Report on the Autumn Event of the London Light Music Meetings Group - October 8th 2017

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The Autumn Event of the London Light Music Meetings Group - October 8th 2017
The Autumn Event of the London Light Music Meetings Group - October 8th 2017

Tony Clayden welcomed us once again to the Lancaster Hall Hotel and opened the programme with Robert Farnon's Country Boy featuring vocalist Sheila Southern, with Bob conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. This was particularly appropriate, as Sheila was with us in the audience.

We stayed with Farnon and his own orchestra for Manhattan Serenade and followed it with Pizzicato Humoresque by Ernest Tomlinson, played by the Reginald Kilbey orchestra. After this came a lively tune from the sixties, Suku Suku, featuring the orchestra of the noted arranger and conductor Geoff Love [also known under the name of 'Manuel and his Music of the Mountains'] – in commemoration of his 100th anniversary, which falls this year.

Tony then handed over to Anthony Wills to give us an extended presentation on the Hollywood arranger Conrad Salinger.

Anthony told us that the famous opening bars of Singing in the Rain had ensured Salinger's place in America's popular music history, so he played it in an arrangement that coupled it with You Are My Lucky Star. We then heard Judy Garland sing Love Of My Life which was intended to be used in a film called 'The Pirate' - but sadly ended up on the cutting room floor!

From 'An American in Paris' we heard Gene Kelly and Georges Guetary – accompanied by Johnny Green and the MGM Studio Orchestra – performing ‘s Wonderful. This was followed by a song from 'The Band Wagon' entitled By Myself featuring Fred Astaire. 1954 saw the release of 'Brigadoon', and from that show we heard The Heather On The Hill sung by Gene Kelly. Anthony then turned to the musical 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' and we heard Wonderful Wonderful Day sung by Jane Powell.

The next 'gem from the silver screen' to be discussed was 'Kismet', which was released in 1955. This highly acclaimed production featured re-workings of themes written by the Russian late- romantic composer Alexander Borodin. We heard Night Of My Nights performed by Vic Damone with the MGM Studio Chorus, the Musical Director being Andre Previn. This was followed by Say A Prayer For Me Tonight, (from the film 'Gigi'), sung by Betty Wand – dubbing Leslie Caron, who apparently could not sing! The song had originally been intended to be sung in 'My Fair Lady'.

Finally, Anthony played Little Girl Blue, sung by Doris Day. This song was completed just before Salinger sadly took his own life in 1962 – a tragic end to the life of a musical genius, who – having studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris – originally had his sights on becoming a 'serious' composer, but went on to enjoy a highly successful career as arguably the finest arranger of his generation.

On that cheerful note we went to tea!

Opening part two, Tony told us about a forthcoming Vocalion CD featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Gavin Sutherland, performing a group of light orchestral works by Haydn Wood; several of these will appearing on record for the first time.

The sessions took place at the Watford Coliseum at the end of August. We heard the original Chappell version of Wellington Barracks from the London Snapshots Suite, and this suite will be included on the CD, which it is hoped will be released in the spring of 2018.

Tony then talked about the Light Music content on internet radio. Angel Radio transmit three authentic editions of 'Music While You Work' every week at 12.15pm (Friday), 6.55am (Saturday) and 3.50am (Thursday). They also broadcast 'Those Were the Days' with Harry Davidson's orchestra on Sundays at 4.30pm (repeated at 4.30am on Thursdays, for the night owls!)

Serenade Radio broadcasts 60 minutes of unannounced Light Music between 6.00 and 7.00am most mornings, and at 10.00pm on Sunday has a wonderful two hour show called 'The Light Programme' featuring all that lovely tuneful music that the BBC thinks nobody wants! It is presented and produced by a stalwart supporter of the LLMMG, David Corbett, who was also present at the meeting.

André Leon came to the table to talk about South African radio and, in particular Lourenço Marques Radio, where he started his career in broadcasting in 1963.

He recalled two legendary presenters on the station, including Gerry Wilmot and David Davies who was famous for his "grrreeetings" whenever he came on air!

Andre attended LM Radio’s Gauteng Medium Wave re-launch in South Africa (as "LifetimeMusic Radio") in June this year, and his three one- hour tribute programmes will recall the Golden Sounds of the 1960's. The shows are scheduled from November 5th 2017 and to be followed by a six-part documentary series introduced by Chris Turner.

André continued by recalling Paul Hollingdale with whom he collaborated in the recent tribute to the BBC Light Programme. Sadly, Paul died before completing the feature, but his contribution was included in the programme.

[I also took part in the broadcast, but, most regrettably, my contribution was heavily (and clumsily) edited before transmission]

André then spoke about Classic FM and expressed fond memories of Michael Bukht and the station’s early days.

He concluded with a piece by Victor Young, the Prelude from the 1953 'Western' film "Shane".

We then came to my 'Radio Recollections' which, due to time constraints, had to be somewhat truncated. The first few items were by musical combinations in which the late Gordon Langford was the pianist, the first being Harold Geller's Green Cockatoo - a Langford arrangement, played by Lou Whiteson and the Southern Serenade Orchestra. This was followed by Lew Stone and his band withSerenade To A Wealthy Widow by Reginald Forsythe. This tune was a big hit for Stone in the thirties. We then heard Lew Stone and his sextet with a piece calledBacciar, Bacciar. Turning then to Ken Beaumont and his sextet (a group which did hundreds of broadcasts) for a medley of traditional tunes: La Golandrina, Shortnin' Bread, Tom Dooley, The Caviare Song and The Girl I Left Behind Me.

We then heard Eddie Strevens (violin and saxophone) and his Quartet playing Moonlight And Roses, Love Is The Sweetest Thing and The Melody Lingers On.

My final item had no connection with Gordon Langford, but was in honour of the Light Music Society which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2017. Its founder was Harry Dexter whose Frankfurt Polka concluded my presentation.

It was then the turn of Steven Wills to present. He commenced with an up-tempo version of Isle of Capri featuring the Johnny Burt Strings. This was from an early 1960s recording from the Canadian Talent Library. We then heard Colin Berry in 'The Breakfast Show' and a performance of Imogene from Norrie Paramor and the BBC Midland Radio orchestra. This was followed by Peter Hope's Music Box Waltz from the Raphael Concert Orchestra directed by Les Reed, andBarcarolle from the 'Tales of Hoffman' (Offenbach), taken from a German Radio recording conducted by Heinz Keissling. Steven concluded with the theme from the Somerset Maugham TV series - played by the Cyril Stapleton band.

In part three of our event, we welcomed the Martin Cleave Palm Court Trio, who gave a wonderful performance of some favourite light music compositions. They were as follows:

Arranged by Martin Cleave

DOWN IN ZANZIBAR (Charles Ancliffe)
Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 2 (Boosey & Hawkes, 2000)

SALUT D’AMOUR (Edward Elgar)

DEMANDE ET RESPONSE (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor)
Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 2 (Boosey & Hawkes, 2000)

JEALOUSY (Jacob Gade)
Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 1 (Boosey & Hawkes, 1997)

SHY SERENADE (George Scott-Wood)
Arranged by Martin Cleave

Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 1 (Boosey & Hawkes, 1997)

DEMOISELLE CHIC (Percy Fletcher)
Piano conductor and orchestral parts

BAL MASQUE (Percy Fletcher)
Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 2 (Boosey & Hawkes, 2000)

THE BOULEVARDIER (Frederic Curzon)
Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 1 (Boosey & Hawkes, 1997)

CINDERELLA’S WEDDING (Charles Ancliffe) Not included, owing to time restraints
Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 2 (Boosey & Hawkes, 2000)

CAFÉ BONHEUR (Henry Krein)
Arranged by Martin Cleave

IN THE SHADOWS (Herman Finck)
Arranged by Martin Cleave

Arranged by Martin Cleave

KASHMIRI SONG (Amy Woodforde-Finden)
Arranged by Martin Cleave

Palm Court Trios selected and arranged by Peter Wilson Vol. 1 (Boosey & Hawkes, 1997)

JEU D'ESPIRIT (Harry Dexter)
Arranged by Martin Cleave
[This has been ‘unearthed’ by Tony, and was especially arranged for the Trio by Martin. It is likely that it was being given its first performance in around fifty years].


After that delightful selection from Martin Cleave, it was time for Tony to conclude the proceedings by thanking all who contributed, and to invite us to reassemble on May 6th 2018, when our special guest will be former BBC and Decca Records producer Tim McDonald.

© Brian Reynolds
October 2017

Tony Clayden would once again like to thank all those mentioned above for their contributions, and also Ursula Kermack, Terry Guntrip and Chris Money for their invaluable – indeed indispensible - assistance at the meeting. On behalf of the team, very best wishes are extended for 2018, and we look forward to seeing all our friends again at the May event.


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