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.
Several British members contacted us following "The Last Night of the Proms" on Saturday 9 September. There was a splendid performance of Eric Coates’ Calling All Workers played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mark Elder which opened the second half from the Royal Albert Hall. But what really delighted many members was the ability to access the five other concerts taking place simultabeously at other venues around the UK. If you had satellite television you could switch between channels and find all six concerts; even on terrestrial digital Freeview there was a choice of Hyde Park and Belfast – plus, of course, the Royal Albert Hall. While the musical establishment provided the usual high cultural (and rather boring) fare at the Royal Albert Hall, the other concerts offered far more interesting programmes that will have been much more appealing to the majority of viewers and listeners. By switching channels it was possible to enjoy the likes of Ron Goodwin and Henry Mancini, as well as some fine vocal extracts from musical shows. Given the cost of staging six such concerts, surely it was a waste of money and resources to stage them all at precisely the same time? One can only hope that all will be repeated at some stage in the future, so that they can be enjoyed by millions of music lovers. Can there be any other broadcasting organisation in the world that could stage six major concerts at the same time played by its own orchestras?
Tim Weston has advised us that the University of Arizona School of Music has announced the recent acquisition of the Paul Weston and Jo Stafford Collection. This gift comes from Ms. Jo Stafford of Hollywood, California.The collection contains music, memorabilia, films and photographs documenting the musical careers of husband and wife, Paul Weston and Jo Stafford. Jo Stafford is one of America's most successful and celebrated singers. In the 1940s she amassed 21 top-ten hits, was regarded as the favorite singer of the Armed Forces and was the first female artist to sell 25 million records. Her talent has labeled her as "America's Most Versatile Singer" through her coverage of a wide range of American music styles; ballads, folk songs, jazz, blues, hymns, and comedy. Some of her big hits include "You Belong to Me," "Shrimp Boats," "Candy," and "I'll Never Smile Again." The latter recorded with Frank Sinatra during her tenure with the Pied Pipers in Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra. Paul Weston was one of America's leading musical directors and arrangers. He first gained prominence in the late 1930s as one of the first arrangers in Tommy Dorsey's Orchestra. In 1942 Johnny Mercer hired Paul, who was then an arranger at Paramount Pictures, to be the first musical director for his new record label, Capitol Records. Paul produced, conducted, and arranged scores of hits in the 1940s and 1950s for Johnny Mercer, Margaret Whiting, Jo Stafford, Bing Crosby, and numerous others. He wrote standards such as "Day By Day" and "I Should Care," as well as concert works like the New Orleans Crescent City Suite. Weston was also a founder and first national president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He and Jo were married in 1952 and have two children, Tim and Amy Weston. "Our parents were at the forefront of arguably the most important era of evolution in American popular music," said Tim Weston, who also leads Corinthian Records and Soul Coast Productions. He adds, "Their collection of recordings, arrangements, scores, papers and memorabilia from the '40s, '50s, and early '60s will provide a significant amount of research material for those interested in learning more about this time in recorded American music." The University of Arizona School of Music holds several prominent American music collections, such as those of Artie Shaw and Nelson Riddle. For more information visit http://web.cfa.arizona.edu/music/research or contact Keith Pawlak, Music Curator, at , or 520-626-5242
The marketing ploy of record companies to record popular string orchestras under pseudonymous names such as 101 Strings, Living Strings and Romantic Strings, is well known and an established practice in the popular music industry writes Reuben Musiker. There are countless examples. The 101 Strings were particularly prolific. This orchestra released scores of titles in the 1950’s and 1960’s covering the great American popular composers such as Kern, Porter, Romberg, Gershwin, Carmichael, Youmans, Rodgers and many others. It is perhaps not well known that the outstanding American arranger Monty Kelly orchestrated the following discs in this series: ‘Soul of Spain’ (2 vols), ‘Soul of Mexico’, ‘Spanish Eyes’, ‘Fire and Romance of South America’, ‘Fire and Romance of Lecuona’. The Living Strings recorded a great number of LPs for the RCA Camden label. Principal arranger/conductor for 70 to 80 of them was Johnny Douglas. Hill Bowen also arranged and conducted a good many of them, some of his best known being ‘Too Beautiful for Words’, ‘Shimmering Sounds’ and ‘Music For Romance’. Other arranger/conductors in this series were Geraldo, Chucho Zarzosa and Bob Sharples. The Romantic Strings were a feature of Reader’s Digest albums from the 1950s onwards. They recorded many albums totalling 250 tracks. The arrangers/conductors were not generally identified, but definitely included Hill Bowen, Robert Bentley, Norman Percival and probably many more.
Tony Foster was a guest presenter at a recent meeting of the Sinatra Music Society’s Sussex branch at the Chatsworth Hotel in Eastbourne. He has also reminded us that the Edmund Hockridge Appreciation Society will be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year. Tony’s parents Edna and Percy Foster worked hard to get EHAS successfully launched all those years ago, and they are still remembered with affection by the members. We need hardly add that both Edna and Percy were actively involved with the RFS, and their friendly presence at our meetings is greatly missed by us all. However it is good that Tony is now a familiar face among us all at the Bonnington, and you will have seen him chatting with David Farnon on page 34 of our last issue.
By the time that you are reading this issue the Gowers Review may have been published. As we went to press we were unable to get any firm information from the Government department involved, so there is no indication of what the outcome is likely to be. There could be serious implications for the future of CD releases in Britain if the period of sound copyright is extended, and we will obviously keep you fully informed of developments in the future.
There’s something always uplifting singing a hymn with a large brass band, especially a Salvation Army Band, but this was no ordinary service but a celebration and thanksgiving for the life of Don Lusher OBE. True to his Salvationist roots, for it was where he learned the craft of brass playing, we were among his family, friends and many fellow musicians and admirers who packed the Central London Salvation Army’s Regent Hall on September 25th 2006 to remember one of Britain’s greatest trombonists whose career covered a wide range of musical stylesDon was always eager pass on his experience to others and for many years was closely associated with The Royal Marines School of Music becoming their Professor of Trombone for many years and it was a Brass Quintet of RMS Portsmouth that played Humoresque by Dvorak and Pachelbel’s Canon two familiar pieces in a very different instrumental setting.Sheila Tracy, who skilfully compered the proceedings, then introduced us to "The Best Of British Jazz", a group of top musicans founded in the 1970s which featured Don and Kenny Baker’s trumpet amongst others. The personnel has changed over the years and today is fronted by trumpeter Digby Fairweather with Roy Williams filling the trombone spot, Roy Willox on alto and Brian Dee on piano; they swung their way effortlessly through some familiar Jazz standards.There was a time when BBC TV produced Light Entertainment programmes of quality with very classy production values, and often the credits revealed the producer to be Yvonne Littlewood OBE who explained how she had met Don during the series "The Best of Both Worlds" . She recalled how she had worked on programmes with "the lovely Robert Farnon" and how Don became her first call on her shows. In 1979 she produced Don in his own hour long TV Special. It was special enough for the great Nelson Riddle to arrange and conduct a piece for Don. It was during that programme that ten -yes ten! - trombones played a Pete Smith arrangement of Grieg’s "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" and onto the stage came ten trombonists, in fact some the best in the business including Gordon Campbell, Chris Dean, Bobby Lamb, Bill Geldard and Mark Nightingale to play that very arrangement.Derek Boulton then recalled his early meeting with Don and his involvement, as his agent, in the many tours and projects involving Don’s Big Band, who had taken over the Ted Heath Band Book and continued to play the music culminating in the Final Ted Heath Concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 2000. It fell to another Salvationist and trombonist Barry Forgie who then introduced and conducted the Don Lusher Big Band. Barry hails from Peterborough, as indeed did Don and Barry recalled how Don’s trombone skills were being acknowledged amongst his fellow Salvationists even then. The Don Lusher Big Band began their last and final appearance with Don’s own "DL Blues" and his highly successful "Carnaby Chick". Sheila Southern sang a lovely version of"Everytime We Say Goodbye" and the band closed with a rousing version Ray Anthony’s "Mr Anthony’s Boogie". Don’s sons David and Philip thanked everyone for attending.
Gordon Langford then explained how he had worked with Don on the "Rhapsody for Trombone and Brass Band" which Gordon had written for the 1975 Brass Band Championship Gala and an extract from Don’s recording closed the service. It was fitting that a Memorial Fund is being established in Don’s name by the Salvation Army to help disadvantaged youngsters with musical ambitions realise their potential. Don would have approved. Albert Killman
■ 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.
■ Earlier this year we received an e-mail from Mark Sobolev, who introduced himself as a nephew of Monia Liter. He has a fascinating story to tell about the family, especially the period in Shanghai and Russia during the early years of the last century – we hope that his reminiscences can form the basis for a future article about Monia. Mark now lives in Israel, where he is a cellist with the Ashod Chamber Orchestra. Sadly the political situation in the Soviet Union prevented him from ever meeting his famous uncle, although more recently he has performed in London.
■ That great Ray Conniff fan, Manfred Thönicke, published the final printed edition of ‘S Conniff in May. Increasing personal commitments had finally forced Manfred to accept that the work in producing the magazine was becoming too onerous, so Ray’s fans in future will have to rely upon information in several web sites on the internet dedicated to his music. His magazines (which he started in 1981) were always of a high standard, and we are sure that Manfred will continue his appreciation of Ray, using the latest technology now available. We wish him well in his future endeavours.
■ British members may like to know that there is a club devoted to the BBC Concert Orchestra. Since this is the only major BBC orchestra that still performs Light Music, it deserves the support of all of us. For membership details write to: BBC Concert Orchestra Club, PO Box 213, Baldock, SG7 6ZP.
■ Frank Comstock was 18 years only when he joined Benny Carter’s Band, and sat next to J.J. Johnson. Also in the line-up at that time were Gerald Wilson and Snooky Young. Just recently there has been renewed interest in the "Tangence" CD that JJ and Bob made together – resulting in the Grammy for the best orchestral arrangement of xxxx.
■ According to some recent research by RFS member Alan Keeling, two Robert Farnon LPs ("From the Highlands" and "From the Emerald Isle") were used during ITA trade test transmissions in 1960/61. Both these fine LPs are now available on one Vocalion CD – CDLK4100.
■ Alexander Schatte tells us the the correct spelling of the composer of Little Jumping Jack (on Guild GLCD5114) is Ralph Maria Siegel (1911-1971). He wrote this piece (original title Kleiner Hampelmann) in 1941 for the female singer Ilse Werner, and also wrote the lyrics for this popular tune.
■ Brian Henson reports that Nigel Ogden remember Bob Farnon in his BBC Radio-2 programme "The Organist Entertains" on 17 May. Nigel played Journey Into Melody (performed by John Giacchi),How Beautiful is Night (William Davies) and Jumping Bean (Jim Riggs).
■ The next concert by James Beyer and The Edinburgh Light Orchestra will be on 12 November. For more details contact James at 4 St. John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
■ Allan Bula attended the concert on 10 July by The Waldron Light Orchrestra conducted by Herbie Flowers as previewed recently in JIM. The programme included Puffin’ Billy (Edward White)and Jumping Bean – as a tribute to Robert Farnon.
The Memorial Service for Robert Farnon was held on Sunday 24 July at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, attended by many RFS members and celebrities who knew and worked with Bob during his long career. A full report will appear in our next issue. A recording of the proceedings will also be made available to RFS members.
As mentioned in the Editorial, British readers should keep an eye on the television schedules for BBC Four this autumn. Light Music will be featured in at least two programmes – one of them a broadcast of "Friday Night is Music Night" recorded at the Mermaid Theatre on 5 August. John Wilsonconducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in a superb selection of British Light Music – radio listeners to BBC Radio-2 will have heard the entire concert ‘live’, and TV viewers will probably be treated to the highlights in a one-hour show. Also coming up is a special feature about Light Music in the years following World War 2. Andy King-Dabbs is producing what promises to be a fascinating selection of reminiscences, including interviews with Ernest Tomlinson and Trevor Duncan. RFS Secretary David Ades has been helping out with some archive material, and it is possible that Robert Farnonwill be featured in a recording session with George Shearing at the CTS Studios. This comes from RFS Archives, and it is hoped that the necessary permission can be obtained for it to be screened. In our next issue we should be able to give you further information. Although BBC Four is currently only available on digital TV to around 55% of the UK population, the good news is that its programmes are often repeated, so you may be able to watch it more than once!
Be sure to scrutinise Radio 4's schedules for November and December. Producer Jolyon Jenkins is readying an hour long Mantovani programme, tentatively called "The Mantovani Sound" which will probably got out on a Saturday evening around 8 o'clock. These arrangements are, however, subject to change. More news as and when it is available.
Apologies to Miss Poulton!
In Jim Palm’s article "In The Beginning" (JIM 164, page 52) near the foot of column 2 his music teacher’s title is missing (no doubt ‘lost’ in the transfers between computers!). So ‘Poulton’ should read ‘Miss Poulton’. Jim also noticed that the Steel Foundry piece he mentioned was used recently in BBC-1’s "Picture of Britain" series.
Wilfred Askew has noticed a mistake in the date of birth given for Billy Vaughn in the notes for the Guild CD "Travellin’ Light". Billy was born on 12 April 1919, not 1931 as stated in error elsewhere. He died at the age of 72 on 26 September 1991.
A batch of CD releases this summer from Vocalion includes:
CDLK4271 Werner Muller On Broadway / Hawaiian Swing
CDLK4282 Maurice Larcange Paris for Lovers / Avec Moi a Paris
CDLK4299 Ronnie Aldrich All-Time Piano Hits / Melody and Percussion
CDLK4308 George Evans and his Symphony of Saxes Greatest for Dancing – Volumes 1 & 2
CDSA6813 Lance Ellington with John Wilson and his Orchestra Lessons in Love
More details of these, and other new releases from Vocalion, will appear in our next issue.
Our friends in other societies and publications have been generous in their praise of Robert Farnon’s great musical achievements. The Summer Newsletter of The Light Music Society paid a very nice tribute to Bob, and used the photograph from our March issue on their cover. Crescendoalso had a colour photo of Bob on the cover of their June/July issue – the one which was featured on the front page of last December’s JIM. The Cinema Organ Society also praised Bob, describing him as ‘often imitated though seldom equalled’.
RECENT BRITISH DOCUMENTARY FILMS NOW ON DVD
Ray Clark has sent us details of several new releases which will certainly interest members who enjoy vintage documentary films, and the mood music that usually accompanies them. Pride of place must go to a new collection from the British Film Institute called "On and Off The Rails"(BFIVD590). This first volume, on 2 CDs, runs for over 260 minutes, and includes an interesting selection of 14 British Transport Films, with classic titles such as Blue Pullman (music by Clifton Parker), Elizabethan Express, Snowdrift at Bleath Gill and John Betjeman Goes By Train. The dates range from 1951 to 1980, and five films are in colour. The official price is around £20 but you may find it cheaper on the internet.
For an interesting catalogue of vintage films of many types, you may like to contact Panamint Cinema, Abercorn Schoolhouse, Newton, West Lothian, EH52 6PZ, Scotland (telephone 01506 834936, www.panamint.co.uk). "Roundabout – Volume 1" (PDC2015) features a collection of short ‘Cinemagazines’ from 1962-1974 made by Associated British Pathe for the Central Office of Information. These colour shorts have not previously been seen in Britain, because they were made specifically for showing in Australia and South East Asia. The running time is a bit mean at 56 minutes, considering the £20 price tag, but these are very rare films.
■ The North American premiere of Robert Farnon’s Symphony No. 3 is scheduled to take place appropriately in Robert Farnon's homeland, Canada. William Eddins will conduct the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on Sunday 20 November 2005. The concert at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music commences at 2.00pm. As we go to press we understand that the concert will be recorded and subsequently broadcast on CBC Radio in Canada. It should be available worldwide via the internet. Our Canadian representative says that the broadcast is unlikely to happen before December, and he will let us have further details when known. This information will appear in the ‘Latest News’ section of our website.
■ In his September Newsletter to friends of the Edinburgh Light Orchestra, James Beyer included a long and thoughtful appreciation of the premiere of Robert Farnon’s Symphony No. 3 in Edinburgh last May. James also reported on the Memorial Service in London on 24 July, when he spoke eloquently of the way in which Bob’s music was enjoyed by amateur musicians. As we have observed on previous occasions, the good people of Edinburgh are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated champion of Light Music in their midst. Hopefully many of them will have attended the ELO’s recent concert on Saturday 12 November at the Queen’s Hall. For regular information on the orchestra’s concerts, you should contact James Beyer at 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
■ The Robert Farnon Memorial Concert was also well covered in the August /September issue of Crescendo & Jazz Music. Musician Duncan Lamont wrote about the time he had declined a Bob Farnon session, because he felt that a lack of recent experience meant that he might have let Bob down. He talked about "a kind of spirituality about Bob’s recording sessions and he never had to raise his voice. Bob was an extremely kind and thoughtful man but he was, I imagine, extremely complex and that’s where his music comes into its own. Otherwise, it would be just lovely, instead of wonderful". In the same issue Brian Gladwell reported at length about the service itself, and what each of the speakers had said. He concluded: "I never met Robert Farnon, nor had I occasion to speak to him on the phone, but after thus wonderfully uplifting service I felt I knew him".
■ Derek Boulton received a friendly message from Vincent Falcone soon after he learned of Bob’s passing. Vinnie wrote: "Thanks for sending me the picture and memorial booklets. I’m so sorry that I could not see him one more time before his passing. He meant a great deal to me."
■ The September issue of the BBC Music Magazine included an article by Brian Kay called "Let There be Light Music". Brian tied his article in with the BBC Four documentary "Music for Everybody", which he narrated, and covered the Light music scene of around 50 years ago, leading up to today’s revival of interest. He concluded: "…there is more Light Music available today on commercial recordings than there ever was during the supposed ‘golden age’, and this clearly indicates a thirst for it among the record-buying public. Younger listeners are tuning in; where older ones turned away and sought pastures new, they are returning and with the help of those adventurous record companies, and always, hopefully, the BBC, light music at its brightest and best will surely survive well into the 21stcentury".
■ The motto of the Order of Canada is "DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM" - they Desire a Better Country. Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson has announced That Diana Krall has been named Officer of the Order of Canada. She comes from Nanaimo, British Columbia, is one of Canada's most famous musicians. Back in 1997, Diana Krall performed at the special Ottawa concerts in honour of Robert Farnon’s 80th birthday year. Diana joins a growing list of Canada's jazz elite who have been given this country's highest cilvilian honour. The list includes Peter Appleyard (a member of the RFS), Tommy Banks, Guido Basso, Ed Bickert, Charlie Biddle, Jane Bunnett, Terry Clarke, Oliver Jones, Moe Koffman, Fraser MacPherson, Rob McConnell, Phil Nimmons, Oscar Peterson, Doug Riley and Rick Wilkins.
■ On the same evening that BBC Four was showing two memorable programmes about Light Music, at least two excellent concerts were offering the same fare to live audiences. Malcolm Frazer told us about the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth at the Fairfield Concert Hall, Croydon. The concert included Warsaw Concerto (Richard Addinsell), Barwick Geen (Arthur Wood), Westminster Waltz (Robert Farnon), Cornish Rhapsody (Hubert Bath), Devil’s Galop & Rhythm on Rails (Charles Williams), Coronation Scot (Vivian Ellis) plus no less than four works by Eric Coates plus pieces by Malcolm Arnold, Frederick Delius and Benjamin Britten.
■ More light music could be heard at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster on Wednesday 24 August, where a large audience heard Dam Busters (Eric Coates), Belle of the Ball (Leroy Anderson), and aTribute to Robert Farnon (arr. Duthoit) alongside show tunes and ballet music. The conductor of the Merton Concert Band was Martin Bruce, but RFS member Brian Reynolds was persuaded to take the stand to conduct his own Tarantella.
■ There is a special website on the internet where relatives and friends are invited to include their own special messages is remembrance of loved ones who have departed. The site is called ‘Relatives Remembered’ and Robert Farnon is included. You can visit this site at www.relrem.com
■ RFS member David Barton is willing to assist any fellow members wanting information on the existence of sheet music and/or music scores of any genres of music. He has extensive contacts at most publishers, and is experienced in assisting people searching for particular works. You can write to David Barton at: 72 Courtfield Road, Quedgeley, Gloucester, GL2 4UG, ENGLAND; e-mail This helpful service has been mentioned in previous issues of our magazine. David has specially asked us to request that any members sending in handwritten enquiries about sheet music should write clearly. He has recently received several requests that have been almost illegible, requiring additional correspondence to ascertain exactly what is required. If you have a typewriter (or better still a computer) please use it … it makes things so much easier!
■ A number of members have written to express their sadness that other commitments prevented them from attending the Memorial Service to Robert Farnon on 24 July. Typical was a letter from Reg Arthur: "I was lucky to have known Robert Farnon over the years through my association with the BBC in London, where it was my privilege to serve the Radio Orchestra as librarian which splendidly interpreted Bob’s orchestrations on so many memorable occasions over the years. Unfortunately Bob’s visits to the BBC in London were restricted for contractual reasons due to his residence in Guernsey, so the ‘buzz word’ among musicians went around – Bob’s coming over! "
■ During his speech at the Memorial Service, Iain Sutherland said that he was busily trying to raise the necessary funds to cover the expense of making a commercial recording of Robert Farnon’s Symphony No. 3. After the service, Iain was approached by a member of our Society who generously pledged £2000 towards the recording costs. There is no news at present of a likely recording, but this illustrates the extent to which some music lovers are prepared to go to perpetuate the memory of Robert Farnon.
■ Tony Foster has advised us that the July 2005 edition of the Elgar Society newsletter includes an interview with Mike Dutton, in which he talks about his early days in the record business, and what prompted him to set up his own highly praised company Dutton Laboratories.
■ There are two Robert Farnon tracks on a new 2-CD release called "Café London" CAF800153 –Flirtation Walk and Yes We Have No Bananas. Other light orchestras among the 50 tracks include Ron Goodwin (Jet Journey & Skiffling Strings), Stanley Black (Falling in Love with Love & From Here to Eternity), Mantovani (Charmaine & Dancing with Tears in my Eyes), Cyril Stapleton (For Always, Carnavalito & Meet Mr Callaghan), Frank Chacksfield (Limelight & Ebb Tide), and George Melachrino(Cole Porter Fantasy). Vocalists include the ‘usual suspects’ – George Formby, Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields. But mainly it seems to be an instrumental collection, with the likes of Kenny Baker, Joe Loss, Winifred Atwell and Eddie Calvert.
■ The latest issue of The Light Music Society Newsletter (Autumn 2005) carries a forthright message from the Chairman, Ernest Tomlinson, making the case for pressure to be placed on the BBC to increase the amount of air time it allocates to Light Music on the radio. There is also the story of the man who composed the famous ITN signature tune Non Stop. The pseudonym ‘John Malcolm’hides the true identity of John Batt, a successful lawyer. Other features include listings of forthcoming concerts, and news of music played on radio and television. We know that some RFS members wonder if our two societies duplicate the same kind of material in their magazines, but this is rarely the case. Anyone who wants to be kept fully informed of all that is going on in the wide world of Light Music owes it to themselves to belong to both societies!
■ The anagram of "Vivian Ellis’s Coronation Scot" is: Violins in octaves; train's cool. It’s amazing what you find on the internet!
New Mantovani Biography
Mantovani - A Lifetime in Music by Colin MacKenzie has just been published by MelroseBooks (Book Sales), St Thomas Place, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4GG (tel +44 (0) 1353 646608) on the occasion of the centenary of Mantovani's birth on 15th November 1905.
Their e-mail address is and their website is
www.,melrosebooks.com. This is a 352 page deluxe hardback, telling the full
story of Mantovani's remarkable musical career plus much else besides. There
are about 80 photographs integrated into the text, many of which have not
been previously seen. The book can be ordered direct from Melrose at £18.99
or US $29.99. The UK postage rate is £2 per book, plus £1 for each additional
copy, Europe is £3 (or $6), USA £4 (or $8) per book, plus $2 for each
additional copy. The ISBN No. is 1 905226 19 5. The book should also be
available online and at UK retail outlets.
The Christmas releases from Mike Dutton’s Vocalion label offer some great ideas for presents (to oneself?). Full track-listing details were not available as we went to press, but the following list will give you a good idea of what’s on offer:
CDLK4300 Franck Pourcel Thinking of You / The Importance of your Love
CDLK4302 Ron Goodwin In Concert / Plays Burt Bacharach
CDLK4306 Pepe Jaramillo Moonlight in Mexico / Meets Manuel
CDLK4309 Ted Heath Salutes Tommy Dorsey & Benny Goodman
CDLK4310 Edmundo Ros Ros Remembers
CDLK4312 Ted Heath Decca Singles and Rarities – Volume 3
CDLK4316 Ronnie Aldrich Where The Sun Is / For Young Lovers
CDLK4317 Mantovani All American Showcase
CDLK4319 Kenneth McKellar The Tartan / Scottish Saturday Night
CDLK4320 Mantovani Evening with Mantovani / More Mantovani Magic
CDLK4322 Frank Chacksfield Film Festival (this includes Robert Farnon’s ‘Irena’ from "Shalako") / King of Kings
CDLK4323 Stanley Black Blockbusters from Broadway / Broadway Spectacular
CDEA6110 Geraldo Parlophone compilation
CDVS1945 Harry James Trumpet Time
Sheet Music of Robert Farnon’s compositions
The Secretary is receiving an increasing number of requests for sheet music of Light Music compositions by Robert Farnon and other composers. This is sometimes required for concert performances, or simply to play on the piano at home. Kindly note that the RFS does not supply sheet music.
Many publishers now contract out their music libraries to specialist companies, so it is often difficult to know who to approach. In the case of Robert Farnon, the following addresses may be helpful:
Caroline Underwood, Warner Chappell Music Group Ltd., The Warner Building, 28 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4EP – telephone 0207 938 0000; fax 0207 368 2777.
This is the Music Vault, Griffin House, 161 Hammersmith Road, London, W6 8BS – telephone 0208 222 9210 (ask for Vicky in Archives).
Concord Music Hire Library, 5 Bushley Close, Old Barn Lane, Kenley, Surrey, CR8 5AU – telephone 0208 660 4766; fax 0208 668 5273.
The Light Music Society Library, Lancaster Farm, Chipping Lane, Longridge, Preston, PR3 2NB – telephone 01772 783646; fax 01772 786026.
Naturally all these organisations will make a charge for hiring out music.FS member David Barton is willing to assist any fellow members wanting information on the existence of sheet music and/or music scores of any genres of music. He has extensive contacts at most publishers, and is experienced in assisting people searching for particular works. You can write to David Barton at: 72 Courtfield Road, Quedgeley, Gloucester, GL2 4UG, ENGLAND; e-mail If sending in a request in handwriting, please ensure that your requirements are written clearly.
Brian Neal owns a Blüthner Grand Piano which was formerly the proud possession of the composer Lambert Williamson. Before that it was the property of Victor Hely Hutchinson – probably during World War 2 around the time when he was Head of Music at the BBC.
Robert Walton recently discovered that Philip Buchel (co-composer with Robert Farnon of Jockey on the Carousel and Winter Jasmine (featured on the new "Showcase for Soloists" CD) played alto sax with Spike Hughes’s DeccaDents. Hughes himself was a jazz bassist and arranger, and another notable member of the same group was trumpeter Max Goldberg. Philip Buchel was also a talented tap-dancer; he and his wife Betty choreographed several British musicals, including "Spring in Park Lane" and "Maytime in Mayfair".
RFS member Johnny McLain is still succeeding in getting his new works published. Recent settings to poems include Mamble by John Drinkwater (1882-1937); Adlestrop by Edward Thomas (1878-1917); and I Came To Oxford by Gerald Gould (1885-1936). These pieces are being published by Westerleigh Publications (based in Devon) under the collective title ‘Three Places in Old England’. If any readers would like more information about Johnny’s music, they are welcome to write to him at: 42 Osidge Lane, Southgate, London, N14 5JG.
Towards the end of this year Sigmund Groven will be releasing a new CD of harmonica music, in which he is accompanied by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra Conducted by John Wilson. We look forward to giving you more details in a future issue.
Charles Prior heard On a Spring Note by Sidney Torch on a US radio commercial for Walgreens (a drugstore chain) last year. He also spotted Champagne March in a documentary about Cedar Point, an Ohio amusement park.
Frank Comstock keeps an eye on the jazz column in a local California paper The Orange County Register. When Billy May died, Steve Eddy wrote that he was the last of Sinatra’s arrangers. David Ades sent him an e-mail, which resulted in the following note a few weeks later: "Who says the Register doesn’t cross the ocean? The Robert Farnon Society’s David Ades gently took me to task (as only Brits can do) for saying in a Billy May obit that he was ‘the last surviving member of Frank Sinatra’s exclusive club of musical arrangers’. Ades rightfully pointed out that Farnon is still with us and active at age 86. And, while they weren’t as associated with Sinatra as May, Nelson Riddle and some others, you can add at least a couple of others who penned charts for Blue Eyes, and are still alive and kicking – Neal Hefti and Quincy Jones."
Franck Leprince has been keeping very busy as a professional violinist since he left the Army. This April he played at a Wigmore Hall concert as a member of ‘Ensemble – Inconstantes’ under the baton of Alan Danson, which featured the violinist Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne (former BBC Young Musician of the Year, and also BBC Radio-2 Young Musician 2000), and the soprano Hasmik Papian. Franck tells us that he gets little chance to play light music these days, although he is involved with a group of four musicians including the fine pianist and RFS member Elaine Korman, who has recently retired from the English National Opera. They perform "An Evening of Popular Classics" about once a month at various venues in the South West of England, and their repertoire includes pieces from the 1920s and 1930s – and even the 1950s!
From time to time we are asked about certain ‘big names’ in the music world, who have very little written about them on the internet. Often it is virtually impossible to discover what they are doing and if, in fact, they are still active musically. Such a ‘name’ is Tutti Camarata, so we were pleased to find a recent piece about him in Encore, that interesting monthly magazine aimed at professionals in the theatre. Recently Camarata received a Disney Legend Award from Walt Disney’s son. It will be remembered that Camarata first came to our attention in England in the 1940s when he was engaged by J. Arthur Rank to work on the musical "London Town" which featured the Ted Heath Orchestra and many leading British stars of the time. The film flopped, but Camarata stayed behind in England to work at Decca and set up London Records in the USA. Eventually he returned to the USA, and joined Disney, making a success of their record label. Today, with his son Paul, he runs Sunset Sound Studios in Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, and is still very active despite reaching 90 years of age. Some of his recordings from over 50 years ago are starting to appear in the new Guild Light Music series of CDs.
Don’t forget that our website is one of the facilities offered to you as a member of the RFS. You are encouraged to visit us regularly at www.rfsoc.org.uk and specifically we recommend you to check the Latest News section of the RFS Information page to see if there are any important announcements.
If you are on the internet, do visit the ‘Links’ page on our website regularly. This is continually being updated by Chris Landor, and just recently he has come across some very interesting places for you to visit.
Hans-Andreas Winkler has set up an internet website in honour of his late father, the German composer Gerhard Winkler (1906-1977). Although presently only in German, it is well worth a visit and you can hear two recordings of one of his best-known songs "Capri-Fischer". Of course his biggest international success was "Answer Me". www.capri-fischer.de
Alan Nuttall and the Hale Light Orchestra presented ‘A Springtime Festival of Light Orchestral Music’ in Altrincham, Cheshire on 28 March reports David Mardon. The concert included many familiar favourites such as In Party Mood (Jack Strachey), Shortcake Walk (Sidney Torch), Puffin’ Billy(Edward White) and Ronald Hanmer’s arrangement of Mexican Hat Dance.
Ray Clark has alerted us to some recent interesting documentaries on video from Beulah and other companies. There are also plans for some classic British Transport Films shorts to appear on DVD later this year. Ray points out that the quality on DVD is often better than on video, so it may be worth while waiting for forthcoming DVD releases in some cases. Here are some recent releases that Ray recommends:
Capital Transport [Yesterday’s Britain] No. 31 – Beulah YB31 (send for their catalogue - Beulah, 66 Rochester Way, Crowborough, East Sussex, TN6 2DU); Holidays on Wheels – promotional films from the 1950s for Wallace Arnold coaches (telephone orders on 01624 640000); Look At Life – The 1960s, another 6 films from this well remembered Rank Organisation cinema series available on video and DVD (Video 125, PO Box 81, Ascot, SL5 9TC – tel. 01344 628565); Those Were The Days – Pathe Newsreels from various decades, issued on both video and DVD (widely available through retailers); Northumberland in 1953 – a Northern Heritage production featuring a BTF film on rural life including footage not included in the original film (order by Freephone 0800 716959). All these films make full use of contemporary mood music from the likes of Chappell, Boosey & Hawkes etc.
The clarinettist, saxophonist and singer Gerry Ozarow, born on 18 December 1922, died on 1 February 2004 writes Sunil Hiranandani. In a Nostalgia article ‘Life Was Funny Sometimes’ Gerry described himself as the poor man’s Charlie Ventura or, on a good night, the poor man’s Illinois Jacquet. He remembered doing a version of Roses of Picardy which turned into Roses of Jeopardywhen the trumpeter’s mute dropped out! He recalled one musician doing an impression of the bandleader, at which the bandleader walked in and said: "this is my impression of you getting the sack!" His early career found him in the bands of Billy Merrin, Billy Bevan and Lou Preager, playing in locations like the Cumberland Hotel, where Joan Collins was waiting on tables.