Dateline September 2007
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.