In 1967-1968 more than 300 of Britain’s biggest names in the entertainment world were interviewed by Bernard Braden for a proposed television series that never came to fruition. At the time Braden (one of our Society’s original Vice-Presidents) was a leading popular television presenter, and we have not (yet) been able to discover why the project was dropped. The good news is that the British Film Institute has been able to acquire this valuable resource, which is being made available for educational use – subject to the necessary rights clearances being obtained. Robert Farnon was one of the people interviewed, and thanks to David Farnon we now have a copy (unedited, and in pristine colour) in the RFS Archives.
On 11 May BBC-2 screened a concert from the Royal Albert Hall featuring the comedian Bill Bailey with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Anne Dudley – "Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide To The Orchestra". The event actually took place last October, and somewhat surprisingly it has been announced that a DVD will be released on 23 November later this year. This will feature the entire concert, not just the excerpts screened by the BBC, although TV viewers did see (and hear) the BBC Concert Orchestra playing David Rose’s Holiday For Strings and John Malcolm’s Non Stop. Unfortunately the music was punctuated by Bailey’s ‘witticisms’, but some people may have been sufficiently attracted to want to explore further. Thanks to Roger Mellor for this report.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of his daughter Michele, there are many releases on CD and DVD featuring Matt Monro, and a recent package from Odeon Entertainment called "The Ultimate Performer" includes an extract from Tony Bennett’s Thames TV show on 18 October 1972 from London’s Talk Of The Town featuring Robert Farnon and his Orchestra. This was a series featuring many top singers with Tony Bennett (all featuring the Robert Farnon Orchestra) and as far as we know this is the first time that anything from this source has appeared on DVD (if you know differently, please tell us!)
Spotted for sale on the Amazon website in July - copies of the following deleted Robert Farnon CDs: Living Era "Portrait of Farnon" on offer at over £110; Vocalion "Two Cigarettes In The Dark" £100; "Out Of My Dreams" £145.73; "Hoagy Carmichael/Victor Schertzinger Suites" a staggering £214.50!
On 24 June the London Daily Telegraph featured an interview with RFS member John Wilson. In the newspaper it was headed: "Conductor who saw the light". On the Telegraph’s website the same article appeared as: "John Wilson’s plight for ‘light music’". The sub-heading was more explicit: "John Wilson is on a crusade to bring light music and classic film scores back to our concert halls". It seems that the interviewer Ivan Hewett was slightly confused in suggesting that "Workers’ Playtime" was once a home of light music on the radio (no doubt he meant "Music While You Work") but at least the article will have alerted some readers to the fact that light music is still alive and kicking, and all the indications are that it is gradually making a comeback. In a resumé of John’s impressive career to date, Hewett reported: At 16 he founded the Newcastle Symphony Orchestra; at 18 he went to the Royal College, where, as he puts it, "I could form a different orchestra every week." By the age of 22 he was out in the world arranging music for Radio 2’s ‘Friday Night Is Music Night’, and scouring libraries and archives for music for his newly formed John Wilson Orchestra. "I was determined to get that wonderful Fifties sound you hear on those great MGM musicals, so I booked the best players. It’s the same now. You wouldn’t believe how many section principals and orchestral leaders I’ve got in the string section!" he says proudly. "And we did top-quality repertoire – Gershwin, Cole Porter, all in fabulous arrangements." By 2002, the orchestra had its first Queen Elizabeth Hall concert, and in 2004 Wilson conducted his first MGM Live concert. Talking about this brings a crusading gleam to his eye. "I realised that an awful lot of this music had disappeared. It turned out that MGM threw out all the scores for their great musicals like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’. They were used as landfill for a car park. So I had to track down the short scores and parts. It’s been a 10-year project." Getting the style right involved studying a man who, for Wilson, is a neglected master of 20th-century music. "Conrad Salinger was a house orchestrator for MGM, and he was really in the Ravel class. André Previn reckons he’s the greatest who ever lived. I’ve learned lots of tricks from him." Would he describe himself as a perfectionist? "Oh, it’s got to be right. I once spent a whole Sunday morning on just four bars from ‘The Wizard of Oz’." We’ve been talking about American film composers, but it’s only when I ask Wilson about future plans that the truth finally comes out. "People think I’m a film music nerd, but my real passion is English music. What I’d really like to do is conduct all the Vaughan Williams symphonies." What makes English music special for him? "Oh, I can’t explain it. It’s that wistfulness and longing and melancholy. Elgar’s symphonies I think are in the Beethoven class. I have fights with people in the pub about that." The idea of Wilson getting in a fight is wonderfully improbable; but then so is his charmed life-story, which is the stuff of a good musical itself.
The Summer edition of The Light Music Society Newsletter includes Ernest Tomlinson’s last Chairman’s Letter at the helm. He explains that health considerations have forced him to come to terms with the fact that the time is right to hand over to a younger person. This year the LMS Annual Concert and AGM has moved from Ernest’s home at Lancaster Farm, and is taking place in Cheltenham with Gavin Sutherland waving the baton. The date is Sunday 30th August, and a new Chairman will be elected. As we go to press nominations are being received, and we will announce the name of the new chairman in our December issue. Ernest has been a splendid ambassador for light music. His involvement with the Light Music Society goes back to the mid-1950s when it was supported by the BBC; Ernest became Chairman in 1966. Soon afterwards the BBC’s interest in light music faded, and for many years the LMS became a dormant non-membership organisation. The Library of Light Orchestral Music was established in the 1980s when Ernest became aware of the large amounts of manuscripts that were being destroyed. The LMS was re-launched, and it became fully operational once again in 1996 when the Newsletters were reintroduced. Ernest’s successor will have a hard act to follow, but ET promises to remain active in the background to give advice when needed!
Several members have written to tell us that it is now possible to view a rare film containing music by Robert Farnon on the internet. The title is "This Is London" and it was made to encourage foreign visitors to London during the 1950s. Rex Harrison narrated, and Robert Farnon contributed the score. It is all new music – not a rehash of existing compositions. Courtesy of Alan Willmott we have screen this film at our London meetings many years ago, but if you have internet access we strongly recommend that you spend an enjoyable 20 minutes or so viewing it. You need to input:www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=78588 While on the site take time to look at some other shorts from the same period – you’ll recognise a lot of the music!
On Sunday 8 November Debbie Wiseman will be conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Cadogan Hall in a Concert of music, poetry and song in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. The programme includes Debbie’s own scores for My Uncle Silas, Wilde and Tom & Viv, plus works by Bach, Borodin, Britten, Tchaikovsky and Holst. Telephone bookings: 020 7730 4500. Online bookings: www.cadoganhall.com
2009 is the centenary of the birth of Mansel Thomas (1909-1986), one of the foremost Welsh composers of the last century. He was a well-known conductor, and became Head of Music at the BBC in Wales. His vocal and instrumental music is performed worldwide by choirs and artists, including Bryn Terfel and the BBC National Chorus and Orchestra of Wales, and is featured regularly on radio and television. Awarded the OBE, he composed Rhapsody For A Prince for the Investiture of The Prince of Wales in 1969, and this is one of his many works currently available in print. For more information please contact the Mansel Thomas Trust at: Ty Cerbyd, Station Road, Ponthir, Newport, Wales, NP18 1GQ – website: www.manselthomas.org.uk
Another notable centenary this year is De Wolfe Music, which was founded in 1909 by Meyer De Wolfe at premises in 20 Noel Street, Great Marlborough Street, London, W1. In a special centenary publication called "Nitrate/Bit-Rate" the company makes the proud boast that it has the longest running, and most important film and television music library resource in the world. Originally the music was provided in the form of sheet music, but as each new advance in sound recording has come along it has been fully embraced. Some readers of this magazine will have De Wolfe 78s, LPs and CDs; but even these are now being consigned to history, with computer technology now the norm. Happily the business is still controlled by the family: James de Wolfe is Chairman, and his son Warren de Wolfe is Managing Director. The Robert Farnon Society has enjoyed a very friendly relationship with De Wolfe for over fifty years, and we are delighted to send our very best wishes to them in celebrating this milestone. For a fuller report on this enterprising music publisher (which also owns the famous Angel Recording Studios) please refer to the article in Journal Into Melody issue 140, September 1999.
Malcolm Powell is well-known to RFS members through our London meetings and his splendid photos which have regularly appeared in our magazines for more years than we care to admit! But he is also a familiar voice to listeners of Meridian FM where he presents a regular programme "Looking For Yesterday". Why not join him by visiting www.meridianfm.com
A Canadian note from Pip Wedge
BOSS BRASS BOWS OUT
Seven months after Rob McConnell’s famed Boss Brass had made a welcome return to the Toronto music scene with three sold-out concerts at Toronto’s Old Mill in December 2008, Rob and the group made what was announced as positively the band’s final appearance on Canada Day, July 1st, with a lunchtime performance at the Toronto Jazz Festival’s Mainstage in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square.
Apart from Rob himself, the only Boss Brass veterans who appeared on the final gig were Don Thompson (vibes, piano), Steve Wallace (bass) and Bob McDougall (trombone). Yet so strong is the pool of musicians available to draw on in Toronto, that Rob’s distinctive award –winning charts sounded every bit as crisp and exciting as when we first heard them, from the Strike Up the Band opener to the All The Things You Are closer, with Rob’s unique version of Oh Canada appropriately bringing the set to a close - and ensuring a standing ovation!
Bob made some comments about having a bonfire of all his charts, but no-one took him seriously. There are many universities around the city – and the country – that would be delighted to house them.
In JIM 169 in September 2006, reporting on Rob’s appearance with his Tentet at this same Toronto festival, I noted that Rob had been having health problems, and expressed the hope that his choice for their final number, For All We Know (We May Never Meet Again) was in no way prophetic. What a difference three years have made, thank goodness!
Our last issue was just closing for press when we learned that our good friend Malcolm Laycock had decided to quit his Sunday evening show on BBC Radio-2. The news was mentioned briefly in our Stop Press feature, ‘And Finally’ (JIM181, page 97). Little did we imagine at the time that Malcolm’s departure would cause such a furore. The BBC attempted to pretend that his decision was a big shock and they had tried to persuade him to stay. But journalists on several national papers ensured that the real reasons would be disclosed, and the resultant publicity certainly made many people wonder exactly what goes on at the BBC. Some other music magazines have been quite vitriolic in their condemnation of the Corporation, reinforcing the widely held belief among many of the older generation that the BBC is no longer interested in providing them with the kind of entertainment they would really like to enjoy on radio. Sooner or later this anti-BBC feeling will have to result in changes being made to their music policy, otherwise a groundswell of public opinion could well result in far more serious consequences. How many more times do we have to remind the BBC that we all pay a licence fee in the expectation that they will provide a service for all the population, not just under 40s and vociferous minorities? They are removed from the pressures of advertisers wanting large audiences, and can concentrate on quality, rather than dumbing-down to try to compete with the competition. But to return to Malcolm Laycock: it is now clear to many of us that the BBC had been making life intolerable for him, in many subtle and underhand ways, because they no longer wanted his show on Radio-2. It didn’t fit in with the soft-rock image fostered in recent years, even though similar fare is already available from countless other radio stations. David Jacobs, Desmond Carrington and Russell Davies should be very worried. As technology progresses there will be an increasing number of ways in which to listen to one’s favourite music – if you need further proof read Brian Stringer’s feature on page 46 of this issue. If the BBC doesn’t do the decent thing, and bring Malcolm back without any strings as to what music he can play, surely another enterprising broadcaster will be glad of the services of a friendly and experienced broadcaster with a large, loyal following. Sadly this report had already been printed, and the December 2009 issue of ‘Journal Into Melody’ was being distributed, when the news of Malcolm Laycock’s sudden death on Sunday 8 November shocked all his many friends and admirers.
However it is only fair that praise should be given when it is due, and the BBC deserves a massive pat on the back for the John Wilson MGM Prom. We won’t repeat what is in our report on page 50, but if you missed it please keep a watch on radio and TV listings during the coming weeks because we understand that it is likely to be repeated over the festive season.
It is always a particular pleasure to pass on news of RFS members’ music making, and we are glad to learn that Greg Francis (Musical Director of the National Concert Orchestra of Great Britain) continues to wave the baton for light music. In a recent letter he reports: "I thought I might send an update on a couple of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra popular music concerts I’ve conducted recently. Last year, we managed to get a commission from the Liverpool Culture Company to find as many good local singers as possible, the idea being that they perform live on stage with the RLPO. The concert went ahead last November (2008); it played to a full house and the local press reported that the bar had taken more money than ever before in the history of the Philharmonic Hall. This was interesting to learn, because it perhaps indicates that there is a wide market out there of people who will attend an orchestral concert of light and popular music, but who might never perhaps consider going to sit through a classical performance. So successful was the venture, that Liverpool Council asked us to present the same concert again, which features 18 singers (of the widest styles imaginable) plus the superb Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and a small group of my own players to add a popular feel. And so, the latest concert was duly performed on July 31st in a spectacular marquee along the new pier head at Liverpool dock. The concert was attended by about 8,000 people, which speaks volumes for the popularity of both the orchestra and the musical content! Fortunately, having written the 36 new scores for the concerts, I was also invited to conduct the orchestra on both occasions, and I have to say that the RLPO orchestra musicians are an outstanding example of the versatility and professionalism of British musicians. It is now being discussed that we might perhaps take the orchestra, the singers and the concert to New York next year as a cultural exchange project. There are of course strong links between Liverpool and New York. So, all in all, we seem to have proven that there is a very wide market for light and popular music played by a professional orchestra of the high calibre of the RLPO. Wouldn’t it be nice if other regional orchestras would consider widening their repertoire a little? I really believe it is essential that we keep the barriers down between classical and light popular music. Other good news is, that the ‘Bat – the Symphony’ tours I conducted this year, with the National Concert Orchestra of Great Britain, were a resounding success. The Orchestra has been re-booked for a 20 date tour of the UK again next year, plus a 12 date tour of Scandinavia. Although this definitely doesn’t fall into the ‘popular light music’ category, the orchestra was the main attraction for a lot of people. Not only did it elicit many requests for recordings by the orchestra, but it gave me the opportunity to debut live some of the music written by my 26 year old son (Paul E. Francis) for Sky TV movies, and also those he wrote last year which were recorded by the City of Prague Orchestra. Anyone who wished to hear some of his music, can visit his website at www.PauleFrancis.com"
Like many RFS members, Kevin Stapylton from Lithgow, NSW, Australia, is involved with community radio and he tells us that during the week of Robert Farnon’s birthday, 24 July, he presented a daily feature where in each case the orchestra backing each vocalist was under Bob's direction. He had no listener response but – as he says: "at least I had the personal satisfaction of paying tribute to a great friend and one of the world's finest composers of all time."
One of our Australian members, Graham Miles, has sent the following information which will be of interest to brass band fans. Those of you who appreciate brass band music may like to know there is a website radio station streaming non-stop brass music. To be found at www.allbrassradio.com , it is the brainchild of Dr. Jim Fox who set it up several years ago. He says content of nearly 400 CDs, with more being added all the time, play randomly 24 hours a day. Although based in the USA, All Brass Radio plays many British recordings including those by The Corey Band, Foden's, Black Dyke and many others. Worth a listen if this genre appeals. Dr. Fox also welcomes comments and suggestions by email to ."
It has been almost eighteen months since the Edinburgh Light Orchestra performed a programme of Light Music in Scotland's beautiful capital city. The reason for the absence has been the illness of its conductor James Beyer, for many years a member of the RFS. The good news is that James is now recovering well, and he was back on the podium at the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, on Saturday 7 November. As well as the usual varied selection of top composers (Robert Farnon, Richard Rodgers, John Williams, Eric Coates, Haydn Wood and Ivor Novello - to name just a few) there was a special Tribute to Angela Morley, who died last January. The news of the concert came too late for inclusion in our September magazine, but we hope that many members will have discovered the details well in advance in the Latest News section of our website.
"Nostalgic Journey" (for small orchestra), the piece written by David Barton for the 50th anniversary of the Robert Farnon Society is now ‘in print’ and available to order from the publisher’s website at http://stores.imaginemusicpublishing.com/ and costs $40.00 (approximately £24.00) for the score and set of parts. It was recently included in a preview of new works at the Texas Orchestra Directors Association (TODA) Convention in San Antonio.
Paul Clatworthy mentioned the Robert Farnon Society in a letter published in the October issue of Jazz Journal. He explained that he reviews jazz CDs for JIM, and went on to praise the Metropole Orchestra. It is always helpful when our society gets a mention anywhere, because it tells those interested that we are still alive and kicking!
ROBERT FARNON’S SECOND SYMPHONY
Judging by the messages received by the Secretary, many RFS members spotted in Radio Times that BBC Radio 3 included Bob’s Symphony No. 2 in their ‘Afternoon on 3’ programme on Friday 25 September. A few days before the broadcast producer Neil Varley invited David Ades to say a few words about the symphony, and a telephone interview took place on the Thursday. This was edited to a little over two minutes and was placed immediately before the music was heard. The recording was taken from the Dutton Epoch CD (CDLX 7173) with John Wilson conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra. Happily there was time at the end of the programme for a short encore, so listeners were also treated to Seventh Heaven from the same album.
In February it was announced that the major British commercial broadcaster G-Cap was closing down a number of its digital radio channels including "The Jazz" and "Our Kind of Music" – the station for which RFS member Albert Killman had provided many recordings of quality popular music including, of course, Robert Farnon. It appears that the lunatics appear to have finally taken over the asylum as far as decent popular music on radio is concerned. Perhaps one day future generations will wake up to what they have lost and do something positive about it. At least the music is being preserved on CD, so it will be available if anyone has the good taste to rediscover.
We are sorry to report that Raymond Elgar Beaver, the son of composer Jack Beaver, died on 25 January 2008. Some years ago we had the pleasure of his company at one of our London meetings, when he spoke about his talented father whose music is still finding a new and appreciative audience through its reappearance on CDs.
Bev Mastin has alerted us to a music website which contains (in his words) ‘a phenomenal selection of Farnon et al’. Bev is right – you will be astonished at the number of often rare records that are offered for sale, and you will probably be surprised and delighted to discover how much some of your own treasured LPs and 45s are worth. The site is: www.gemm.com . As an example, when Jumping Bean looked recently he found a less than perfect copy of the Philips "Shalako" LP on sale at £154 [$303]!
If you can get to London, here’s an important date for your diary! Ann Adams and The Ladies Palm Court Orchestra will be playing in Kensington Gardens earlier this year – on Sunday 29 June from 2:00 to 3:30 pm. On our back page you can see pictures from last summer’s event, which was greatly enjoyed by all present, including many RFS members. If you want up-to-date information please contact our committee member Brian Reynolds.
We hope that RFS members wishing to complete their collection of Living Era CDs took heed of our warning in JIM 174, page 82. Many of these titles are now becoming hard to find, and prices are rising. It is not uncommon to find some dealers asking more than £30 for second-hand copies.
Jim Entwistle recently went into his local HMV store in the north of England and asked the assistant behind the counter for a Naxos catalogue. "What’s Naxos?" came the reply.
Last year Greg Francis formed The National Concert Orchestra of Great Britain. The orchestra is presently being registered with the ABO, and it performed its inaugural concert last December. The remit is to play ‘light popular music’, and for Greg this is probably the realisation of a lifetime’s dream – to create a new orchestra ‘specifically’ to play this music. The first of the Leroy Anderson Centennial Celebration Concerts is on Sunday 21st September 2008 at St George’s Hall, Liverpool. Greg would like this to be an annual event; he regards Leroy Anderson as a ‘master’ in the art of bringing popular light music to the fore, and he influenced many of the composers (including John Williams) who followed him. Greg says: "we can’t allow his music to go unheard and un-noticed, and it dismayed me to find that only one other orchestra (The Scottish Festival Orchestra) has planned any kind of tribute to him in this Centennial year."
Alan Wright recently published his final edition of "Nelson’s Notes", dedicated to that fine American arranger and conductor Nelson Riddle. In his last Editorial, headed "Time To Call It A Day" Alan explained that the pressures of producing regular newsletters (the last was his 51st) were starting to become too great, not helped (in Alan’s own words) "…due to those twin protagonists dodgy health and the march of time combining to take their toll." He felt that it was best to stop before standards went into serious decline. However the good news is that Nelson’s music will still be remembered through several websites dedicated to his memory. Alan is one of that elite group of people who has felt compelled to share his love of music with others by keeping alive the memory of those they admire. We wish him many happy years of enjoying Nelson’s music; since his collection numbers over 200 CDs he shouldn’t worry about being bored!
Warmest congratulations to our Australian member Philip Brady who, on 8 April, celebrated 50thyears working on Australian TV and Radio. In his long career Philip has been a newsreader, game show host and foil for the barbed comments of several comedians! He now co-hosts one of the country’s most popular radio shows, and is regarded as something of a broadcasting elder statesman – as well as a celebrity. British RFS members have had the pleasure of welcoming Philip to our London Meetings in the past, and we hope it will not be too long before we see him again. In the meantime we wish him many more years of successful broadcasting ‘down under’!
James Beyer and The Edinburgh Light Orchestra treated the good citizens of Scotland’s capital city to another fine concert in the Queen’s Hall on Saturday 24 May. James tells us that they had an almost capacity audience of 744 – around 30 more than their normal summer average, and he was particularly pleased to note quite a number of younger people in the audience. As usual the programme commenced with Robert Farnon’s Journey Into Melody and among other treats were Philip Lane’s arrangement of Over the Rainbow, In Sherwood from Frederic Curzon’s ‘Robin Hood’ Suite, Clive Richardson’s Shadow Waltz (composed under his pseudonym ‘Paul Dubois), and an exciting finale provided by Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ melodies from ‘Oklahoma’. As the music critic in the Edinburgh Evening News reported: "under the experienced baton of James Beyer …the orchestra were tempted back to perform the Can Can twice. Clearly the audience couldn’t get enough".
London-based members interested in forgotten Gaiety Musicals may like to know that Ken Reeves is presenting two talks (with audience participation in songs) at Westminster Reference Library. The first is on 23 September, with a second spotlighting "Our Miss Gibbs" on 21 October. Seat reservations can be made on 0207 641 5250, or contact Ken Reeves direct at 232 Rainham Road North, Dagenham, Essex, RM10 7EA.
The centenary of Sidney Torch (1908-1990) was celebrated in "Friday Night Is Music Night" on 6 June. The enthusiastic audience enjoyed many of his arrangements, plus some examples of his earlier distinguished career as a theatre organist. Sadly only two Torch compositions were featured –On A Spring Note and All Strings And Fancy Free - but it was a memorable occasion with Robin Stapleton conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra in superb form. RFS member David Daniels reminds us that events such as this are becoming all too rare on the BBC. It is essential that we let the ‘powers that be’ know how much we value them, and want many more. As David says: ‘if we don’t support FNIMN, who can?’
On Tuesday 24 June BBC Radio-3’s daily "In Tune" programme was a live broadcast from the Maida Vale studios featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra. For part of the programme the orchestra regrouped to form ‘The BBC Light Orchestra’ conducted by John Wilson. John was also interviewed by presenter Petroc Trelawny, which gave him the opportunity to talk about his work with Light Music and the reconstruction of film scores. The ‘light’ section of the programme included Lonely Town(arranged by Angela Morley); Knightsbridge (Eric Coates); Melancholy Baby (arr. Richard Rodney Bennett); Westminster Waltz (Robert Farnon); and Nell Gwyn Overture (Edward German). If you think that John’s richly deserved international reputation now restricts his activities to big prestigious events you couldn’t be more wrong. Your Editor had the great pleasure of attending a concert in Martock, Somerset, church on 12 July, when John was conducting a group of twelve extremely talented young string players known as Sinfonia Westminster, in a programme including lighter works by Mozart, Delius, Elgar, Grieg, Percy Fletcher, Vaughan Williams, Tchaikovsky and Mascagni – all in aid of the church’s bells appeal.
JESSE KNIGHT SPREADS THE WORD ABOUT LIGHT MUSIC
On 29 June Jesse Knight, one of our keen US members, gave a presentation on light music in Portland, Oregon, at the Atlas Society's 19th Annual Summer Seminar. The Atlas Society is an international group of intellectuals who meet every summer to discuss a wide range of topics — everything from current events to economics to politics to philosophy to literature to, of course, music. Ages range from students upwards. There were around 300 – 400 people attending the conference, and Jesse anticipated an audience in the region of 50 for his piece. Not a particularly large number, but as he told us "it’s a start!"
Jesse’s presentation was meant to be an introduction to light music for those not familiar with the genre and consisted of a lecture along with numerous musical examples. Among the familiar pieces he included were Robert Farnon’s "Jumping Bean"; "Serenade for Youth" and "Montmartre March" by Haydn Wood; "Golden Tango" by Victor Silvester (played by the Palm Court Light Orchestra); "Dusk" by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs; "Woodland Revel" by George Melachrino; "Serene Place" by Bill Worland; "Busy Streets" by Roger Roger; "Skyline Concerto" by Charles Kalman; "Gentle Rains" by Adam Langston; and finally "Festa Day" by Matthew Curtis.
The idea behind the presentation was to introduce a group of intellectually curious people to light music, a genre with which they may not be familiar. Hopefully it would encourage them to explore the field of light music further. He discussed such issues as the importance of melody in light music; the music’s immediate accessibility; the absence of angst; and other issues. He traced a bit of the history of light music, discussing its demise, and now its recent renaissance. In addition, he provided a list of resources for those interested in delving into light music more, the Robert Farnon Society.
When asked for some personal information, Jesse replied:
"I have listened to classical music since a youngster. I have for some time been interested in what might be called the pops repertoire—composers such as Ferde Grofe and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. A decade or so ago I happened to attend a Pops Concert conducted by Portland’s Norman Leyden. Among the items on the program was Robert Farnon’s "Jumping Bean". I was completely delighted by the music, and I said, "Who is this Robert Farnon?" I began to look around on the internet and elsewhere. It didn’t take long to uncover the Farnon Society and the broader range of light music. Since then, I’ve written an article on light music and done some minor reviewing."
ADAM SAUNDERS : A YOUNG COMPOSER WITH A BRIGHT FUTURE
RFS member Adam Saunders is already well-known to us through his compositions such as Comedy Overture (1993) and The Magic Kingdom (2003). Adam studied at the Royal Academy of Music and London University, winning several prizes for composition. Since leaving he has established a career composing music for the concert hall and for worldwide television, film and other media.
In addition to a period as composer-in-association with the East of England Orchestra, Adam has had his works performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Academy of Ancient Music, London Mozart Players, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Renaissance and the Brighton Festival Chorus amongst others.
As well as his work as a composer, arranger and conductor, Adam also regularly performs as a jazz pianist with his own group, and as a pianist has performed at venues including Wembley Arena and the Royal Albert Hall. He is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Since 1997, Adam Saunders and Mark Cousins have enjoyed a fruitful creative partnership writing music for worldwide television, film, radio and other media. They are regular contributing composers for some of the world's leading production music companies including Universal, Focus and Amphonic, working on tremendously varied projects - ranging from cutting-edge electronica to sumptuous orchestral scores and big band jazz. Whether they're working in front of a 90-piece orchestra, or in a completely electronic production environment, Adam and Mark produce music with consistently high production values and musicality.
To hear examples of Adam and Mark’s work, visit their website at: www.cousins-saunders.co.uk
Some JIM readers might be interested in the recently published third edition of the 'Encyclopedia of British Film' (published by Methuen in 2008, 885 pages, paperback), available for £16.99 from amazon.co.uk [ISBN: 9780413776600]. This is not a book listing films like Halliwell's Film Guide, but covers people that contributed to their making, a kind of 'Who's Who' of the British film industry from its beginnings (before Mitchell and Kenyon) to Harry Potter and beyond. It features over 6,000 articles, varying in length (up to to 1,000 words for major figures) plus articles covering genres and themes in British film. Articles are researched from a wide range of sources and lists of film credits are kept to a minimum, for there would be little point in such a book if most of the material was readily available on the internet. There is an excellent introductory essay by Observer film critic Philip French, a Preface from Dame Judi Dench, suggestions for further reading, and a listing of British film award winners. The articles cover star actors and character players, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, screenwriters, studios and production companies, costume designers, and, of course film music, composers and musical directors. Before 1960 light music (in its broadest sense) was the basis of most British film scoring, just as it dominated the radio airwaves. Jazz and pop scores were rare, but became more common with the rise of composers like John Barry, though classic orchestral scores were still being written by the likes of Ron Goodwin and Angela Morley. There are articles on these and many other film composers, which relate exclusively to the subject's contribution to British film. Apart from Robert Farnon, light music legends such as Louis Levy, Philip Green, Stanley Black, Laurie Johnson, Charles Williams and George Melachrino all feature, as well as William Alwyn, Malcolm Arnold, Eric Coates, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Addison, William Walton and Richard Addinsell, together with bandleaders [Ted Heath, Jack Hylton], singers [Dame Vera Lynn, Jill Day, Jeannie Carson, Frankie Vaughan] and songwriters [Noel Gay, Vivian Ellis, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Paddy Roberts, Harry Woods]. There are articles on classical, jazz, and popular music in films, the 'Denham Concerto', and other music related topics, such as 'cinema orchestras and organists', with suggestions for further reading where this is available. So, for example, if you are a fan of the 1953 classic "Genevieve", you can discover that Kay Kendall's trumpet solo was played on the soundtrack by the legendary Kenny Baker and that the band musician who hands Kay the trumpet is none other than that familiar lived-in face from numerous 'B' movies, Michael Balfour (though we are sure many JIM readers will know this anyway !)
With so many fascinating websites now available on the internet (among all the rubbish that is best ignored), it can be somewhat bewildering when a simple question on a search engine produces so many results. If you want to find other music sites where would you start? With the name of the composer or artist is one obvious example, but this can involve a lot of time-consuming cross-referencing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one place you could visit to see a vast number of links to all kinds of composers, record companies, publishers, radio stations etc… Well, the good news is that such a place does exist … on our very own website! Just visit www.rfsoc.org.uk and click on ‘links to other music sites’ where you will discover "The most comprehensive Links page on the Web for beautiful/ light music/ pop orchestral music." The man responsible for compiling this valuable feature is RFS member Christopher Landor, and we are most grateful to him (and our webmaster Ruud) for all the hard work involved in keeping it up to date and reliable.
RFS member Gareth Bramley has recently told us about a new book which should appeal to many in our Society. Unfortunately its publication this autumn was due just too late for a review to appear in this issue, but we look forward to including a full report on the contents in the March magazine. The new book is called "John Barry – The Man With The Midas Touch" and it is being published to coincide with Barry’s 75th birthday. Gareth writes: "Whether or not you purchased ‘John Barry - A life in Music’, ten years ago, you can look forward to a book that has been thoroughly re-written and completely updated. We have spent a lot of time on the picture content and this too has been extensively updated and includes a good selection of rare photos, both colour and black and white. There are approximately 300 pages including two photo sections of 16 pages each of colour and b & w. In addition to this, a photo introduces each of the thirty chapters, and, of course, the discography has been updated to include everything that’s happened since 1998. It’s a book that does full justice to a glittering career. We want to emphasise that this project is basically a self-publication by people such as Geoff Leonard and myself in that we have commissioned a publisher to act on our behalf. All the work has been done by a team of dedicated Barry fans, much of it voluntarily." To order this new book contact: Gareth Bramley, 3 Newland Close, Toton, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 6EQ, England. The price for UK is £19.99 and cheques should be payable to ‘G. Bramley – Book A/C’. RFS members outside the UK should contact Gareth direct for more information re price and postage. Alternatively you can visit the website: www.johnbarry.org.uk/bab.php
Jan Eriksen is well-known to RFS members who regularly attend our London meetings. He has been responsible for keeping Light Music to the fore in Norwegian broadcasting for many years, and produced concerts featuring ‘greats’ such as George Shearing and – of course – Robert Farnon. In a recent message he told us about his meetings with Iain Sutherland, who will be the Society’s Guest of Honour at our meeting on 30 November. Jan writes:
"Iain Sutherland was a very popular guest conductor during the 27 years I was responsible for light music here in Norway. It is a rather sad story that the Broadcasting Orchestra no longer plays light music in our sense of the word. It’s either serious like Mozart, Beethoven etc, or pop music with sustained notes in the strings and a noisy percussion in the middle. In 1985 we put on a light music concert at an event called the Elverum Festival 120 km north of Oslo with the Norwegian Youth Symphony Orchestra, a group of gifted young people aged from 15 to 25 years old. Bob Farnon should have conducted, but due to health reasons was unable to appear. So I had to phone this Scotsman [Iain!]; he came and was a great success as usual. The programme included: 76 Trombones Wilson arr R. Farnon; Symphonic Suite from "My Fair Lady" arr R. Farnon; Journey into Melody; To a Wild Rose arr R. Farnon; Portarit of a Flirt; State Occasion; Aviator David Reilly with his father Tommy as soloist; Westminster Waltz again Tommy’s version for mouth organ and orchestra;Toledo J Moody with Tommy solo; and last Jumping Bean. Iain Sutherland conducted our Broadcasting Orchestra on several occasions, including its 40th Anniversary Concert in Oslo Town Hall live on television!"
News reached us during the summer of several broadcasters who went out of their way to honour Robert Farnon’s birthday in July. Paul Barnes on BBC Radio Norfolk, and Ted Nunn on Angel Radio are just two who have been complimented by RFS members who appreciated what they did. No doubt there are many more around the world.
On 20 September John Wilson was in Germany to conduct the WDR Rundfunkorchester in a concert of British Light Music in Cologne. The concert was broadcast a week later on WDR Radio.
Andrew Davis has written and produced a radio documentary about Woolworths record labels, and we understand that he has interviewed Johnny Gregory about his work for the Embassy label. "The Wonderful Sound of Woolies" is scheduled for 10.30pm on 16 December – BBC Radio-2. The presenter is Brian Matthew.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the music industry is out of touch with the realities of present-day technologies and their likely effect upon the availability of music in the future. The long-running saga over sound copyright in Europe is an example of over-protectionism at its worst, yet surely there is no point in passing draconian laws which many people will ignore and find ways of circumventing. If laws are respected as being sensible and fair they will be obeyed by the large majority. With music available worldwide via the internet, and many third world countries producing pirate CDs and DVDs in ever increasing numbers, stricter and unpopular rules in the ‘old world’ (for want of a better term) will simply drive more business away from honest manufacturers. Roger Mellor recently sent us a report which indicates that some sanity may eventually prevail. In the USA new fees set by the Copyright Royalty Board for playing music online by internet radio stations were so unrealistically high that it would have put them out of business. A public campaign has forced a Webcaster Settlement Act to be approved by the House of Representatives, and as we go to press it is confidently expected to be passed by the Senate. This will allow each internet broadcaster to make separate arrangements with SoundExchange, the body which collects royalties in the US, according to their size and ability to pay. This replaces a standard fee which was going to be more than doubled, with many internet broadcasters on the point of ceasing operations. Apparently there was some suspicion that the attempt to force a massive increase in fees was encouraged by traditional radio stations, who are likely to lose out as more and more people start turning to the internet for their radio entertainment.
In our June issue (JIM 176) we reported that Alan Wright had published his last edition of "Nelson’s Notes", dedicated to that fine musician Nelson Riddle. We are pleased to report that our good friend David O’Rourke has decided that the newsletter should not be allowed to die, and the first issue of a new volume of "Nelson’s Notes" reached us at the end of September. It is a quality publication, nicely printed on gloss paper with plenty of photographs. The President of the Nelson Riddle Appreciation Society is Mrs. Rosemary Acerra (Nelson’s daughter), and membership enquiries should be sent direct to her at: 186 Enclave Boulevard, Lakewood, New Jersey, 08701, USA. You can also join online at: www.NelsonRiddleMusic.com.
Although the compilers of various editions of our Robert Farnon Discography undertook considerable detailed research, previously unknown recordings still occasionally come to our attention. Gilles Gouset recently wrote from Canada to say that he had discovered the following 78s featuring the soprano Ada Alsop asccompanied by Robert Farnon and his Orchestra:
London R.10014: Pale Moon; At Dawning
London R.10015: A Brown Bird Singing; Morning
London R.10016: I Hear You Calling Me; Homing
Previously we had only been aware of:
Decca F 8988 Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella; O Holy Night
Presumably the three London 78s were also released in the UK, and if any readers can supply catalogue numbers will they please let us know. We hope to be able to play Ada Alsop singing A Brown Bird Singing at our London meeting next April, when Gilles and Marjorie Cullerne will be presenting a special tribute to Haydn Wood.
Rosemary Squires recently signed a contract to produce a CD with the Brussels Philharmonic, and she was in the Belgian capital 18th-24th November to make the recordings. She is the star guest on a ten-day tour of major UK venues with the Glenn Miller Orchestra beginning immediately after Christmas: 27th December – Royal Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool; 28th/29th December - Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow; 31st December - Barbican, London; 2nd January - Symphony Hall Birmingham; 3rd January - Conference Centre Harrogate; 4th January - Bridgewater Hall Manchester (2 shows). In additional Rosemary continues to charm audiences with her one-woman shows, and you can catch her at: 4th December - Life is Song - Village Theatre, Carthorps; 5th December - Gigs,Giggles and Gossip, Bowhill House Theatre, Selkirk; 6th December - Gigs, Giggles and Gossip, Wynd Theatre, Melrose; 7th December - Westovian Theatre, South Shields; 19th December - Life is a Song, Burleigh Academy, Newport. Rosemary was honoured in 2004 with the MBE for services to music and charity, and she is now in her sixth decade as a performer. We are proud that she is a member of the Robert Farnon Society, and wish her continued success as a top attraction for many years to come.
A recent brochure from Reader’s Digest includes details of a new 3-CD collection called "British Light Music Favourites". The accompanying publicity blurb mentions just two orchestras - Mantovani and Robert Farnon! Just a few tune titles are given, but we would be interested to know a little more about this collection if any readers have purchased it. The reference number is 0349623, and the price is £29.99 which makes it considerably more expensive than similar amounts of music currently available from labels such as Vocalion and Guild.
We are getting a steady stream of recommendations for radio stations (mostly local or internet) which offer ‘our kind of music’. Rod Rizzo (USA) has told us about Rich Conarty who presents "The Big Broadcast" on Sundays 8:00pm-midnight on WFUV (90.7 FM) – a programme dedicated to music from the 20s onwards he has been hosting for 35 years.
Many of you with internet access have probably already discovered the "Whirligig" site, which covers vintage UK radio and television broadcasts – www.whirligig-tv.co.uk. Brian Reynolds has recently been contributing information on various programmes to the site. As he told us: "Whirligig covers many interesting facets of early TV and radio, but its details of music programmes is sparse. I’m trying to redress the balance!"
RFS Committee member Tony Foster entertained Cheltenham Big Band Society with a varied programme of music on 29 August, in which he included no less than five Robert Farnon recordings –Jumping Bean, Theme from ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower’, Portrait Of A Flirt, Wave and Canadian Caravan.
André Leon, the boss of UK LightRadio, tells us that response to the initial set of test broadcasts in August was very encouraging. More tests will be available during December, so do try to visitwww.uklightradio.co.uk Events are moving fast, and there could be some exciting news in the New Year. In the meantime please pay a visit to our own website every so often and check the ‘Latest News’ section on the RFS Information page.
Sound Copyright has been in the news on and off in recent months, and you may like to refresh your memories as to what is at stake by reading again the article on page 5 of JIM 176 (June 2008). As we go to press the stage has been reached where Members of the European Parliament are starting to consider the proposals. From what we have been able to discover as we go to press (mid-October), a report is scheduled for adoption in committee at a first or single reading on 19 January. This will then go forward to the full European Parliament at a Plenary Sitting on 1 April (note the date – April Fools Day).
As you read this report there may still be time to make your MEPs aware of your views. Professional Lobbyists for term extension are making the case to MEPs inside the European Parliament right now. But your voice is stronger than any lobbyist. We can't overstate it: the most important thing you can do to stop term extension is to let your MEPs know your concerns so they see and hear your side. In the meantime the Directive is also being discussed by representatives of Member States in the Council of Ministers. And criticism of the Commission's proposal is emerging all over Europe. The world leading Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property Law in Munich, has released a statement concluding that prolonging the term of protection "cannot be justified from any point of view." Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law in Amsterdam, and one of the Commission's own advisers, has accused Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of intentionally misleading policy-makers with the proposal. Pekka Gronow, sound archivist, author of "An International History of the Recording Industry", and adjunct professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Helsinki, has written and concluded that performers benefit very little from the proposed extension ("in most cases the resulting sums will not even cover bank charges"). You are urged to add your own voice to the growing opposition against this ill-conceived set of proposals.
We are pleased to report that Ray Crick (previously in charge of the much-missed Living Era) label is now involved in an exciting new project. Details were still secret as we went to press, but we hope to have some positive news in our March issue.
Looking ahead to next April, plans are now being made for the Spring RFS Meeting which will include live music in honour of the 50th Anniversary of Haydn Wood’s passing. Members of his family will be with us at the Park Inn (formerly Bonnington Hotel), and this will be a special event that you won’t want to miss! Naturally full details will appear in our March magazine, together with a special feature on Haydn Wood – one of the great composers of the last century. Make a note of the date now: Sunday 5 April 2009.
A Society in honour of Eric Coates has been formed by the District Council in Hucknall,
Nottinghamshire, where he was born. Anyone wanting more information should contact the Secretary: Mr P.Butler, 47 Farleys Lane, Hucknall, Nottingham, NG15 6DT Tel 0115 9537393.
Martin Massini Ezcurra, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a great fan of the music of Stanley Black. Before spending a year studying in Britain, he got to know Stanley and his wife Edna, and met him many times in 2001 and 2002. Martin has prepared a list of Stanley Black recordings which he would be pleased to share with any fellow admirers. If you are interested,in the first instance please contact our membership secretary, Albert Killman.
Danny Robinson alerted us to the following letter which appeared in the London Times on 12 February under the heading Light Goes Out "Sir, My ears were opened to the joys of British light classical music by a series of free BBC concerts in the early 1990s. The beautiful sounds of Binge, Coates, Curzon, Torch and others came alive. In recent years, Britons have been able to hear a regular selection of these light classics, most of which are only three or four minutes long, courtesy of Brian Kay's Light Programme on BBC Radio 3, with the bonus of the playlist on the website. His one-hour programme made for a delightful interlude, well-suited to working in front of the PC or a break for afternoon tea. This week, however, Radio 3 has killed off British light music. No more dipping into an important, but little-known, strand of our national musical heritage. What a pity that the BBC cannot find time any more for these little snapshots of Britain. It makes one wonder who the controller thinks he serves. LESTER MAY, London NW1"
One of our German members, Alexander Schatte, has written to tell us about an ongoing project in honour of a leading composer. "For some years I have been working in my leisure time as archivist for the "Franz Grothe Foundation". Franz Grothe (1908-1982) was one of Germany's leading film and light music composers from the late 1920's until the mid 1960's. His musical output contains the music for 170 feature films, popular songs and also fine light concert works. Some of his hit tunes also became successful abroad like his "Midnight-Blues" in 1957. Last year I heard his famous slow waltz melody "Illusion" (also recorded by Dolf van der Linden and other international artists) on BBC via Internet-Radio. During recent months I have constructed a website for the Grothe-Foundation (presently only in the German language) which is now online at www.franzgrothe-stiftung.de The website also contains an online "orchestra catalogue" (103 titles) and in addition a second catalogue with our collection of original historic arrangements for salon orchestra (185 titles). I think these catalogues are interesting for all orchestras and small ensembles, musicians and conductors who enjoy performing traditional light and film music from this period. Every interested website visitor is most welcome to contact with me for further information."
The Scarborough Spa Orchestra is now one of very few light orchestras regularly performing light music. Their reputation has spread far beyond their native Yorkshire, and we hope that readers of this magazine who may happen to be in the north-east of England this summer will make a special effort to attend at least one of their concerts. The season starts on Sunday 3rd June and continues to Friday 21st September. The Scarborough Spa Orchestra gives six morning concerts and four evening concerts every week. Morning concerts are Sunday to Friday inclusive at 11am in the Sun Court, and evening concerts are Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 7.45 in the Grade II listed Grand Hall. For more details visit the orchestra’s website, which you can reach via the ‘Links’ page on our own website. RFS member Peter Luck was intrigued by one of the tracks on the Guild CD "Childhood Memories". When he listened to Time For Fun And Games he realised he’d heard it before, but where? The penny eventually dropped when he discovered that it was in "The Two Ronnies" ‘St Botolph’s Country Dance’ sketch that he had on a DVD. David Lennick has written about the Robert Farnon cutting on page 25 of our last issue – ‘The Tinder Box’. He thinks it is likely to be from January 1943, and stresses that the name of the radio series was "Magic Carpet". We were sorry to learn from James Beyer that the Edinburgh Palm Court Orchestra gave its last concert on Sunday 11 February. The orchestra’s Director, David Lyle, explained that they were having problems in finding suitable rehearsal premises, and it was difficult to find time in busy schedules for all the players and soloists to get together. There was also the recurring problem of hard-to-locate scores, and rising costs generally were a constant worry. Also their loyal audience was getting older, and ticket sales were slipping. Happily the Edinburgh Light Orchestra (under conductor James Beyer) continues to go from strength to strength, and their Saturday Concerts at the Queen’s Hall are a well-established popular feature in Edinburgh’s music scene. Their most recent concert was on 26 May, and it included works by Angela Morley, Robert Farnon, Edward White and Eric Coates. For details of their next event you can telephone 0131 334 3140. Have you ever wondered why some musicians only use their initials? Jack Docherty thinks he knows the answer. He recently discovered that H.M. Farrar’s full name is Hubert Murgatroyd Farrar!
Warmest congratulations to RFS member Vic Lewis who has recently been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II with the award of an MBE.
Back in June RFS member, and light music composer, John McLain launched a broadside against Radio Times through Radio-4’s "Feedback" programme. John was incensed at the changes on the radio pages of Radio Times which describe music as falling into just three categories: Rock, Pop and/or Classical. Unsurprisingly his tirade did not make it onto the programme. People working at the BBC these days must be getting completely immune to all the complaints from viewers and listeners. If anyone ever praised them they’d probably collapse on the spot, but there seems little likelihood of that happening!
A new work – Ronnie Smith’s "Seasons of Woman" - described by Robert Farnon as "truly beautiful music", was given its world premiere on Saturday 7 July by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Bateman. The venue chosen was the Watford Colosseum (formerly Watford Town Hall) where Ronnie Smith and his Band regularly performed from 1964 to 1974, often to audiences of 1,000 or more. The highlight of the concert was Ronnie’s "Seasons of Woman", composed over a period of seven years which its creator described as a testament to his love and admiration of women. Introduced by Rick Wakeman, the concert also included the jazz ensemble Light & Shade with Tina May, performing some of Ronnie Smith’s latest jazz compositions and arrangements.
RFS member Robin Dodd was recently invited by Angel Radio to present a series of one-hour programmes based on his JIM articles about his musical voyages (the final part of his trip to the South Atlantic appears in this issue on page 28). The first programmes were broadcast in May and June, with more to follow. Angel Radio can be heard in the Havant and Portsmouth areas on 101.1 FM and it is also available world-wide via the internet at www.angelradio.co.uk.
On 1 September (3 p.m.) the National Children's Orchestra (under-13s) will give the first performance of a specially commissioned work by Matthew Curtis called 'Four Winds Suite' in the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. On 21 October (2.30 p.m.) there will be a concert devoted entirely to Matthew’s chamber works at the Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham, performed by Marie Vassiliou (soprano), Verity Butler (clarinet) and Gavin Sutherland (piano).
Dennis Wright recently gave a presentation of some of his own favourites to his local recorded music society. We feel sure that some other members do the same. To make your event more memorable, it is helpful if you can provide some literature for anyone who may be interested. Our Publicity Officer, Paul Clatworthy, will always be happy to supply you with a selection of back issues of our magazine for distribution on such occasions. This is the time of year when plans are being made for events during the darker evenings, so please feel welcome to take advantage of this offer. You may also help to get some new members for us.
25 years ago Fopp began as a market stall in Glasgow, and eventually developed into a major retailer selling cheap CDs, DVDs and books. One of the additional pleasures of attending RFS London meetings was the opportunity to stroll along to Tottenham Court Road and browse through the thousands of CDs at Fopp, often as cheap as only £1 each. Towards the end of June the company announced that all of its 105 stores in Britain would be closed, thus depriving customers of a wonderful source of reasonably priced products. There was speculation that the firm’s problems could have arisen when it acquired 67 stores from the Administrator of the retailer Music Zone some months earlier. However the slump in sales of CDs has been blamed for Fopp’s closure; people are now getting more and more of their music from supermarkets, rather than traditional record stores, and internet sales (and downloads) are booming. Another large UK retailer HMV had announced a big drop in profits just a few days before Fopp announced that it was closing all its stores.
Ann Adams and The Ladies’ Palm Court Orchestra performed an attractive programme of music at Kensington Gardens, London, on Sunday 22 July. Among the many famous light music composers represented were works by Haydn Wood, Henry Croudson, Archibald Joyce, Frederic Curzon, Harry Dexter, Roger Quilter and Albert Ketèlbey.
Another independent record company has been taken over by one of the majors. It was announced on 15 June that Sanctuary (who issue Living Era and other labels and also own the old Pye/Nixa catalogue) had agreed to a £104.3m takeover by Universal Music. The price includes £59m of debt and it appears that the group's difficulties had arisen through problems with the artists management side of the business, which looks after the careers of stars such as Lulu and Sir Elton John. Although Universal has stated that it wishes to build upon Sanctuary's strengths and expand the business, we still remember what happened when BMG gobbled up the Conifer label some years ago. If any readers still need to acquire White Line or Living Era CDs for their collections it might be a good idea to get them sooner rather than later. There have been rumours of a counter-bid from a Hong Kong based consortium but to date there is no firm news of this.
Bassist Chris Laurence released his first CD album "New View" earlier this year, and Brian Blain interviewed him for the May/June issue of Jazz UK. Chris said that it was a thrill to work with Sarah Vaughan and Lena Horne "but what really sticks in my mind was a session with Bob Farnon, who was a really outstanding arranger, on a track with the great trombonist J.J. Johnson. It was just JJ and me in the middle of the old CTS studio at Wembley, on a simple blues Opus de Focus. But it was the kind of magical moment that stays with you forever".
Sound copyright: there is now an on-line petition where people who wish the sound copyright term to remain at 50 years can add their name. This comes under the trial UK government scheme whereby citizens can start up petitions for various causes. If there are large numbers of signatories on any given subject the government says it will take notice. We urge all JIM readers who support this petition to add their names as soon as possible. The petition will remain open until 2 December.
Paul Lewis has been commissioned by Bristol Silents and Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (Pordenone Silent Film Festival, Italy) to compose a new score for the classic masterpiece "Pandora’s Box". On 15 September Paul will be conducting his new score with a 25 piece contingent of the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, with film projection, at the Colston Hall, Bristol, commencing at 7:30 pm. He has written a special article about his work on the score (lasting an incredible two hours and eleven minutes of music) which we will be publishing in the next issue of Journal Into Melody.
John Wilson conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in a superb concert of music from British films as the second of this year’s series of Promenade Concerts, on Saturday 14 July. The enthusiastic audience response must surely convince the people who choose the repertoire for Promenade Concerts that this should not be an isolated event. John Wilson was introduced as one of Britain’s foremost light music conductors, so let’s hope that he is given a Prom next year where he can perform some of the finest examples from the world of light music.
Readers with access to the internet will have no problem in finding detailed tracklistings of all the Guild "Golden Age of Light Music" CDs on various sites, including www.guildmusic.com. For the benefit of those without this facility, Alan Bunting has prepared a printed list of all Guild Light Music CDs which he will be pleased to supply on request. Write to Alan at: 28 Pelstream Avenue, Stirling, FK7 0BE, UK – you are requested to enclose three first-class stamps to cover expenses.
Further to the report in our last issue, it was announced in September that Sanctuary Recordswould be closing down its UK recorded music business. The Group’s new owners, Universal, decided that they would concentrate on Sanctuary’s management arm which it stated in a press release was the more profitable side of the business. This tends to conflict with the impression previously given, where statements in recent months had suggested that expensive mistakes in promoting Sanctuary’s roster of artists (including Sir Elton John and Lulu) were the main cause of the financial difficulties. Apparently Sanctuary’s US recorded music operations are not affected, but the decision to close down the UK record business means the disappearance of popular labels such as Living Era and White Line. As we go to press we are still able to get supplies of CDs from Sanctuary’s distributors, but we have no way of knowing how much longer they will continue to be available. If there are any titles you particularly want (and in recent years there have been reviews in JIM of some interesting light music releases on both Living Era and White Line) we recommend that you should try to obtain them without delay.
RFS member Phil Stout has recently reported to us on his work as a Music Consultant with Music Choice, an American television company offering channels of various kinds of music. Of particular interest to readers will be the Easy Listening channel, which broadcasts uninterrupted music continuously for seven days a week. While the music is being played a suitable picture (usually a scenic view) is shown on-screen, together with details of the orchestra and title of the music. Sometimes there are photographs of the conductor, with extra information about their careers. From time to time items of trivia, associated with easy listening music, are scrolled across the screen. Phil tells us that it is often difficult to find decent photographs of the orchestra leaders. During a sample tape we saw Norrie Paramor, Frank Chacksfield, John Wilson, Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz, Franck Pourcel, Caravelli and many others; in total there are over 3,000 tracks in active rotation. Phil also provides a similar service for three other full-time channels: Singers and Standards, Big Band & Swing and Showtunes. Music Choice reaches over 30 million homes in the USA.
Readers who have spotted Paul Clatworthy’s reference to Laurie Johnson’s Rue de la Paix (in this issue’s ‘Big Band Roundup’) may be forgiven for wondering why this catchy melody has not yet been featured in the Guild ‘Golden Age of Light Music’ series of CDs. Although it was regularly being heard on BBC Radio in the early 1950s, it was not issued on a mood music 78 by KPM until 1960 so it is still in copyright.
RFS members will recall from recent issues of this magazine that Robert Farnon dedicated his Bassoon Concerto to the American virtuoso Daniel Smith. It is hoped that the UK premiere of this work (one of Bob’s last, which he based on his Saxophone Tripartite) will take place towards the end of next year. Daniel plans to be at our forthcoming London meeting, when he may have some more news about this eagerly awaited event. Meanwhile he is busily promoting his latest CD "The Swingin’ Bassoon" (Guild Zah Zah ZZCD9824) which will be launched at the Concert Jazz Club, in Thame, Oxfordshire on 28 November at 8:00pm. Daniel would be delighted to welcome some RFS members in the audience; if you would like to attend please contact Eddie Fowler on 01844 353117 for more details.
Some members may recall reading features in this magazine written by Mike Ellis. He was also a regular contributor to In Tune International, although he had been less prolific in recent years. Never one to shy away from being controversial, Mike had an encyclopaedic knowledge about quality popular music, and many of us will have learned much from his writings. Sadly he died on 3 September following a long illness, and we send our sincere condolences to his wife Marion and the family.
ERIC COATES TO BE HONOURED BY BBC RADIO 3
In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of his death, Radio 3 is to make Eric Coates ‘Composer of the Week’ 17-21 December 2007. The programmes are likely to include a number of premier recordings, and we gather that John Wilson is going to be featured as today’s leading interpreter of Coates’ music.
John Parry writes: Regarding the new Haydn Wood coll-ection on Guild Light Music - all these years we have had the problem of getting people to pronounce his first name correctly. I have another interesting factor for those who do not know the West Riding of Yorkshire. I spent two years in Bradford apprenticed in the wool trade. Slaithwaite, where Haydn Wood was born, is just outside this city and is pronounced by the locals "Slowitt", as in Jowitt, which was a car manufactured in Bradford in the fifties, sixties and maybe later. So I suspect Haydn had quite a job when moving to London, although the Isle of Man was probably easier!
Tony Bradley has sent us the following message: I have recently created a website dedicated to the memory and career of Denny Dennis. It is my hope that the website will allow a wider and possibly new audience to learn more about his talent. One of my main aims is to realise a CD reissue of some of Denny's later post-war material. This phase of Denny's career led to some of his very finest recordings, especially the dozen recordings that were made with the Robert Farnon Orchestra. Very little of this material has been reissued over the years. I have contacted several record companies with my proposal, but with no success to date. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas, suggestions, or contacts that might help. Any advice will be gratefully received. I can be contacted through the website, which is located at: www.dennydennis.co.uk One of the highlights of the Robert Farnon Society’s recent London Meeting was the live musical entertainment in the evening provided by Ann Adams and the Ladies’ Palm Court Quartet. As readers will know, Ann is always looking to increase the repertoire of the various ensembles she directs, and she wonders if members can help her with the following queries. There was a piece of music in the film "Miss Pilgrim’s Progress" known as The Cycling Theme which may have been composed by Philip Martell (credited with the film’s score) or possibly Ronald Hanmer – if a piece of library music was used. Ann would love to hear this piece, and learn who the real composer was; she also wonders if any member could provide her with a recording of Fairground Polka by Franz Salmhofer. There is some urgency involved here, which is why Ann’s request has not been included in our "Ask JIM" feature. If you can help, please contact Ann by telephone on 020 8440 1050.
Shortly before we went to press, Bob Vivian kindly sent us a draft of the programme he was planning to conduct for a concert featuring the Birmingham Schools’ Concert Orchestra at the Adrian Boult Hall on Saturday 13 May. It was a tribute to Ron Goodwin who was a patron of the orchestra from 1992 until his untimely death in 2003 at the age of 77. Among Ron’s great film themes Bob chose Where Eagles Dare, Frenzy, Monte Carlo or Bust, 633 Squadron, Miss Marple’s Theme, The Trap and Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. Ron’s close colleague, Ron Shillingford, provided much help in organizing the concert.
We have previously mentioned Angel Radio which broadcasts in Hampshire, UK. John Watson writes to tell us about two regular programmes he presents which he feels would be of interest to RFS members: "Angel Radio Tea Dance" featuring half and hour of dance music on the 1940s and 1950s – Tuesdays 4:00pm; and "Nice & Easy" playing half an hour of the best in Light Music – Thursdays 7:30pm with a repeat Sundays 10:30am. For details visit the website: www.angelradio.co.uk
James Beyer made some very kind comments about our Society in the March edition of hisEdinburgh Light Orchestra Newsletter. James wrote: Congratulations to the Robert Farnon Society on reaching its half-century. Following the half-yearly meeting on Sunday 2 April when light music aficionados will revel in an afternoon of musical entertainment, members of the Society will complete their day at London’s Bonnington Hotel with a Celebration Dinner in the evening. The Society has become the foremost organisation for light music enthusiasts and boasts a worldwide membership that is the envy of other appreciation groups in the field of light music. Take a look at the Society’s magazine alone – ‘Journal Into Melody’ – and you will see what I mean. Not only is it one of the most professionally produced periodicals currently available, it is packed full of information and interesting articles for devotees of light music. ….Happy 50th Anniversary RFS – here’s to the future! The Edinburgh Light Orchestra’s concert on Saturday 27 May featured, for the first time, two compositions by Angela Morley: the delightfully romantic Reverie for Violin and Strings and, in a more dramatic yet equally melodic vein, The Liaison. The late Trevor Duncan was also remembered with his March from ‘A Little Suite’.
A recent letter we received from Horace Bennett recalls the time when he first started attending our London Meetings and enthusiastically bought up 78s, whatever their condition. He continues: "When we got them home I played them as soon as possible. The quality of the music was what mattered, with the quality of the reproduction coming in a distant also-ran. In this way we made our first delighted acquaintance with such gems as Mr. Punch, Swing Hoe and Rush Hour. A few days ago we made a similar first acquaintance with Royal Walkabout (Carlin 179), prompted to order it by Robert Walton’s essay on Tête à Tête in the current JIM. It is indeed, to us, a notable and most welcome discovery. (Incidentally is he the Robert Walton whose Theatrical Overture is another delightful discovery on the same CD? Editor: Yes!) But Royal Walkabout is, we are told, a ‘reworking’ of Tête à Tête. It whets the appetite for the original work. How do the two versions differ? Mr. Walton refers to the ‘trotting’ tempo of Frankel’s Carriage and Pair which seems to suggest that the earlier piece was somewhat quicker. What other changes were made? Curiosity is aroused. According to the footnote Tête à Tête has not been made available on CD because the original recording contains some imperfections which presumably cannot be Cedared out. Referring back to my experience as a buyer-up of discarded shellacs, I would aver that we can be a hardy lot, not easily deterred by ‘some imperfections’ when the alternative may be to lose altogether irreplaceable gems. The wartime recordings of Bob’s Canadian Band of the AEF are not of the standard one would expect of recordings made today, but they are bought, played and greatly appreciated despite that. I would suggest that when (as in the case of Tête à Tête) only an imperfect recording of a significant work exists, it would be preferable to reissue it on CD with a caveat, rather than let it fall into oblivion". Editor: Horace certainly makes a strong case in favour of reissuing Tête à Tête. Maybe his enthusiasm will be rewarded one day!
Alan Hamer reminds us that the Miklos Rozsa centenary will occur on 18 April 2007. Alan would be delighted to hear from any RFS members who would like to learn more about this great composer, who is remembered through The Miklos Rozsa Society. You can contact Alan at: 37 Brunswick Park Gardens, London, N11 1EJ, England.
Andre Leon went back to his native South Africa early in May to visit his family in Durban and also to meet up with friends at Classic FM in Johannesburg. He told us: "It will be an opportunity to relate to everyone also the continuing dedication to Light Music which The Robert Farnon Society promotes from the UK worldwide. As ‘London Correspondent’ I will have the opportunity to tell SA listeners about the very successful and happy occasion when the RFS celebrated their 50th Anniversary. It was a great evening!"
Just released by Dutton Epoch – British Light Music Premieres Volume 3. Ernest Tomlinson – Rhythmic Overture Highway to the Sun; Victor Hely-Hutchinson – Overture to a Pantomime; Clifton Parker – Elizabethan Express film music; Phillip Lord – Three Court Dances, Celtic Suite; Anthony Hedges – West Oxford Walks; Carlo Martelli – Overture Celebration Day; James Langley – Ballet Suite Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Gavin Sutherland and Paul Murphy. CDLX 7170.
Please remember! Articles, features, letters, small advertisements and news items for this magazine should now be sent direct to our Editor David Ades.
This is so funny that it will boggle your mind. And you will keep trying it at least 50 more times to see if you can outsmart your foot. But you can't!!!
1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.
2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction!!!
We told you so... And there is nothing you can do about it!
Eric Coates’ Calling all Workers was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 9th September as part of the Last Night of the Proms.
Tony Bennett celebrated his 80th birthday with the release of a new album in August called "Tony Bennett: An American Classic" on which he duets with some of today’s biggest names, such as Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Diana Krall, Michael Buble, Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney and instrumental musical guests such as trumpeter Chris Botti. To coincide with the release of Bennett’s new album a star-studded one hour music special was televised on NBC in America, directed by Rob Marshall, the director of the recent hit film musical Chicago. In addition, a feature length documentary about Bennett’s life is in preparation with the intention to release in 2007 and is being executive produced by Clint Eastwood.
The power of orchestral music has been demonstrated when the producers of the recent thriller "The Da Vinci Code" were told to tone down the sound mix for Hans Zimmer’s score because British film censors felt that the tension and volume of the music would be too intense for children. They threatened to give the higher "15" classification if they failed to comply.
Matthew Curtis tells us that he has just finished recording a CD of his songs to be released by Campion Records later this year to complement the 3 discs of his orchestral music already issued by Campion. The 30 songs, in four cycles, are performed by the critically acclaimed British soprano Marie Vassiliou accompanied at the piano by Gavin Sutherland, and are all settings of poems by Anne Harris (1926-1990), a life-long friend of Matthew’s mother Jean.
Naxos is releasing a CD with Richard Hayman and his Orchestra called "Irish Rhapsody". It featuresMacnamara’s Band, Irish Tune from Country Derry, Irish Suite arranged by Leroy Anderson, and many others.
Also from Naxos are two Broadway Cast recordings of Jule Styne’s "High Button Shoes" and "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" from 1947 and 1949 respectively, starring Carol Channing and Yvonne Adair.
British television composer Nicholas Hooper has been appointed to write the score for the next Harry Potter film. He will compose the score for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" which is due to be released in July 2007. He will follow in the footsteps of Hollywood composer John Williams, who wrote the scores for the first three Harry Potter films, and Scotsman Patrick Doyle, who composed the most recent film.
Following the success of "Filmharmonic 1", a second CD has been released by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra featuring 16 tracks, including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Midnight Cowboy,Dead Poets Society, Oliver Twist, and a suite from The Truth about Love composed and conducted by Debbie Wiseman.
Due for release on 21th August by Gambit Records is a 24 track compliation CD featuring David Rose and his Orchestra called "Music of the Stripper". Tracks include What is This Thing Called Love, Mood Indigo, St Louis Blues, Harlem Nocturne, Walk on the Wild Side, and of course, The Stripper.
A new 2 CD set available exclusively through the UK mail-order company Nostalgia Direct is called "Moonlight Serenade – The Very Best of Geoff Love and Manuel and the Music of the Mountains" and features a total of 48 tracks.
Admirer’s of Ray Conniff may be interested to learn that the Ray Conniff International Fan Club Convention is to be held in Hamburg, Germany, from May 17 to May 20, 2007. Thursday, May 17 is a public holiday so nothing is planned for that night except a get together for dinner. The convention will officially begin with a reception on Friday evening. Further details will be available on-line on Manfred’s Ray Conniff web site. You can also email Manfred at
A new DVD box set of the cult TV series "The Champions" will contain all episodes from the series and many interesting special features, including interviews, audio commentaries and documentaries. At the time of going to press, it is understood the extras also include nearly 30 minutes of incidental music composed by Edwin Astley, Robert Farnon and Albert Elms arranged as a suite, and a different main title sequence featuring the unused theme by Robert Farnon.