyll (Ernest Tomlinson), Violin Concerto (Haydn Wood), London Salute (Philip Lane), Kaleidoscope (Peter Hope),Summer Afternoon (Eric Coates), In The Moonlight (Albert Ketèlbey), The Night Has Eyes (Charles Williams), Jubilee Dances (Paul Patterson) – plus an encore Knightsbridge (Eric Coates). It was good to hear Gavin Sutherland interviewed during the concert and, although this was a radio concert, you were able to view it afterwards, on the BBC iPlayer for seven days via your computer … let’s hope the idea catches on! Unfortunately we were not advised of the concert until after our September magazine had gone to press, but we did include details in the Latest News section of our website, so we hope that some RFS members will have been alerted.
Filmharmonic 2009 takes place at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Friday 8 May commencing at 7:30pm. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be conducted by Paul Bateman, and the concert includes music from Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Superman and Jurassic Park. There will also be a special tribute to great TV Themes Dallas, Dynasty, Cagney and Lacey and L.A. Law. Tickets £50 - £10. Telephone bookings on 020 7589 8212; online bookings: www.royalalberthall.com.
ROBERT FARNON BASSOON CONCERTO
World premiere Sept. 13, 2009
Legendary arranger/composer Robert Farnon dedicated his final composition of a jazz-oriented bassoon concerto to Daniel Smith.
Titled ‘Romancing the Phoenix’, this ground-breaking concerto, with improvisation included throughout the three movements, calls for enlarged wind sections as well as a jazz rhythm section on stage alongside the orchestra.
The World premiere will take place Sept. 13, 2009 at the Forum Theatre in Malvern, England, with the Chandos Symphony Orchestra, Michael Lloyd conducing. Warner Chappell has published the score and parts with Robert Farnon’s dedication to Daniel Smith on the title page.
The note in our last issue (page 74) about the last time Tony Bennett and Robert Farnon were together in the recording studios prompted calls from Fred Wadsworth and Mark Fox. Christmas in Herald Square was included as a final ‘hidden’ track on the Bennett CD "The Playground" – US Columbia CK69380. Sixteen tracks (mainly to appeal to children) were listed on the album, but when you continued playing the CD at the end a seventeenth track appeared. This was a gimmick used on a number of CDs released around this time – the late 1990s. Maybe readers are aware of other examples?
There are now many internet sites which could be of interest to readers, and one recently brought to our attention is that operated by the British music magazine Gramophone. It now contains a massive amount of information, including reviews going back decades, and those of you with access to the internet should take a look at: www.gramophone.net One word of warning: once you start surfing this site you won’t want to stop!
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have taken over the management of the BBC Big Band. The connection here is that the RPO's MD, Ian Maclay, was formerly General Manager of the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Big Band. Hopefully this will do nothing but good in ensuring the survival of the Big Band, which currently only gets 25 minutes a week on Radio 2 plus the odd Radio 3 broadcast. It should get more outside concerts for a start.
Anne Shelton’s niece, Kelly Richards, is promoting a special concert on the 15th year (to the day) of her death on Friday 31 July. It is in aid of Anne’s favourite charity, the Not Forgotten Association, and will take place at The Winter Garden Theatre, Eastbourne, commencing at 7:30pm. Tickets cost £15 - £17; box office telephone 01323 412000. The New Squadronaires will be performing many wartime favourites, and they will be accompanying many singers who are adding their support.
The newly-formed Eric Coates Society (appropriately launched in the composer’s birthplace) is now up and running, and we wish it every success. Many people regard Coates as the finest English composer of Light Music during the first half of the last century, and this tribute to his memory is long overdue. In the Robert Farnon Society we will continue to keep our members aware of his great achievements, and all new recordings of his music will be publicised. Many of our loyal members also belong to other music societies, and we are sure that some of you will also want to be associated with the efforts being made to keep the music of Eric Coates alive in the 21st century. The person to contact is the Secretary, Peter Butler, 47 Farleys Lane, Hucknall, Nottingham, NG15 6DT, England. The subscription is £10 and cheques should be payable to ‘The Eric Coates Society’.
RETROSPECTIVE RISES FROM THE ASHES OF LIVING ERA
When Sanctuary Group was taken over by Universal in 2007 the Living Era label was a casualty. Under Ray Crick’s guidance it had become one of the UK’s leading nostalgia catalogues, and by carefully choosing the repertoire it had also achieved success in the USA. Some of the artists were little known in Europe, but their popularity in the USA ensured healthy sales. Ray also commissioned several collections of light music, including Robert Farnon, David Rose, Sidney Torch, George Melachrino, Peter Yorke, Percy Faith and Louis Levy.
After various new projects failed to materialise, Ray Crick launched the Retrospective label last October. Some of the best Living Era collections have been reprogrammed and subjected to fresh digital restoration by Alan Bunting, and the result is an exciting series that is quickly gaining a reputation for quality. Peter Dempsey (who compiled many collections and wrote numerous sleeve notes for Living Era) is also on board, and the initial releases included 2 CD sets by George Formby, Fred Astaire, Humphrey Lyttelton, Nat King Cole, Paul Robeson and Tony Martin, and single discs by Alma Cogan, André Previn, Eartha Kitt, Louis Armstrong, Perez Prado and Sammy Davis Jr. From January plans are for the label to release ten discs per month covering both Nostalgia and Vintage Jazz.
Ray Crick says: "I am delighted to be involved with RETROSPECTIVE because it gives me the chance to create CD programmes that will bring alive the finest recordings by those wonderful vintage entertainers of yesteryear, both popular and jazz, for people to enjoy here and now. The first 25 sets out our stall, with music stretching from the music hall to jugbands to rock ‘n’ roll! We anticipate that the entire project will total more than 400 releases, each with a smart series design, making for a highly collectable range."
RETROSPECTIVE is a joint venture between Wyastone Estate Limited and Retrospective Recordings Limited. All sets will be manufactured in the UK and the USA using the Nimbus disc and print 'on demand' production services and distributed world-wide by Wyastone Estate Limited. The in-house production facility ensures that titles are never overstocked or out of stock and that they can respond immediately to market demand. Website: www.retrospective-records.co.uk
The next concert by The Edinburgh Light Orchestra conducted by James Beyer will take place on Saturday 24 May in the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh. For more information telephone 0131 334 3140.
Plans are still progressing for the premiere performance of Robert Farnon’s Bassoon Concerto.Daniel Smith tells us that he now hopes that this will take place in the spring of 2009, and we will naturally keep RFS members informed of developments.
Kym Bonython writes from his home in Adelaide to send warmest regards to his RFS friends, and say that he has started to write a sequel to his 1979 autobiography "Ladies Legs and Lemonade". His friend Barry Humphries suggested that it should be called "In ever decreasing circles…" probably alluding to the fact that Kym (born in 1920) has been forced to give up riding his beloved Agusta motor cycle. It has been sold to the Headmistress of a girls’ school in Britain! From being a highly decorated pilot in World War 2, Kym became one of the greatest jazz promoters in Australia, and he has also been an important patron of Australian art.
The inclusion of the BBC recordings of "Oranges and Lemons" on the Guild ‘Musical Kaleidoscope Volume 1’ collection prompted our good friend Frank Hare to remind us that using this piece to introduce the day’s broadcasting on the Light programme was following an established tradition. This traditional melody was also a ‘call sign’ for the BBC Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme, which commenced broadcasting on 7 June 1944 - one day after D-day. It then consisted of about 12 seconds of the tune repeated over and over again, with a short break between each, and played in single notes by the famous organist Charles Smart on a Novachord with a sustain. This can be heard at the start of the RFS CD featuring Captain Robert Farnon and the Canadian Band of the Allied Expeditionary Forces – still available from us for £6 (which includes p&p).
From Volker Rippe who discovered it in a German calendar for people learning English: Why is ‘our kind of music’ banned from radio and television? Too much sax and violins! (Say it out loud to yourself a few times and you’ll get the joke!)
Our thanks to Ann Adams who has sent us some nice colour photos taken at her Kensington Gardens Concert last summer. This time our colour reproductions had to be reserved for last November’s London meeting, but we hope to let you see Ann’s Ladies Palm Court Orchestra in the next issue.
Debbie Wiseman will be conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of her Favourite Film and TV Moments at London’s Cadogan Hall on Sunday 30 March. Telephone bookings: 020 7730 4500.
Mort Garson (born 20 July 1924), the composer of the popular song "Our Day Will Come" died in San Francisco on 4 January 2008. During a long and successful career he worked with the likes of Doris Day and Mel Torme.
Thanks to the efforts of David O’Rourke, Robert Farnon’s How Beautiful Is Night was performed in a concert at New York’s Lincoln Center last November. James Beyer is planning to include the vocal version in his Edinburgh Light Orchestra’s concert on 26 May at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (for more details telephone 0131 334 3140).
The following text is taken from Warren Vache’s website, and dates from around April 2005: This has been a terrible month for trumpet players. We have lost such lights as Tutti Cammerata, Robert Farnon, Benny Bailey, Kenny Schermerhorn, and Danny Moore. Alison Kerr of the Glasgow Herald asked me to say a few words for an obit on Robert Farnon she will be doing, and the process of writing re-awoke all the awe and inspiration Mr. Farnon’s writing never failed to instil in me. He had accepted a commission to write one arrangement for me and the Scottish Ensemble for our recording this July (2005), and was not able to complete it. I thought I would include my thoughts here. Robert Farnon was simply one of the most musical, creative, and intelligent arrangers and composers to have graced the world. He was and will remain the apex of that genre, and an inspiration to anyone with the drive to write for orchestral settings. The more you look into his work, the more there is to see and hear. And with all that skill and intelligence, there is always a feeling and a beauty that is absolutely gut wrenching. He was a tone painter like no other. I remember doing a concert with The New York Pops, and sitting in the soloists section in the middle of the orchestra. Now, there are few sounds in the world as exciting for me as a full orchestra, and the sound of a live orchestra is an experience that cannot be reproduced by any recording equipment. Well, they began to play a Farnon setting of Harold Arlen’s ‘What’s Good About Goodbye?" It began with an oboe solo over a lush and surprising string background, full of wonderful, and unusual voiceings, and a very creative harmonic treatment. The oboe was a lone voice in a wonderland, and I wanted to be in that wonderland. As if that weren’t enough, at the bridge, the colour changed to four horns! It was such a dramatic and startling change, as if the sound of the horns rose from under all those strings to take the beauty to a higher level. Imagine the light changing on some far off mountain. I was a puddle of tears it was so moving. It is a gift indeed to live in this veil of tears and be able to see through all the pain and dirt to the beauty Farnon envisioned. The world will not see his like again, and for me, a great source of inspiration and a window to the beautiful has been closed. Hearing a Farnon setting was like love without the heartbreak, and it doesn’t ever get better than that. We are grateful to Malcolm Frazer for discovering this for ‘Journal Into Melody’. Paul Clatworthy reviews Warren’s CD in ‘Keeping Track’.
David Mardon has written to point out that Haydn Wood’s Soliloquy played by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon was not in the Chappell Recorded Music Library, but only on a Decca 78 (F 9265) and 10" LP (LM 4508). David also explains that the Radio Four Theme was initially recorded by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Speigel (part composer), and there was an agreement with the Musicians’ Union that it was to be re-recorded every five years. As the ‘Northern’ is now the BBC Philharmonic, the last version was under Rumon Gamba.
Tony Foster tells us that the Daily Mail (Saturday 2 December) gave away a free DVD of the film "The Slipper and the Rose". As JIM readers will know, Angela Morley was the Musical Director on this film, and she worked wonders with her arrangements of the Sherman Brothers’ songs, as well as adding her own incidental music.
One of our USA members, Jesse Knight, has written an interesting article on Light Music for a website. If you have access to the internet, you are strongly urged to visit the Aristos site atwww.aristos.org and click on to Jesse’s article which is appropriately called "The Joys of Light Music".
Peter Burt asks us to correct a mistake which crept into his "Back Tracks" article in our last issue. He says: "it must have been the Little People and not gremlins that caused me to write that Vincent Youmans was Dublin born. It was, of course, New York. So not Vincent O’Youmans after all!"
The Secretary recently provided the National Theatre in London with a recording of Robert Farnon’sOpenings and Endings – the music which introduced "Panorama" when it first appeared on BBC Television back in the 1950s. It will be used in the play "The Reporter" by Nicholas Wright which went into rehearsal in January. The National Theatre had been unable to find a recording, and contacted us through our website. Readers may remember that this music was included on the Conifer 2-CD compilation of Robert Farnon’s compositions released in 1996 and long deleted.
On Tuesday 17 October the Coda Club honoured Angela Morley with their Burt Rhodes Award for lifetime achievement in music. Unfortunately Angela was not well enough to travel from her home in the USA to London to receive the award personally, so it was accepted on her behalf by John Wilson. As readers will know, John has recorded a number of Angela’s compositions and arrangements for Vocalion in recent years, and he said that he felt honoured to receive the award on her behalf.
■ Mrs. Judith Walsh, the daughter of Robert Farnon and his former wife Joanne, wrote recently to tell us about her son Thomas who seems to be following in the family’s musical tradition. Tom was 14 last June, and during the summer holidays he was busking on Colchester High Street every Friday afternoon playing jazz trumpet. On one of those occasions, Thomas was playing outside the George Hotel, and he was heard by a jazz double bassist who happened to be a committee member of the Association of British Jazz Musicians (ABJM). The man was Eddie Johnson, who was visiting from Southend to enjoy an anniversary dinner with his wife. While in their hotel room, Eddie happened to hear Thomas playing on the street below. He went down to have a good listen, and contacted Bill Ashton (director of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra) to recommend Thomas. So now Thomas is in his element, playing at NYJO rehearsals every Saturday morning, along with his trumpet and flugelhorn. He has joined the Musicians’ Union, using the name Tom Farnon-Walsh in honour of his famous grandfather and their shared love of the trumpet!
■ RFS member Brian Luck presented a Tribute to Robert Farnon at Hornchurch Library last November.
■ James Beyer continues to spoil the good people of Scotland’s capital city with excellent concerts performed by his Edinburgh Light Orchestra. Last November he included a tribute to Robert Farnonwith Derby Day, The Westminster Waltz and Portrait Of A Flirt. The concert programmes for these events are always a mine of information about the music and the composers. The next concert will be on 27 May, and details are available from James Beyer, 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
■ RFS member Mike Carey hosts a popular weekly radio show on BBC Radio Derby, at 4.00pm every Sunday afternoon. "Memorable Melodies" can now be heard throughout the world via the nternet: www.bbc.co.uk/derby. The show includes light music, big bands, great vocalists and soundtracks from Hollywood, Broadway and West End musicals. Mike would be delighted to hear from fellow RFS members and play their requests (if possible!). He was one of several RFS members featured in last year’s BBC Four documentary "Music for Everybody".
■ RFS member Alan Willmott has recently produced a new film for his Windjammer Films company. Entitled "Along The Curved And Narrow", it tells the story of the progress of the privately operated steam hauled narrow-gauge passenger carrying railways around the British Isles. Eight of the eleven railways featured are situated in Wales, and can trace their origins to mining areas and quarries. Alan tells us that a DVD release is possible later in the year, and we will naturally let you have details if this happens.
■ Towards the end of last year Ray Purslow was concerned to learn that a rumour was circulating saying that his Record Store in Birmingham was closing down. Ray assures us that this is not true - in fact he has recently signed a new three-year lease. Ray is now one of the few retailers still offering expert advice and a first-class service to regular clients.
■ Our Canadian representative Pip Wedge usually covers local concerts in his regular column, but we would like to add our own congratulations to Charles Job and his Palm Court Orchestra following a splendid concert last September/October. The guest conductor was another Canadian RFS memberMarc Fortier, who waved the baton for some of his own compositions, as well as works by the likes of Haydn Wood, Clive Richardson, Eric Coates and Leroy Anderson. Robert Farnon was represented with A La Claire Fontaine. As a local paper reviewer reported: ‘Marc Fortier certainly kept the orchestra on their toes all evening, in the process evincing some of the finest playing I’ve yet heard from them – lush and full-bodied, with every instrument making its presence felt and ensemble as tight as one could wish.’
■ The winter issue of Classic Record Collector mentioned the Leslie Jones recordings of Robert Farnon’s music in a long article. An accompanying photo showed Leslie and his son holding a copy of the Farnon LP. [Thanks to Nigel Burlinson for this information].
■ In April Taragon Records will be issuing a 2 on 1 CD containing the two extremely rare albums originally made for the Japanese market KOGA MELODIES and RYOICHI HATTORI MELODIES. The original LPs were never issued in America although KOGA MELODIES had a limited release in Europe from CBS Holland. At the same time Taragon will issue the only other Faith album not already available on CD - FOOTBALL SONGS (also known as TOUCHDOWN!) Alan Bunting has been a driving force behind these reissues.
■ Around the time that you receive this issue, a new Dutton Vocalion CD will be released featuring the music of Anthony Collins. Among many rarities on this must-have CD are Festival Royal Overture, Symphony for Strings, Louis XV Silhouettes and film scores such as Victoria the Great, Odette and The Lady with a Lamp. Naturally Collins’ most famous piece Vanity Fair is also on the list. The sessions took place at Watford last September, with John Wilson conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra (Vocalion CDLX7162). Other releases in the same batch feature a cycle of music byRichard Arnell (CDLX7161) and the Lochrian Ensemble performing the romantic String Quartets of Edgar Bainton and Hubert Clifford (CDLX7164). Details of a further selection of Easy Listening CDs for release this March were not available as we went to press, but no doubt we will have a lot of good news for you in June!
■ Gary Williams was in the Abbey Road studios from 6-9th February recording his latest CD "In the Lounge with Gary Williams".
Alan Bunting has reported that he is investigating a claim that some of his restorations of Percy Faith recordings, currently available on Living Era's DELICADO 2CD set, and in which he holds the copyright, may have appeared on another label without his or Living Era's permission.
Glenn Adams likes the music of Albert Sandler, and wonders if many of his recordings have been reissued on CDs. He is aware of two, as he explains: "I have two and you may be interested in them for other members of the society. They are both excellent, one is "Albert Sandler with The Palm Court Orchestra and his Trio" It's on the Music and Memories label No MMD 1058 PO Box 99, St Austell, Cornwall, PL25 3YD. The other one I have is "Albert Sandler & His Orchestra at the Park Lane Hotel, London" with Jack Byfield, piano and Reginald Kilbey, Cello. This one is on the Pearl 'Flapper' label from Pavilion Records Ltd, Sparrows Green, Wadhurst, East Sussex,England. It is excellent and has some lovely old recordings, one of my favourites being "With you" a fox-trot with a vocal solo by a lady called Marjorie Stedeford who had a really lovely voice."
The long running legal disagreement between EMI and Naxos in the USA has been settled, according to a report in the March issue of ‘The Gramophone’. The result is that a large number of Naxos CDs will no longer be available in the USA. The losers are going to be music lovers, and it is a warning to us all about what will happen if the present 50-year copyright on sound recordings in the UK is extended.
■ The Sidney Torch feature in the centre of this issue is thanks to Lew Williams, who has great admiration for Torch as a cinema organist before World War II. Lew also has plenty of admirers himself: as our member Robin King tells us, "Lew is a superb, very much respected musician. He is one of the world’s finest organists – both classical and theatre – equally well-known in UK organ circles as in the USA. He is resident organist at Organ Stop, Mesa, Arizona (a suburb of Phoenix) which has the world’s largest Wurlitzer housed in a public place … 5 manuals and 77 ranks. Awesome! There is more information (and some audio samples) at www.organstoppizza.com "
The March issue of The Gramophone included a full page article on Light Music by Andrew Lamb.Guild and Vocalion CDs were specifically mentioned.
A major light orchestral hardback biography is on its way, hopefully out in time for the centenary of Mantovani's birth on 15 November next. "Mantovani – A Lifetime In Music" tells of Mantovani's relentless quest for perfection in a musical career that lasted over 50 years. Written by Colin MacKenzie and to be published by Melrose Books, it follows the maestro's musical career in detail, from his early days as an aspiring classical musician, his dance band days of the 1930s, his activities as a musical director in the theatre and his successes in America and worldwide in the 1950s and up until his retirement in 1975. The author has had unique access to the Mantovani family, his record producers, arrangers, musicians and fans from various parts of the globe to provide a very detailed portrait of his life and times. It's the "full Monty", of interest to Mantovani fans everywhere, but also to anyone interested in light orchestral music and the history of popular music in the 20th century. More details as and when we have them.
Derek Boulton tells us an amusing story from Russia. In last September’s JIM we told you about the Russian singer Willi Tokarev, who is infatuated with the music of Robert Farnon. Willi lives in a block of flats in Moscow, which has been renovated from former army barracks. The old public address system is apparently still intact, and wired to all the flats. Each morning Willi wakes up his fellow residents to the strains of either Portrait of a Flirt or Westminster Waltz!
Paul Barnes is back on Saturday evenings. His radio show "Gold for Grown-Ups" from BBC Radio Norfolk (beamed to many BBC local stations in Eastern England) is no longer on Sundays (where it failed to reach its potential target audience) to Saturdays between 6.00pm and 9.00pm. Check the frequencies in Radio Times and tune in next week. Alternatively you can listen via the internet on the BBC website www.bbc.co.uk
Former BBC Radio-2 producer Anthony Wills now runs Golden Sounds Productions, but radio isn’t his only passion. He is also the Chairman of the National Piers Society, which publishes a fascinating magazine. If you’d like to know more, drop a line to the Membership Secretary: Phil Johnson, 26 Weatheroak Close, Webheath, Redditch, Worcestershire, B97 5TF, England.
Allan Bula has previously reported on the Hastings Light Orchestra, and the latest news is that it will join the Waldron Light Orchestra to perform a joint open-air concert near Lucas Hall, Waldron, on Sunday July 10th from 3.00pm onwards. Waldron, an ancient village approx. three miles east of Uckfield, East Sussex, is in the Domesday Book as Waldrene (from ‘the forest house’) and acquired its modern spelling in 1336.
John Wilson conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra on April 21st at London’s Royal Albert Hall before a capacity audience (reports Tony Clayden). The Classic FM Live concert included popular items by Mozart, Vaughan Williams, Handel and Walton; the latter’s Spitfire Preldue and Fugue was given a particularly spirited performance. Two compositions by Saint-Saens were featured, the Carnival of the Animals and the finale of the Third Symphony, which showcased the recently rebuilt RAH organ. The programme concluded with Elgar’s Cello Concerto, with Julian Lloyd Webber as soloist. John has now done a lot with the RLPO, and the synergy between conductor and orchestra was most evident.
We are pleased to report that Ann Adams has been invited to play once again in a London park this summer. The venue is Kensington Gardens, on Sunday 31 July and as we go to press the concert is expected to start at 2.30 pm. If you plan to attend, you may care to ring Brian Reynolds beforehand (telephone number on inside front cover) to check that there have not been any last-minute changes.
Shelley Van Loen has just released a new CD – "In The Shade Of The Palms" - on her own PalmCourt Records label. Full details, plus a review, will appear in our next issue, but if you would like to order a copy before then you can telephone Shelley on 01869 351990.
Sound Copyright – the battle goes on! In April a New York Court of Appeal found in favour of Capitol in a dispute with Naxos. Initially this raised alarm bells since there seemed a prospect that record companies reissuing recordings over 50 years old could be prohibited from selling in the USA. However this appears to have been an over-reaction, and the suggestion has been made that Capitol’s win could prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. It is alleged that the judgement only applies to record companies with an office in New York (such as Naxos of America). Another complication is that a query has arisen as to whether EMI could assign rights to its Capitol subsidiary in recordings that had already fallen out of the 50-year copyright in Britain, and were therefore in the public domain. Clearly there are going to have to be even more court cases in an attempt to clear up what is becoming a very messy situation. One speculates as to how any judgement in one country could prevent the world-wide trade in CDs that now exists via the internet. The best answer for the major record companies would seem to be to exploit their own catalogues by bringing out reissues themselves, competitively priced, so that there would be no point in independents such as Naxos trying to gain a share of the market.
Within ten days of the news of Robert Farnon’s passing, Sanctuary Living Era advised all their dealers of the CD "A Portrait of Farnon" originally released in February 2004.
BRAVO MARK STEYN!
For all the 49-odd years that our Society has existed, we have come to expect snide, derogatory comments about ‘our kind of music’ from musical snobs who wouldn’t recognise a tune if it jumped up and slapped them in the face. Give them atonal cacophony and they roll over with their legs in the air waiting to be tickled, just like the Editor’s black cat Mamba. But to admit to enjoying melody …?
Therefore it’s all the more pleasing when, occasionally, a columnist does have the courage to admit to liking something musical which gives pleasure to the majority. Even more surprising, is a columnist who takes his fellow writers on the same newspaper to task.
This is what Mark Steyn said in his Daily Telegraph column on 3 May:
"It's the little things in the paper that drive you nuts. I made the mistake of reading Thursday's obituary of Robert Farnon on a plane and the following sentence caused my mouthful of coffee to explode over the guy in front of me and set his hair plugs alight: ‘He also did some suitably syrupy arrangements for the crooners Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne and Vera Lynn.’
Good grief. There's nothing "syrupy" about Farnon's arrangements for Sinatra. If you listen to his work on Sinatra Sings Great Songs From Great Britain, the guitar coda on "Garden in the Rain" and the trumpet obligato on "If I Had You" are worth the price of admission alone.
I felt rather depressed at the thought that "syrupy" should be my paper's final judgment on the greatest Canadian orchestrator of popular music ever, especially when you consider that "Now is the Hour" (the "Maori farewell song") was co-written by Clement Scott, the Telegraph's drama critic from 1872 to 1899.
It remains the only song by a Telegraph journalist ever recorded by Sinatra, at least until the lost tapes of Frank Sinatra Sings the Boris Johnson Songbook are discovered.
So I dusted off the Great Songs From Great Britain CD and was reassured to find the Farnon arrangements as ravishing as I remembered them. The key line is from "Garden in the Rain": "a touch of colour 'neath skies of grey." That's what Farnon's orchestrations brought to even the dullest material, like "We'll Meet Again", whose stiff-upper-lip sexless stoicism Sinatra can't get his head around at all.
We'll be hearing "We'll Meet Again" rather a lot this VE anniversary week. Looking back at that Sinatra/Farnon album, you're struck by how - in 1962 - so many of the numbers they chose are wartime songs, either from the Second War - "We'll Gather Lilacs" - or the First - "Roses of Picardy".
One of the reasons why it's effortlessly easy to "commemorate" the Second World War is that popular culture had signed up for the duration. It was the war that brought Robert Farnon to Britain, to lead the Allied Expeditionary Force's Canadian band, as Glenn Miller and George Melachrino led the American and British bands."
Bravo, Mark Steyn! We need more writers like you to bring some commonsense to the blinkered musical establishment.
■ Last Christmas a BBC-1 ident showed young children bouncing in the snow on Christmas puddings. Several British members contacted us to ask about the attractive music heard in the background. It sounded like vintage mood music, but no one could identify it. Eventually Ralph Thompsonmanaged to track down a lady at the BBC who said that it was simply called "BBC Ident" and was published by the BBC. It was specially written by Peter Lawlor; we wonder if any readers know of him – has he composed any other music like this?
■ Allan Bula tells us that Herbie Flowers says the Hastings Light Orchestra could rise again this Spring.
■ Thanks to Sigmund Groven, we can report that the ‘Warren’ who composed Martinique (the Ray Martin version on a Decca 78 was included on the Guild CD GLCD5101), is actually Norman Warren, an arranger and composer who was a backroom boy active on the London music scene from the 1940s to the 1960s. Martinique was also recorded by Tommy Reilly on Parlophone R3560. Warren and Reilly also co-composed Blow Man Blow and No Dice which Tommy recorded on a Philips single in 1962 (BF 326 543).
And on the subject of mysterious composers, Brian Reynolds has told us that the ‘Stewart’ who wroteThe Whistling Boy on the recent Mantovani Guild CD was not Ian Stewart as we had been informed, but a Colin Stewart (perhaps a pseudonym?).
■ The American record company Reference Recordings has experienced problems in recent years, partly due to a change in ownership. The Gramophone magazine has been listing some of their CDs among their details of new releases, including Robert Farnon’s ‘Concert Works’ (RR-47CD). Since this has deleted some while ago, we were hoping that it would be available once again, but so far it does not appear on any distributors’ lists.
■ The Royal Marines CTCRM Band are planning a disc of the Music of Ron Goodwin – expected release date August 2005 on their own ‘in house’ Chevron Label (writes Roger Hyslop).
■ Ena Reilly has recently launched The Tommy Reilly Appreciation Society in honour of her late husband, regarded by many as the finest harmonica player in the world. The special event took place towards the end of last September, involving performances at the local Royal British Legion and Tommy’s church at Frensham. Paul Lewis (who worked with Tommy for many years on the TV series "Woof!") acted as compere, and some of Tommy’s former pupils from as far afield as Japan attended a masterclass in his honour. If any readers would like more information, they are welcome to contact: Mrs. Ena Reilly, Hammonds Wood, Frensham, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3EH, England – telephone 01252 792422.
■ Alan Bunting tells us that Quantegy, the world’s last remaining manufacturer of ¼" and professional recording tape, unexpectedly closed down over last Christmas and filed for Chapter 11 (in the USA this is often a prelude to a business ceasing trading).
■ Forthcoming Concert dates:
John Wilson conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Crouch End Festival Chorus in "Cinema Classics" at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday 12 May at 7.30pm. The concert will be recorded for BBC Radio-2’s "Friday Night is Music Night". Tickets from RFH box office 08703 800 400.
The following day (Friday 13 May), John Wilson will be at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham, withGary Williams and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in a Tribute to Nat ‘King’ Cole. Box office 0121 780 3333.
Robert Farnon has decided to call his new Bassoon Concerto "Romancing The Phoenix". It is dedicated to the American virtuoso Daniel Smith (see page 5 in this issue).
As we went to press, we learned that the new work dedicated by John Fox to his dear wife Joy was due to be recorded at Whitfield Street Studios on 22 February. Gavin Sutherland conducted the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, and we will naturally give further details when the CD is released.
We were saddened to note the death of actress Virginian Mayo on 17 January aged 84. It was for her role as Lady Barbara in "Captain Horatio Hornblower" that Robert Farnon composed one of the most beautiful love themes ever heard in a film.
Finnish Television is making a documentary on the famous ‘Moomin’ cartoon character called "Moomin’s Memoirs", which will be shown in 2006. Robert Farnon has been invited to be interviewed for the programme; readers will recall that Bob composed the catchy Moomin back in the 1950s when the newspaper cartoons became popular in Britain. Bob often used to turn up at early RFS Meetings wearing a tie with little Moomins all over it!
Consuelo Velazquez, composer of the popular 1940s hit Besame Mucho died on 22 January in Mexico City, aged 88. She began her career as a classical concert pianist, but later became a singer and one of the best-known composers in Mexican history.
There will be an exhibition of works by Benedetto at the Catto Gallery, Heath Street, London from 5 to 24 April. The artist is better-known as Tony Bennett.
Universal has issued a 2-hour TV documentary featuring Bert Kaempfert on DVD. The film by Marc Boettcher is based on his biography on the bandleader, and includes rare footage and photographs from private archives, as well as interviews with friends, colleagues and musicians. There are also excerpts from Kaempfert’s stage and TV appearances. Also included is a special bonus CD with 20 complete tracks where the music in the film is only heard in part. There is an English soundtrack, as well as German. The DVD is called "Strangers In The Night: The Bert Kaempfert Story".
Sessions will take place this year towards a third Campion CD of original compositions by Matthew Curtis. Once again Gavin Sutherland will be conducting the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, A few tracks were actually recorded last July, and titles selected so far include On the Move, Flute Concerto (soloist Jennifer Stinton), Five Dances for String Orchestra, At Twilight (strings and harp), Partita andDivertimento Concertante for clarinet and small orchestra (soloist Verity Butler – who also happened to be Mrs. Gavin Sutherland!).
If you have one of the RFS pens that have been available at some of our recent London meetings, you may like to be reminded that standard rollerball refills from W H Smith will fit (make sure youonly buy the WHS own brand, not others such as Parker which are a different shape).
James Cahall (from Louisville, Kentuckey) sent us an amusing cutting from his local newspaper. It informs that "Westport Road is closed just east of Herr Lane, but motorists may detour via Bob Farnon Way and Lyndon Lane!
The March issue of ‘The Gramophone’ includes an article on Light Music by Andrew Lamb. The Guild ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series is mentioned, along with some recent Vocalion CDs.
The next concert of The Edinburgh Light Orchestra will be on Saturday 28 May, at the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh as usual. Conductor James Beyer hopes that some RFS members will come along to join the capacity audience that these concerts now regularly attract. Further details from James at: 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
Composer Adam Saunders was in Prague at the end of January, recording come of his latest works for a Chappell CD "Epic Choral" with the City of Prague Philharmonic. The choir is the Brighton Festival Chorus (overdubbed in England).
Philip Farlow is continuing to be involved in the regional BBC South, South East 'evening share' programme on Fridays that he instigated mid-1998 called 'Big Band & Swing'. Nowadays Philip mainly gets involved in ‘specials’; he ceased doing it regularly in December 1999 as all the time spent producing a 'proper' programme was de-focussing him from his Audio Services work. Philip’s ‘slot’ was admirably filled by Grant James, but Philip now goes into the studios to do 'specialised' presentations which he regards as being quite prestigious – especially as there is a large audience over the Solent, Southern Counties, Kent, Berkshire and Oxford transmitters area. Some while ago Philip interviewed John Wilson and he would like to discuss his career with him again – if he can be fitted in with John’s very busy work schedule. Just before last Christmas Philip compiled a 'Glenn Miller in England' documentary which he understands from the subsequent feedback was received very well. "Big Band and Swing" can be heard on Friday evenings between 9.00 and 10.00pm. For those who live outside the areas covered by the local transmitters the programme can, of course, he heard via the BBC website on the internet.
As usual, there will be many new CDs to tempt us to open our wallets during the coming months, but as we go to press we only have very sketchy details of some of them. No doubt we will be able to provide much fuller information in our next issue.
First of all, on the Film Music front we have heard whispers that we can expect collections featuring film scores by Stanley Black and Mischa Spoliansky.
Mike Dutton has many attractive new releases lined up for the Spring, among them a new CD from the John Wilson Orchestra called "Dance Date" featuring scores by Roland Shaw and Pete Moore. From the vaults of Decca and EMI, Mike promises vintage albums by Victor Silvester, Ray Martin, Guy Lombardo, Eric Jupp (including the often requested "Music for Sweethearts"), Mantovani, Frank Chacksfield, Stanley Black, Ronnie Aldrich and Winifred Atwell.
Mike Dutton is also planning a new series of single LP reissues from Decca Deram, and one of the first will be the Robert Farnon / Tony Coe collaboration "Pop Makes Progress" (originally on the Chapter One label).
In February, the Dutton Epoch label issued a second volume of "British Light Music Premieres and Arrangements" (CDLX 7151) with works by Philip Lane (Overture on French carols), John Field (Concertino for flute and small orchestra), Haydn Wood (British Rhapsody), Rimsky-Korsakov (Variations on a theme of Glinka), Anthony Hedges (Festival Dances), Richard Addinsell (Harmony for false lovers) and Carlo Martelli (Romance, Greensleeves, Aubade).
Other Epoch releases include the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Barry Wordsworth performing music from Ballets associated with Sir Frederick Ashton (CDLX 7149), and a notable premiere of Sir Edward Elgar’s Piano Concerto (CDLX 7148).
Mantovani fans should be in seventh heaven with a new 4-CD box set from Jasmine containing 99 tracks. The period covered is 1951-1954, and inevitably there will be many duplications with CDs already released by several other companies. There is not room for a tracklisting here, but no doubt we will have a review in our next issue. If you cannot wait that long, you can order direct from: Jazmail, Unit 8, Forest Hill Trading Estate, Perry Vale, London, SE23 2LX, England (major credit cards accepted). The set is reasonably priced at £17.99 and UK postage is £1.00; Europe £1.50; rest of the world £2.80. Coming soon from Guild is a second collection of Mantovani – By Request, but you will be glad to know that this should be all material not previously on CD. Another Spring release from Guild will feature a second helping of Great American Light Orchestras. Full details – of course – next time!
Paul Barnes hosts one of the best music programmes on BBC Eastern Counties radio stations. At the end of November he took his cue from the news in our last magazine and informed his listeners that Doris Day was now a member of the Robert Farnon Society. To celebrate, he didn’t play a Doris Day record – instead he chose "Great Day" by the Robert Farnon Orchestra and the George Mitchell Singers!
We are very sorry to have to report the death of our member Robert Rudhall last December, following a long illness. Only a year ago Robert contributed a special tribute to his friend Ron Goodwin in JIM 154 (page 15). Robert first met Ron back in 1995 when he was doing research for his book about the making of the film "Battle of Britain".
Another Tribute to Angela …
I doubt that there are many in the Robert Farnon Society that need convincing that the new Vocalion CD of Angela Morley’s compositions and arrangements is a ‘must buy’. When I wrote the articles on her career a few years ago she sent me a tape of some of the music now contained on the album. I am glad that every lover of true artistry can now share my pleasure in hearing this music as some of the work she wrote for American TV series did not get a showing in the UK. John Wilson and his producers deserve a vote of thanks for enriching the world of music.
Lucky Scots enjoy Light Music
"There’s something blissfully anachronistic about the Queen’s Hall. With its florid cornices and church-like pews, the venue has a certain timeless grandeur which lends itself well to feelings of nostalgia. And after a week of self-congratulation in the Capital in the shape of the MTV awards, the unashamedly backward looking sound of the Edinburgh Light Orchestra was the perfect antidote to contemporary clutter. While easy listening classical music may not exactly be in vogue, the soaring cadences of the glissando strings during the ELO’s opening tune, Journey Into Melody, was enough to uplift the spirits of even the most cynical heart."
Thus wrote Duncan Forgan in his review for the Edinburgh Evening News of James Beyer’s concert last November. No doubt the esteemed critic was impressed by the fact that the hall was filled to capacity (about 800 people), and the enthusiastic applause from the audience perhaps raised a question mark regarding his comment about this kind of music not being in vogue. It seems likely that many more people would welcome the opportunity to attend concerts like this, but few towns and cities have a James Beyer to organize and conduct them!
As usual the programme was well balanced between light music, popular songs and works from the worlds of stage and screen. The closing work was Robert Farnon’s Sounds Familiar which, although written around a quarter of a century ago, still contains many tunes that bring instant recognition.
James Beyer and the Edinburgh Light Orchestra will be back at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh for their next concert on Saturday 29 May – for more details telephone 0131 334 3140.
Ray Clark also writes enthusiastically about the Yesterday’s Britain YB30 spotlighting London buses (reviewed by Glynn D. Parry on page 51). Ray additionally tells us about two Classic Railway Newsreels from British Movietone News which contain many examples of mood music from Chappell, Charles Brull, De Wolfe and Paxton. They cost £12.95 each and are available from: The Signal Box, 1 Albion Street, Anstey, Leicestershire, LE7 7DD – telephone 0116 236 2091.
Must Close Saturday Records
What’s in a name? Often it can be a very important marketing tool, but we wonder how many readers will realise the kind of music that is the speciality of the above new record company! But when you think of it, the name is rather clever, because it conjures up images of countless ambitious little theatrical productions whose appeal to audiences has sometimes fallen short of the aspirations of the talented performers. And that is often the kind of music that Adrian Wright passionately believes deserves to be remembered.
His new company concentrates of British musicals from the 1950s onwards that have been largely forgotten. The major record companies have original cast recordings in their vaults, but it takes a real enthusiast like Adrian to license this material, repackage it attractively, and issue it on CD. So far the label has issued The Crooked Mile, Oh What a Lovely War and Tom Brown’s Schooldays. If you are interested in musical theatre from around 40/50 years ago, keep an eye open for these CDs.Thanks to Peter Worsley for this information.
As we went to press we learned that Tony Bennett had been nominated in two categories for this year’s Grammy Awards in New York. Let’s hope he was successful!
Jack Docherty has drawn our attention to a section about Albert Ketèlbey on his home-town Birmingham Council’s website: www.birmingham.gov.uk/ketelbey
Musicians’ Union Election Success
RFS member Tony Whittaker has just been elected onto the Executive Committee. "I am delighted to have won the election" says Tony, who lives in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, "and I look forward to representing the Midlands area for the next two years". Members who attend our London meetings will know that Tony is a keen supporter of RFS activities, and we are pleased to congratulate him on winning the confidence of his musical colleagues.
"Inside Antiques" on BBC4 (Friday 23 January) was devoted entirely to the subject of the collectors’ market and interest in railway travel posters, in the context of popular seaside destinations of the 1930s and 1940s. Several pieces of light music were heard in the programme:Coronation Scot was used for the opening titles and also the end credits. At other points we heardRhythm on Rails, Jumping Bean and Will o’ the Wisp. No other light music was used, and it added even more interest to a fascinating programme. Report from Peter Luck