Voyage of a Lifetime

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A new CD featuring one of England’s top composers

Click to enlargeJOHN FOX: "Voyage of a Lifetime"

The Campion record label is establishing itself as a major source of new recordings of Light Music through its British Composer Series. Readers will be aware that previous offerings have included Paul Lewis, Bill Worland and Matthew Curtis, and the spotlight has now deservedly fallen on John Fox.

JOHN FOX: "Voyage of a Lifetime" Voyage of a Lifetime, Scarborough Fair, *Jovial Knights Overture, *Suite – ‘Love Of Joy’, Love Walked In, Safe Grazing, Billy Boy, She Moved Through The Fair, Suite – ‘Earth and Space’, *Society Waltz, Melodic Panorama, Danny Boy, London Pride – selection. *new recordings by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by Gavin Sutherland [other tracks conducted by John Fox]. Campion CAMEO 2050, 78:27 mins.

RFS members who attend our London Meetings will have had the pleasure of meeting John Fox on many occasions. In recent years several of his compositions have been included in various compilations of Light Music, and he has often introduced them personally to us. Now we are delighted to say that there is a new CD devoted entirely to his work featuring major orchestral works alongside tasteful arrangements for the John Fox Singers. Also there are two tracks sung by John’s wife Joy Devon, whose tragic death in August 2004 was reported in our magazine last year.

Joy was a lovely lady with a beautiful voice. Her passing deeply affected John, but once he recovered from the initial shock of losing her he decided that he must create a suite of music dedicated to her fond memory. The result is a moving suite which John has appropriately called "Love of Joy". It was recorded in London last winter, and the superb performance by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia under the sensitive conducting of Gavin Sutherland (who knew Joy well) has resulted in one of the finest works that any composer could ever write in memory of someone so deeply loved.

Each movement relates to a period of their life together: First Meeting, Those Warm Summer Days, In A Mad Rush, Waltz For Joy, Siesta In Puerto Pollensa, The Blue-eyed Mackenzie Lass, Our Garden Of Memories and Three White Doves. Perhaps the most poignant part of the suite is the final movement. It marks the time of Joy’s last battle with cancer in a hospice at Esher; in her final moments two white doves appeared at the window in her room, to be joined by a third who stood between them. This scene had a deep effect on John and the others present and represented peace and calm after much suffering. Appropriately the following track on the CD is John’s glorious arrangement of Love Walked In which Joy sings so tenderly.

The other major suite is "Earth And Space"; in his notes, Philip Lane explains that the first of the six movements paints a picture of space as close to silence as any music can legitimately be, before moving on to the countdown and lift-off of a spaceship. After encountering aliens and evil forces, the suite ends with the peaceful Visions. BBC Radio-2 listeners may recall Melodic Panorama which was used as the signature tune for ‘The Musical World of John Fox’ programmes.

John confesses to his love for his birthplace, London, and the magnificent finale of the CD is his arrangement of Noel Coward’s "London Pride" for singers and orchestra which includes snippets of many other songs associated with the capital.

This is certainly one of the top CDs of the year. Whether composing, arranging, conducting or playing the piano (he duets with Joy on Danny Boy), John Fox always displays musicianship of the highest standards. We are so lucky to know him and his wonderful music.

David Ades

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