The Robert Farnon Society’s Autumn 2012 London Meeting
A Report by Brian Reynolds
Sunday 14th of October had arrived and it was time for our biannual wallow in the wide range of melodic music with which many of us grew up, and which the BBC seems to think isn't wanted anymore! How wrong they are!
As usual, David Ades and Albert Killman welcomed us to 'The Bonnington' and started the ball rolling with Overture for Pia Zadora. This was arranged by Robert Farnon in the mid-eighties with a view to it being used at Pia's concerts. This was followed by The End of a Love Affair/How About Me, again arranged by Bob for Pia.
We then heard My Kind of Town featuring the Robert Farnon orchestra from the Vocalion re-issue 'The Hits of Sinatra'. This was followed by Beautiful Things sung by Tony Bennett. This was arranged by Bob for a film about Italy and was recorded in 1968. However the film was never made!
The last few meetings of our society have been some of the best we've ever had, so it is disappointing that attendances have dropped by some 25%. Of course there may be good reasons for this - the increased cost of travel and the fact that our predominately mature membership are not getting any younger are obvious factors. However, the costs of hiring a room and providing basic refreshments do not reduce. The committee have deliberately avoided increasing admission charges in these somewhat austere times, so members present were requested to fill in a questionnaire detailing various options. These included the options of reducing our meetings to one a year, hiring a smaller room within the hotel or finding a cheaper venue. A vigorous debate ensued and, as you were told in the previous journal, members voted to retain the status quo. So, it's back to the drawing board.
Following this debate, which probably took up more time than was expected, we resumed our music with some new releases. First came a Dolf van der Linden composition Cab Rank from Guild GLCD 5197 " Melody Mixture". This was followed by a medley from John Wilson's orchestra, "Rodgers and Hammerstein at the Movies", recorded at Abbey Road, Studio 2.
The Guild light music series has recently reached its landmark 100th CD (an amazing achievement) and we listened to two of the tracks. Firstly, we heard one of Bob's early pieces Stringtime played by his orchestra and then the Jack Hylton orchestra playing a 1929 recording of Ernie Golden'sToymaker's Dream. Next came a piece by Johnny Mandel, The Shining Sea played by the Frank Cordell orchestra with Don Lusher as the trombone soloist. This was from one of two Cordell LPs recently re-issued by Mike Dutton. This was followed by Bert Barnes's Dainty Miss played by Harold Collins and his orchestra, from the Guild CD "Light music While You Work - Volume 4".
Part one of the programme concluded with David Farnon's Gibson's March (recorded for the Carlin Library).
Suitably refreshed, we welcomed to the platform, our special guest for the afternoon, Iain Sutherland, making a return visit to us by popular demand. David Ades introduced him and played his marchEdinburgh Castle after which Iain told us that this was written as an 'opener' for concerts, way back in the sixties. It is well-known known that Iain conducted the premiere of Robert Farnon's 3rd Symphony. When it was being rehearsed Iain maintained a constant telephone link with Bob, who was ill and confined to bed. By this means Iain ensured that his interpretation of the work was exactly the way Bob wanted it. We then listened to the first movement. Unfortunately the premiere with Iain conducting was not recorded, so the version we heard came from a Canadian broadcast of the north American premiere.This was followed by Iain's recording of Hamish MacCunn's Land of the Mountain and the Flood, perhaps better known as the theme to Sutherland's Law. I well remember attending a "Music While You Work" broadcast in 1983 in which Iain included this piece, and I could not help noticing that the orchestral parts had been altered to read "Iain Sutherland's Law"! Next, we heard Ernest Tomlinson's famous Little Serenade from a CD of the Iain Sutherland Concert Orchestra.
On Iain's previous visit, he told us that he had played for some of the world's most famous classical conductors such as Klemperer, Boult and Sargent. However, he developed an affinity for light music during the early sixties playing for the likes of Raymond Agoult, Bernard Monshin and others - in "Music While You Work" for which only the finest session players were acceptable.
It was now time to hear another of Iain's own compositions.This one was written over fifty years ago and entitled Here's to Holidays; it was played by the Symphonia Orchestra conducted by Curt Anderson, and is the title track of a Guild CD due to be released in May or June this year. This was followed by two pieces from a recent Iain Sutherland CD - Playful Scherzo by Peter Hope and Covent Garden by Eric Coates.
David Ades then asked Iain if he could recall his first broadcast as a conductor and Iain explained that he had been approached by the BBC's Head of Light Music, Andrew Gold, who being aware that Iain had conducting experience, asked him if he would like to do a 'Music While You Work', guest-conducting the BBC Scottish Variety Orchestra. The resident conductor, Jack Leon was close to retirement, so Andrew Gold probably saw Iain as a possible successor, which indeed was what transpired. At that point, to Iain's amazement, David Ades played him part of the actual broadcast - the signature tune Calling All Workers and the opening number Viva Villa by Jack Leon. I have to say that this was a 'set up' between David Ades and myself, as I happen to possess this recording! I was then invited to formally present the recording to Iain.
Iain spent seven years in Scotland as conductor of the Scottish Variety Orchestra (which he renamed Scottish Radio Orchestra) and later conducted the London-based BBC Radio Orchestra, as well as countless appearances in 'Friday Night is Music Night', conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Iain's part of the programme was completed with his own arrangement of a selection from Me and My Girl. I think we all felt that asking Iain Sutherland back had been very worthwhile!
Iain then assisted with the raffle before we took our second break.
We returned to our seats to the accompaniment of John Williams' Olympic Fanfare and Theme, in celebration of his 80th birthday.
Vernon Anderson then came to the stage to talk about the career of Dudley Moore. He played us excerpts from a two-CD set of a concert in Sydney on 2nd. May 1968. Dudley Moore introduced it and we heard the Dudley Moore Trio play Rainy Day. This was followed by what might be described as a comedy madrigal. We listened to Die Flabergast in which Dudley sang as a soprano, and Richard Rodgers Lover played in the style of Errol Garner, but including quotes from the works of classical composers. Next came Strictly for the Birds and to conclude, the inevitable Goodbye with which Dudley often ended his shows with Peter Cook.
David then played us When Sunny Gets Blue with the Robert Farnon Orchestra. This came from the 'Vocalion' re-issue "Portrait of Johnny Mathis"
It was now time for my 'Radio Recollections' feature in which I play vintage recordings from the days when the BBC took light music seriously. I began with a march called The London Scottish (Haines) played by Ronnie Munro and his Orchestra. This gave me the opportunity to mention a new CD with which I have been involved called 'Music While You Work - vol.3', which contains this, and 27 other 'off-air' excerpts from the series. The CD is available from Frank Bristow in Australia and is (hopefully) reviewed elsewhere in the magazine. I then featured the Band of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps playing a composition of my own called Regency Rumba. I continued with pianist Maurice Arnold and his Sextet playing the curiously titled Bossa Nova Minus One, composed by Maurice Arnold himself. This was followed by Sydney Del Monte's often broadcast Bows and Bellsperformed by Ralph Elman and his Bohemian Players. Time was now marching on and I had to omit the final piece which I will play next time.
At this point Albert Killman paid tribute to David Ades for the amazing achievement of over 100 light music CDs on the Guild Label. Of course, no such tribute would be complete without acknowledging the enormous part played by Alan Bunting, in remastering thousands of recordings!
We then heard a BBC transcription disc from about 1949. This was Robert Farnon's arrangement ofNight and Day played by Bob's orchestra, with vocals from Kathryn Oldfield and Denny Vaughan.
To conclude we listened to part of Bob's Nautical Trilogy, conducted on this Carlin recording by David Farnon. It brought to an end a most satisfying afternoon of music. Roll on May!
Although I had been familiar with the name of Iain Sutherland since his conducting debut on radio in the mid-sixties, it wasn't until the BBC revived 'Music While You Work' in the
early eighties that I got to meet him - and attend four of his broadcasts. I well recall that he showed me a book containing requests from listeners, from which he was selecting pieces for each broadcast. The producer was the late Charles Clark-Maxwell and I remember that on one occasion, he called out over the loudspeaker "Could you record 'Elizabethan Serenade' again Iain - I want to put a fade-out ending on it". Horrified - I instinctively caught Iain's eye, waved furiously at him, mouthing "No! No! No!". Iain immediately turned to the microphone saying "No thank you Charles - I'm quite satisfied with it as it is!" I must say, that as a mere mortal, I was quite pleased to have had so much influence!
On another occasion, having just rehearsed Haydn Wood's 'Montmartre', Iain turned to his leader saying "Bet you haven't heard that in twenty years!" The leader said " No - but it's very nice". Responding, Iain boomed "Of course it's nice, light music is nice!"
Iain has kindly provided the society a resume of his quite extensive career. So here it is:
IAIN SUTHERLAND, during his 40 year association with the BBC, was Principal Conductor of the BBC Radio Orchestra in London, the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra, and the Guest Conductor of the award winning "Friday Night is Music Night" with the BBC Concert Orchestra. He appeared twice at the Edinburgh International Festival with the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra, and on numerous occasions at the BBC International Festival of Light Music with both the BBC Radio Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra, at the Royal Festival Hall.He was also Principal Conductor of the City of Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra , and has appeared as a Guest Conductor with:-
London Symphony Orchestra; Philharmonia Orchestra; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; Halle Orchestra; City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; English Chamber Orchestra; Ulster Orchestra; English Haydn Orchestra; Scottish Festival Orchestra; Slovak Philharmonic; Brazilian National Symphony; Capetown Philharmonic; Graz Symphony; Dessau Philharmonic; Maribor Philharmonic; NDR Hanover Philharmonic; Flemish Radio Philharmonic; Aalborg Symphony; Belgian Radio Philharmonic; Norwegian Radio Orchestra; Danish Radio Orchestra; Promenade and Metropole Orchestras of Netherlands Radio; Munich Radio Orchestra; Kaiserslautern Radio Orchestra ; National Youth Orchestra of Scotland; National Youth Orchestra of Norway; Orchestra of the National Centre for Orchestral Studies in London.
International soloists with whom Iain Sutherland has performed include:-
Peter Auty; Larry Adler; Moira Anderson: Nicola Benedetti; Malcolm Bilson; Angela Brownridge; Sarah Brightman; Isobel Buchanan; Ronald Brautigam; Robert Cohen; Helga Dernesch; Maria Ewing; Michael Feinstein; James Galway; Evelyn Glennie; Chloe Hanslip; Nigel Kennedy; Katia and Marielle Lebeque; Julian Lloyd-Webber; Tasmin Little; Benjamin Luxon; Kenneth McKellar: Murray McLachlan; Sherrill Milnes; Julia Migenes; Dennis O’Neill; Joshua Rifkin; Crispian Steele-Perkins; George Shearing; Mel Torme ;Robert Tear; Willard White; Robert White; John Wallace.
Iain Sutherland’s repertoire encompasses baroque, classical, romantic and contemporary works, as well as the repertoire of Vienna, Hollywood, Broadway and International Light Music. He also appears regularly at the English Haydn Festival with the period instrument English Haydn Orchestra:-
"...................but surely the high spot was the performance of the rare symphony no.62 in D. The splendidly clear account under Iain Sutherland showed it to be the equal of any of its period".
Haydn Society Journal.2004.
He has conducted many choral/orchestral concerts, and gave two performances of Britten’s "War Requiem" in Bratislava with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus under the auspices of the British Council. On 7th. July 2006,the first anniversary of the "7/7"terrorist attack on London, he was invited to conduct the "Requiem" by Mozart, with the London Orpheus Chorus and Philharmonic Orchestra in a memorial concert at St. Bottolph’s in the City.
Premieres he has conducted include the Mike Oldfield/David Bedford symphonic version of "Tubular Bells", with Steve Hillage as soloist, a milestone in the annals of rock music (1976); the arrangement for massed brass bands of Elgar’s "Enigma Variations" by Eric Ball at the Royal Albert Hall(1986); Malcolm Arnold’s "Irish Dances" in London(1988); "Movimentos para Don Jose Haydn" by Rene Staar in Graz(1995); "Etude for Orchestra" by Edward Harper in Edinburgh (2000); "Rhapsody Brasilieras" by Ney Rosauro in Rio(2001); Robert Farnon’s Symphony no.3 (Edinburgh) in 2005, in Edinburgh.
Recordings : three new albums released in Summer 2012; "The Merrymakers: British Light Classics" with the Iain Sutherland Concert Orchestra on Alto Records and "In London Town: A musical tour of the historic sights of London" with the Philharmonic Concert Orchestra on the Somm label; both were awarded the accolade of being chosen as Featured Album of the Week by Classic FM, and "Scotland’s Tunes of Glory" on the Delta label, with the City of Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra, Pipes and Drums and Chorus. Four albums, "The Classics Collection", (Great Scottish Classics/ Irish/Viennese/ Christmas) on the REL label; each is a compilation taken from the "live" broadcasts of Iain Sutherland’s "Pops at the Philharmonic" concerts at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall with the City of Glasgow Philharmonic Orchestra:
"....................with such marvellous programmes, orchestra and conductor, no wonder the City of Glasgow Phil’s concerts are sell outs".
Other recordings include the "Schindler’s List" theme with Tasmin Little and the New World Philharmonic Orchestra : "Simply Maria" with Maria Ewing, "Waltzing in the Clouds" (the music of Robert Stolz),with Julia Migenes and Sebastian Rheintaller and "Celebrating the Great Musicals", all with the BBC Concert Orchestra on BBC Records: Shaun Davey’s celtic epic "The Pilgrim" on Tara Records . Three concept albums, "Phytandros", "The Last Opera" and "Free yourself" for the multi-million selling French contemporary-romantic composer Saint-Preux, on Sony, recorded at Abbey Road Studios with London’s greatest session orchestras; all of the above are available at Amazon.
Iain Sutherland was Musical Director for a series of BBC radio recordings of classic musicals: "Guys and Dolls", "Finian’s Rainbow", "My Fair Lady", "The Music Man", Kiss Me Kate", "Sweet Charity" and Stephen Sondheim’s legendary "Follies", which was recorded at a Gala concert at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which the composer attended. All-star casts for these recordings included:- John Barrowman, Tom Conti, Mary Carew, Anita Dobson, Jim Dale, Marilyn Hill Smith, Bonnie Langford, Julia Migenes, Julia McKenzie, Ron Moody, Donna McKechnie, Claire Moore, Milo O’Shea, Denis Quilley, Elizabeth Seal. For NDR Hanover he recorded Bernstein’s "Candide" and "West Side Story" with the NDR Philharmonic and Principal Artists of Hanover Opera. He was also Musical Director of many long running BBC TV shows . In London’s West End, he was Musical Director of Meredith Wilson’s "The Music Man" starring Van Johnson and Noel Coward’s "Sail Away" starring Elaine Stritch. His "Pops at the Philharmonic" concerts and appearances at the Summer Proms at Kenwood House, Glamis Castle and other Stately Homes around the UK, are popular not only for his choice of repertoire, but also for his informal yet informative introductions.
".................so smooth and mellow is conductor Iain Sutherland that, whatever the music, he usually manages to steal the show".
He has been honoured to conduct for many Royal Charity concerts, including the Royal Variety Show, and personally organised a series of Supper Concerts on the theme of Music and Verse, in the presence of the Royal Patrons of the charities concerned, at St. James’ Palace and the Banqueting Hall of Whitehall Palace. Along with the English Chamber Orchestra, distinguished artists who took part included the Lord Attenborough, Dame Judi Dench, Robert Hardy OBE, Hannah Gordon, Sir Ben Kingsley, Joanna Lumley and Timothy West CBE.
Iain Sutherland has taken part in many varied radio and TV programmes including the panel game, "Call My Bluff". He has also spoken at the Oxford Union. He has served on the board of the Performing Artists Media Rights Association (PAMRA); as Warden of the Performers and Composers section of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM); on the Central Music Advisory Committee of the BBC; the Council of the British Academy of Songwriters , Composers and Authors (BASCA): on the Music Writer’s Section of the Musicians’ Union (MU), and is a Patron of the Young Persons Concert Foundation. He is a member of the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain and is Hon. Vice-President of the Clan Sutherland Society, and a Companion of the Television and Radio Industries Club in recognition of his services to broadcasting.
IAIN SUTHERLAND was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 18 May 1936, and is a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). His principal instrument was the violin which he studied under Prof. Horace Fellowes in Glasgow and under Prof. Sacha Lasserson in London, leading to a highly successful career as an orchestral and studio session violinist, playing with the great London symphony orchestras under the greatest conductors of the era such as Klemperer, Boult, Sargent, Solti and Groves, and in the film, recording and TV studios, before his own appointment as Conductor of the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra.
This report first appeared in ‘Journal Into Melody’, issue 195 dated April 2013.