SPRING IN PARK INN
Meeting of the Robert Farnon Society
Sunday 6th April 2008 at the Park Inn London
by Brian Reynolds
Once again the time had come for our annual Springfest and the usual collection of dropouts, screwballs and crackheads were in attendance - but enough about the committee! We really had to look at the calendar to remind ourselves that it was Spring, because after several hours of heavy snow and temperatures barely above freezing, it sure didn't feel like it!
Outside central London snow was two or three inches thick and this fact undoubtedly put off a few of the regulars, nevertheless there was a good, healthy attendance. Because of the fact that the name-change of the hotel was known too late to be mentioned in the latest journal, some of those attending, unable to find the Bonnington Hotel, thought that they had gone the wrong way and had to ask directions. I must say that the new name seems more than a little strange as the establishment is certainly not an "inn" and is nowhere near a park! I'm sure that it is only a matter of time before the graffiti merchants insert the word NO in front of the sign outside!
Those present took their seats to the accompaniment of Here Comes the Band. As David Ades had chosen to take a less prominent part on this occasion due to pressure of other commitments, Albert Killman opened proceedings with a Robert Farnon 'lollipop'- Manhattan Playboy - played by the John Wilson orchestra - It is felt by the London Committee who plan these events that Farnon originals need to be featured more frequently.
This was followed by a tribute to the legendary pianist Oscar Peterson who had died recently. This took the form of the soundtrack of part of a 1969 television interview in which Robert Farnon talked with Peterson. We then heard Bob’s composition The Pleasure of your Company in which Oscar Peterson was accompanied by the Robert Farnon Orchestra.
My Radio Recoll-ections spot came next. At the risk of seeming to be biased, I feel that this is an important part of the programme as it enables listeners to once again enjoy the music of the many orchestras that used to be featured regularly on radio forty or fifty years ago but rarely visited the recording studios, and consequently have tended to be forgotten, despite having given hundreds of broadcasts.
As 2008 marks the centenary of the birth of Leroy Anderson, I decided that his music should feature prominently in my selection. So my first item was a medley consisting of Forgotten Dreams, Belle of the Ball, Blue Tango and Fiddle Faddle played by Ronnie Munro and his Orchestra. In an extremely varied career, Munro had led a dance band during the twenties and thirties, becoming the first conductor of the BBC Scottish Variety Orchestra in 1940. After a further spell with a dance band he formed his light orchestra for radio in the fifties, concluding his BBC career with a sextet which he led between 1962 and 1967. When radio broadcasts dried up, he emigrated to South Africa, where he reformed his orchestra, subsequently becoming Head of Light Music for S.A.B.C.
Next I played (as a request) Reginald Tilsley's novelty Young Dandy played by The Sidney Sax Strings. I met Sidney on several occasions and found him quite charming. But apparently those who worked for him in his capacity of a "fixer" soon found that he demanded the highest standards and there are many stories of quite notable musicians being 'given the boot' by him for the most trivial of reasons.
My next item was Fiesta in Brazil, an exciting Spanish waltz, played by Anton and his orchestra. Anton (real name Arthur Sweeting) had broadcast and recorded with the Paramount Theatre Orchestra in the thirties and had formed a smaller orchestra for broadcasting in the forties. For the next twenty odd years he gave hundreds of broadcasts, but sadly made no more records. He was a reserve conductor to the BBC Staff Orchestras.
To conclude my 'spot' I returned to the Ronnie Munro orchestra for another Leroy Anderson medley, this time including Serenata, Sleigh Ride and Plink,Plank,Plunk.
Ronnie Munro's string orchestra featured William Davies on electronic organ and it was he that played the pizzicato in the final item, probably because the BBC discouraged the use of plucked strings onMusic While You Work (from which the recording came) as they were considered inaudible in the factories.
I was asked to give some 'parish notices' whilst on stage and I drew particular attention to a concert by Ann Adams and the Ladies' Palm Court Orchestra at London's Kensington Gardens bandstand on 29th June (2.00pm to 3.30pm). This 22 piece orchestra's programmes are the highlight of the year for me, as they include so many of the neglected light pieces that were so much a feature of the old Light Programme. I also mentioned a concert on 26th May in Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill by the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra. Both orchestras usually attract some RFS members.
There then followed our customary look at the new releases which, on this occasion, might have been subtitled the 'Peter and Albert show' as Peter Burt alternated with Albert in presenting a selection of newly available recordings. From a new recording of the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by John Wilson, Albert played us Eric Coates' Sound and Vision, commissioned by ATV in 1955.
Peter then played Zip-a-dee-doo-dah from a new CD featuring Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra, entitled Stars and Stripes - An American Concert. Next followed some TV nostalgia as Albert played 'Scherzetto for Children' by Fred Hartley from the new Guild CD Childrens' Memories Vol 2. This item consisted of lots of traditional tunes such as Polly put the Kettle on, Tom Tom, the Piper's Son, Bobby Shaftoe etc - played by Eric Robinson and his Orchestra. Peter's next contribution wasMephistopheles Serenade from The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz, played by Frank Chacksfield and his Orchestra on a new Vocalion CD Immortal Serenades.
Albert then played some music by Laurie Johnson, now 81 years old - the popular theme from the cult TV show The Avengers which comes from a new 3-CD set. Then came something rather unusual on the Naxos label as Peter played a previously unrecorded work by Leroy Anderson - The GovernorBradford March recorded by The BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Leonard Slatkin. This came from the album Anderson Orchestral Music. Albert's next item was Robert Farnon's Scenic Grandeurplayed by the Danish State Radio Orchestra - again from a new Guild CD. Peter Burt's final contribution was Wunderbar from a Vocalion CD of Mantovani and his Orchestra entitled Song Hits of Theatreland.
Before his final item in this section, Albert conveyed to the congregation the good wishes of RFS President David Farnon and Alan Bunting. He then went on to play The Cat from Coos Bay which, I must confess, was a new one to me, but I am assured that it was a big hit in its day. It came from a recent Vocalion CD of the singles of Wally Stott.
It was now time for the first interval and we went to our refreshments to the accompaniment of Eric Coates' march Sound and Vision.
It was now time to meet our special guest for the afternoon and Robert Habermann introduced composer Nigel Hess. So as to remind the audience of his work our attention was directed to the video screen for a selection of opening titles from a host of television series for which he wrote the music. Many were astounded at his versatility, as a succession of pieces were played which we knew so well but had perhaps been unaware of their composer! Let's face it - most title sequences are confined to a quarter of the screen with a continuity announcer chattering about something totally irrelevant!
Featured were the following:
WYCLIFFE - HETTY WAINTHROP INVESTIGATES - SUMMERS LEASE - DANGERFIELD - JUST WILLIAM - MAIGRET starring Michael Gambon- A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE - CAMPION - TESTAMENT and VANITY FAIR
During his conversation with Robert, Nigel Hess revealed a fact that was probably not known to many present - that the famous Dame Myra Hess was his great aunt. Nigel recounted to us that he took up the piano at the age of two and a half and that his first favourite piece of music as a child was The Dambusters March.
As a professional musician one of his first engagements was as Musical Director for the Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar. Subsequently he wrote the title music for Let's be Friends. He was also asked to write a piece of music for an up and coming comedy duo on the lines of Morecambe and Wise's Bring me Sunshine. These hitherto unknown entertainers were Cannon and Ball. Nigel Hess has written much music for Shakespearean plays and, as an example, he played music from the Coronation Scene from Henry VIII. Nigel has always had an interest in music for Concert Band - or Wind Band as it is called in America, which he illustrated with a movement from his East Coast Pictures.
We then turned to the big screen to see a clip from Ladies in Lavender, and the presentation was brought to a conclusion with part of a Concerto - a movement entitled The Love. In view of its regal connections this work involved discussions at Clarence House with Prince Charles no less!
Before thanking Nigel Hess for a very interesting presentation which, incidentally was very well received, Robert Habermann asked him who were his biggest influences. Perhaps not surprisingly he said: Korngold, Steiner and John Williams.
Following the raffle, the meeting paused for the second interval.
We returned to our seats to the accompaniment of Chopin's Les Sylphides. Albert opened proceedings with a tribute to the late Gene Puerling, who we heard in conversation with Robert Farnon, to the accompaniment of The More I See You.
It was then time for ‘Cab's Swing Session’. Cab Smith started with a Robert Farnon original: Johnny's Dive. His second item (also by the maestro) was a jazz piano feature from Bill McGuffie - Poodle Parade. It's amazing how this light orchestral piece adapts so easily to jazz piano! Cab concluded with Robert Farnon conducting his own arrangement of Sunny Side Up which also happens to be the title tune of a recent 'Guild' CD.
Albert then played us Happy Go Lively by Laurie Johnson.
At long last it was time to welcome David Ades to the top table. As mentioned earlier, David had chosen to adopt a lower profile on this occasion. For his first item, David played us David Rose'sDance of the Spanish Onion from a 1967 Columbia 'Studio Two' LP. This was included at the special request of Norman Grant. Then, from a Thames TV series recorded at the 'Talk of the Town' in 1972, we heard the opening titles and Tony Bennett with the Robert Farnon Orchestra in Baby Dream your Dream.
David then introduced us to something rather special and certainly unique. Alan Bunting, who is responsible for the excellent sound restorations for the 'Guild' recordings, had obtained (at considerable cost to himself) a film of a studio session by Percy Faith and his orchestra, performed supposedly in front of a small audience - they actually sounded like a huge audience, but in reality there was no audience and the applause was dubbed!
The video was all the more special because it featured Faith's recording orchestra rather than the session musicians which he used for most television shows. I gather from David that the musicians for his Best of Both Worlds shows for the BBC in the 1960s were largely drawn from the Robert Farnon Orchestra. Percy Faith was born 7th April 1908 and died 9th February 1976 aged 67 We then watched and listened to the following items: Mucho Gusto: Moulin Rouge: There's a boat that's leaving for New York: Tenderly:a samba La Mattchiche (Nazareth) and, finally, The Sound of Music.
This brought the meeting to a close and Albert conveyed his appreciation to Alan Bunting for making the Percy Faith material available to us; he also thanked all who had participated in the meeting - not forgetting Tony Clayden who brings a considerable amount of equipment with him and twiddles the knobs to ensure that we get the best sound. Albert also told us that next April we shall be having a Haydn Wood special, involving Wood's grand niece. It will also include some live performances of his works.
The next meeting is on November 30th when we shall be honoured with the presence of Iain Sutherland, one of the few remaining links with the 'Light Programme' who many of us remember for his conductorship of the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra as well as many programmes with the Concert Orchestra and Radio Orchestra. It was Iain, incidentally, that said: "Light music isn't dead - the BBC are in the process of burying it alive!" The meeting closed with Robert Farnon's Melody Fair.
As the audience slowly dispersed we were serenaded with some Farnon arrangements played by the BBC Radio Orchestra.... Waltzing with Richard Rodgers; Dream Theme; As Time Goes By and from the George Mitchell Glee Club with the Robert Farnon Orchestra Love is Such a Cheat (Decca F9655).
"ON A SPRING NOTE"
Report of RFS London Meeting held at the Bonnington Hotel on Sunday, 1 April, 2007
by VERNON ANDERSON
As soon as one enters through the double doors of the Derby Suite, our venue for the afternoon’s entertainment, the senses are immediately alerted by the strains of a familiar piece of light music and the welcoming smiles of our three ladies on "reception", where we sign in, attend to the usual formalities and may be drawn by what’s on offer in the Raffle. For those arriving between 1.30 pm and 2.00 pm there is the added attraction of the musical gems available from the RFS Record Service.
But it’s rapidly approaching 2.00 pm and already the air is buzzing with animated conversation as friends greet each other, discuss new releases and exchange pleasantries as the strains of our "settling in" music is heard. Today it’s the Overture In My Memoirs from "Mike Todd’s Broadway" and already our programme presenters are settled at the top table.
At 2.00 pm precisely, Robert Farnon’s "Proscenium" announces the opening of the afternoon’s proceedings and David sets the scene by welcoming everybody to this, The Robert Farnon Society’s 100th Meeting, a milestone in the society’s history, and introduces fellow presenters Albert Killman and Andre Leon who we will be hearing from a little later.
David sets the pace with a selection from a Robert Farnon film score of the 1950s which, as most of us remember, was the last of the "Road" Films. Albert back announces "The Road to Hong Kong" by the Robert Farnon Orchestra. The film starred Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour, with a young Joan Collins as the "love" interest and gave Robert Farnon just one word to "dubb in" as Bing and Joan went into that memorable embrace. (The Programme at this point has Albert remembering Don Lusher, but that is now held over to Part Three).
David now introduced Andre Leon who presented an Appreciation of Eric Coates who died 50 years ago this year (1886-1957).
Andre’s selection was taken from the following Eric Coates compositions/recordings available:-
(It was here that your reporter made his entrance as Andre’s presentation came to an end). However, Andre acknowledged what a privilege it was to present his selection at the 100th RFS Meeting. Albert thanked Andre for his presentation which received a warm appreciation from the audience. Albert then introduced a glowing tribute to Bob Farnon from Vera Lynn, who celebrates her 90th birthday this year. It included Bob’s arrangement of Arthur Schwartz’s lovely Something to Remember You By (Vocalion CDLK 4108) which this writer found particularly poignant.
Next we came to Latest Releases in which David and Albert play some of the new Light Music CDs currently available through the RFS Record Service. Number one on the "turntable" was Frank Chackfield’s Singing Strings playing the McCann/Bolesworth collaboration Pulling Strings from the Living Era CD "Frank Chacksfield in the Limelight" – introduced by David who then handed over to Albert. He selected a highlight from the new Jasmine CD – Robert Farnon Orchestra with Beryl Davies singing You Keep Coming Back Like A Song. A lovely arrangement typical of Bob.
Next David introduced a piece by Trevor Duncan, here as our special guest 3 years ago and sadly no longer with us. We heard his A Waltz for Terry – a lovely reflective piece which (for some) had "Farnonesque" undertones. This comes from the Boosey & Hawkes 3 CD Digipack of 1950s 78s on the Polygon label. Albert then played an arrangement by Laurie Johnson of the Song of the Pearl Fishers in "beguine" rhythm by his orchestra, with the accent on bass, which became one of his trademarks. This comes from the new Guild Light Music Series, Volume 4 – Cornflakes. David commented that the sound quality is very good for that piece considering its age and noted on reflection that Laurie celebrates his 80th birthday this year.
David followed this with a piece from the new Naxos CD whose theme is Vintage TV and Radio Classics – Cyril Watters’ Willow Waltz – a particular favourite.
Albert – "And at only £6.00 it’s excellent value". He then went on to introduce the CD of Lena Horne’s "Lena – A New Album" recorded in 1976 with Robert Farnon and His Orchestra. David Snell also makes a contribution on this album together with (amongst others), Phil Woods on saxophone, adding some special touches to Bob’s great charts. From this recording Albert selected My Funny Valentine. The CD becomes available thanks to Mike Dutton in negotiations with RCA who recorded the original album. The CD also features the original artwork. David remarked that Lena was superb on this album and noted that Bob and Lena were born within a few months of each other (1917) so she’ll soon be 90, which is remarkable. There was a well deserved spontaneous response of appreciation from the audience.
Next David played the opening track from a new Guild CD titled Continental Flavour – Cole Porter’s The Last Time I Saw Paris arranged and played by Ron Goodwin and His Orchestra.
Albert’s next selection came from David Rose and His Orchestra playing Harold Arlen’s classic Last Night When We Were Young. This features on another new Guild CD called Amor Amor in the Music for Romance vein. The original title of the collection was Cocktails for Two, which is the opening track played by the Robert Farnon Orchestra. But we couldn’t find a suitable picture for the CD cover, so the name had to be changed!
David then introduced us to the latest release from Jasmine Records of Robert Farnon’s Orchestral and Film Music – They Wanted His Big Hits, so this CD, the first of two, includes four film sound tracks including Maytime in Mayfair which closes the album. And so we launched into that lovely Dream Dance sequence and closing titles music. A real joy to hear again. As this piece was playing we were graced by the arrival of harpist David Snell, who quietly found a seat and settled in to enjoy the rest of the programme.
The second CD in the collection includes Robert Farnon and his Orchestra accompanying singers on UK Decca. (A full list of the pieces on both these CDs appears in the review on pages 78 and 79 of JIM 171, March, 2007).
In giving the Parish Notices, David made an appeal to anyone who felt they would like to take over the responsibility of Magazine Editor as he felt, after many years in this capacity, he would like to stand down. Could they see him during the next interval.
Next came the matter of the increasing costs for the hire of the hotel room for our meetings. David asked for a show of hands for an agreement in principle to a minimal increase in members’/visitors’ contribution in the future, to enable us to continue our meetings at the Bonnington Hotel. This was greeted with almost total support for which David offered his special thanks to the meeting.
And last, (but by no means least) David announced that a special DVD would soon be available of Bob’s 1971 concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Derek Boulton has been the prime mover in obtaining the video recording in colour of Bob Farnon conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of his orchestral music and so is quite unique.
David also highlighted the special souvenir 2 DVD set celebrating the Society’s first 50 years, produced by Geoffrey Richardson (which every member should have in their collection). (These new DVDs were subsequently reviewed in JIM 172 June 2007).
David passed on a message received from fellow members Malcolm and Iris Frazer who are due to be grandparents again. And at this point David sent us off for a welcome Tea Break to the Thomson Holidays theme music.
During the interval the writer noted yet another celebrity quietly reading the latest copy of JIM, pianist/composer Eric Parkin, who amongst his other attributes has transcribed many of Bob’s pieces for pianoforte in his own inimitable style.
And so we were called back to our seats for the 3.30 pm kick-off for PART TWO with Albert at the helm (if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphors).
Albert back announced the Thomson Holiday Music which was a "35 second download", and set the ball rolling with Bob Farnon and the George Mitchell Glee Club’s rendition of The Village Fair (from Music in the Air).
Albert then handed over to fellow presenter Tony Clayden (who had left the control desk in the capable hands of Andre Leon) who now introduced our special guest of the afternoon, Matthew Curtis.
He began by noting that it was indeed a privilege to be a guest on the occasion of the 100th Meeting of the Robert Farnon Society. Unlike the Bank of England, who have elected to remove Edward Elgar from the £20.00 note in time for the 150th Anniversary of his birth (1857-1934). Matthew’s first piece was Tarantella (from the Little Dance Suite) played by the London Symphonia conducted by Gavin Sutherland, (Cameo 2035).
Matthew praised the society for supporting the work of living composers and noted that "Nostalgia" plays into the hands of those people who would destroy this "style of music". His next piece was called At Twilight for strings and harp and is his latest recording (on Cameo 2055). A very evocative and atmospheric piece (certainly for this writer). Matthew continued:- "An occasion like this presents a good cue for a reliable rant; and to define exactly what light music is. The key is that a lot of composers not here today would be able to show examples in many of their pieces – the likes of Shostakovich wrote some good examples, as did Franz Lehar. Programme makers on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4 seemed to have subconscious prejudices as to choice of music, as does Classic FM". Matthew also cited Eric Coates’ and US composer Jessie Knight’s definitions of light music and orchestration.
His next selection was a miniature overture, composed for small orchestra titled On the Move (again from Cameo 2055). "The xylophone is painfully sharp, as the recording was made on a very hot day, but it can’t be helped". "One is always aware that one’s selection of pieces may be shorter than the booked time, which is tantamount to paying for the musicians to go home early".
Next followed Irish Lullaby. "This was played in New Zealand about 2 weeks ago for St. Patrick’s Day". (Cameo 2035). "Charity Butler (clarinet) is featured on these recordings, and is married to Gavin Sutherland".
Matthew’s next selection was Divertimento Concertante in three movements. We heard the last movement. (Cameo 2055). Matthew’s latest recording project is Cameo 2060 which he said "sounds like a brand of Mexican Lipstick". "It has Gavin Sutherland at Piano with vocal by Maria Vacsiliou (soprano). It’s a setting of poems by Ann Harriett, a friend of Matthew’s mother, who died about 20 years ago". The piece is titled Distant Memory and is very reflective and beautifully sung – "a glorious voice" (overheard). "And so it’s back to where it all started, with acknowledgements to Alan Langford and the BBC".
On introducing his last selection, Matthew said "this one was not commissioned – titled Festive March from a private recording of 1983 with Ashley Lawrence conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra". Tony confirmed that this is not available on CD at the moment.
In conclusion, Matthew said he was not involved with library music and prefers concert performances of his works. Of the composers who have influenced his music he exclaimed "You tell me", but in all conscience he acknowledged the works of Rossini, Eric Coates and last, but not least, Ron Goodwin, and thanked everyone for listening.
Albert thanked Matthew for a thought provoking and entertaining presentation which received a very warm appreciation from the audience.
Albert now introduced Tony Clayden for a review of recent reissues of note. Tony said he felt like the dust cart after the Lord Mayor’s Show and began with a:
Albert thanked Tony and then asked Matthew and Tony to engage in the "lucky dip" for the Raffle Draw. Then Come on In by Sid Dale Orchestra (John Dunn’s signature tune) took us into the next interval.
PART THREE: Back to seats music (not noted) and with everyone comfortably settled Albert paid tribute to the much regarded jazz trombonist Don Lusher who sadly died last year. Don is well remembered for his great playing with the Ted Heath Band which he later took over to much acclaim. He could also be found among the top session men on many of Robert Farnon’s recordings. To celebrate that association, Albert played Carlos Jobim’s Wave with Don soloing with the Robert Farnon Orchestra, conducted by Bob, which was much appreciated by the audience.
To present the selections for the last part of the Programme, Albert had been joined by Cab Smith and Brian Reynolds. And he now introduced Cab for his "Swing Session" which this time began with Bob’s From the Highlands suite; from which we heard Charlie is my Darling. (Sadly this was cut short due to a ‘technical hitch’) so we went straight into Globe Trotting, which Bob recorded in Hamburg in 1975. Cab closed his session with Hoagy Carmichael’s My Resistance is Low which Bob Farnon recorded at Kingsway Hall in May 1952 – Orchestra with the Johnston Singers. This one comes from the new Jasmine CD 2 (15).
Albert thanked Cab, to a round of applause and then handed over to Brian Reynolds and, in so doing, made an announcement concerning the BBC Trust (formerly the BBC Board of Governors) regarding consultation documents on the website. This is an opportunity to submit our views. Public consultations end on 10 April, 2007. Brian then introduced his first number in his "Radio Recollection" spot:
Albert thanked Brian for his contribution which was much appreciated.
Albert then drew our attention to the honour bestowed on George Shearing (the "Boy from Battersea") whose services to the field of jazz has now been recognised with a knighthood. Albert mentioned his long association with Bob Farnon and, as a tribute to Sir George, played a piece from their collaboration on the "How Beautiful is Night" album, recorded at CTS Wembley (9/92), George Gershwin’s Oh Lady be Good in a lilting waltz tempo, and ending with George’s little figure from Bob’s Portrait of a Flirt which brought a few appreciative smiles and a well deserved round of applause from the assembled company.
During the playing of this piece Cab and Brian left the top table and Albert was joined by David for the next presentation, who having been introduced by Albert led us into his final selection of music beginning with a Special Request from Norman Grant, for Clive Richardson’s Melody on the Move with the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Charles Williams. This comes from the Guild Light Music Series on which 1,000 pieces of music is now available (and increasing). David then made mention of John Fox’s latest composition with the title A Surrey Rhapsody which David allows Brian Kay to introduce (from his BBC3 Radio Programme). The piece opens with the rich sound of birdsong, a dawn chorus which leads into a reflective pastoral scene, played by the Royal Ballet Symphonia. As the composer was present with us today David invited him to stand for the ovation, especially as he is celebrating his 83rd birthday this month. John graciously acknowledged the warm response. David then introduced a gem from the past – Robert Farnon introducing his Mid Ocean arranged and played by Douglas Gamley (piano) and orchestra conducted by Bob, from the "Best of Both Worlds" Series on BBC2. Recorded at BBC Television Centre on 18 October, 1964, and transmitted on 20 December that year.
David’s closing piece was Pia Zadora with the London Philharmonic Orchestra arranged and conducted by Robert Farnon in End of a Love Affair/How about Me from the unreleased 3rd album (13-15/11/90, CTS Studios, Wembley) – from the RFS Archive.
And on that note David brought the Society’s 100th Meeting to a close, with thanks to our Guest of Honour, Matthew Curtis, to the Presenters, Andre Leon, Tony Clayden, Cab Smith and Brian Reynolds; all the helpers on reception and for arranging the Raffle. Everyone helping with the RFS Record Service and special thanks to Tony Clayden for all his technical support facilities. But, most important, the appreciative audience who came to today’s special meeting. "Wishing everyone a great summer and looking forward to seeing you in November".
Closing music – Robert Farnon’s evergreen Melody Fair etc.
In completing this Report I acknowledge with thanks the assistance I received from Malcolm Powell who kindly provided me with notes and additional material clarifying some aspects of the presentations but, more especially, the early part of the meeting, missed because I was unavoidably delayed.
The Robert Farnon Society celebrated its first 50 Years with a special meeting on 2 April 2006, followed by Dinner afterwards. Peter Burt looks back on that milestone in our Society’s history, which he simply calls …
A Memorable Afternoon
Around 40 members and friends attended the very first meeting of the Robert Farnon Appreciation Society, as it then was, on Sunday 15 April 1956 at the Bonnington Hotel. Three times as many of us made our way on 2 April 2006 to the same venue in London’s Bloomsbury, to celebrate the first 50 years of meetings. One thing I am sure of is that those pioneer members were not faced with such an array of sound and vision equipment that, courtesy of our technical wizard Tony Clayden, enhanced our afternoon’s enjoyment. And what an afternoon!
Bob’s High Street preceded the announcement summoning us to our seats, followed by his ‘The Road to Hong Kong’ Overture. It was then into the programme proper with another Farnon composition, Proscenium. David Ades welcomed us – especially "two very, very special guests", David and Patricia Farnon – before handing over to his co-host Albert Killman, who introduced ‘Farnon Fantasy’: a pot-pourri of A Star is Born, Peanut Polka, Jumping Bean, Westminster Waltz, Portrait of a Flirt and State Occasion. This had been recorded by the LPO at a Royal Festival Hall concert in 1974 conducted by Bob who, we were reminded, had fronted all of the four major London symphony orchestras.
There followed a particularly poignant part of the programme as David and Albert remembered RFS members and friends no longer with us. These were, naturally, Bob himself, Kenneth Head [one of our founders], Michael Maine, Don Furnell, Percy and Edna Foster, Jimmy Gibbs, George Collins, Peter Bunfield, Robert Rudhall, Joy Fox, Ron Goodwin, Clive Richardson, Sir Vivian Dunn, former British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath [who wrote for this magazine], Trevor Duncan, Alan Dell, Adelaide Hall, Robin Boyle and Dame Anna Neagle [another JIM contributor]. Mention was also made of Dorothy Head who was unwell. [She sadly passed away a few days after the meeting, as reported in our last issue].
David next introduced the first video of the afternoon. This comprised short extracts from RFS meetings in November 1986, the first ever to be recorded on videotape, and May 1987 when Bob’s 70th birthday was prematurely celebrated and another special guest was a very amusing Alan Dell. It was great to hear that distinctive voice again. Fenella Ades had been behind the video recorder when it seemed The Bonnington was not quite as upmarket as it is nowadays.
We then had a few words from Brian Reynolds about his new book ‘Music While You Work – An Era in Broadcasting’ [Book Guild] which traces the story of the well-loved BBC radio programme from 23rd June 1940 to 29th September 1967 with revivals in 1982, ’83, ’91 and ‘95’. Albert followed by introducing recorded messages from Forrest Patten and Bob’s brother Brian in the USA, Alan Heinecke "Down Under" in Australia, and Pip Wedge in Canada. Brian told us that his favourite composition of all that Bob wrote was the first 8 or 10 bars of To A Young Lady.
David introduced Jan Eriksen from Norway who was with us in person to recall the time in 1991 when Bob conducted the Norwegian Radio Orchestra with George Shearing as the soloist. It was worth the price of admission to hear them playing A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.
The "parish notices" brought us to the first interval and the cutting of Sylvia Rix’s wonderful presentation cake with its liberal infusion of sherry. David also passed on greetings from friends who could not be with us, including John Parry, Frank Comstock, Philip Lane, Peter Taylor in Spain, Horace Bennett, Malcolm Laycock, Brian Coleman and Rodney Greenberg.
It was back to our seats, accompanied by Bob’s recording of Varsity Drag,for David to announce and then introduce our new President, David Farnon. Before playing, with accompanying anecdotes, three of his favourite pieces recorded by Bob - Playtime, The Newsreel March and Country Girl, vocal by Tony Bennett - David told us that over the past year the family had been engaged in compiling a complete catalogue of Bob’s works from all sources with the intention of it going on the Internet. Then there was Bob’s personal library with previously unrecorded works which would be gradually released. There was also a hope that one of Bob’s works might be played at next year’s Proms to mark the 90th anniversary of his birth.
Next we heard an extract from Bob’s Symphony No. 3 [The Edinburgh], performed by The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra conduced by William Eddins, taken from a Canadian radio broadcast supplied by RFS member Graham Newton.
Albert recalled that TV cameras visited Bob at his home on Guernsey at least twice during the 1980s. From 11th December 1981 we saw an interview from BBC 1’s ‘Pebble Mill at One’; then from 10th April 1988 another with Harry Secombe in his long-running ‘Highway’ show on ITV. We learnt that Bob was a man of strong faith who both believed in the power of prayer and that any talent anyone has is God given. The extract concluded with one of Bob’s finest pieces, Proud Canvas. Albert remarked on the hours that David had spent in transcribing the afternoon’s videos from the Society’s archives onto DVDs.
The popular, witty and very personable Brian Kay was next on playing Ray Martin’s Once upon a Wintertime, featuring Bob’s "perfect" arrangement for Vera Lynn with the Robert Farnon Orchestra, and Horn-A-Plenty, with Bob conducting the Danish State Radio Orchestra in his own composition. After thanking Brian, David told us that also in our audience were the very first editor of JIM, John Costin, and the very first equipment controller, Jim Palm.
At this point Albert diverted from the script [at least, from David’s script] to thank David and Moira – "without them we would not have a Society" – and to show our appreciation by presenting them with the gifts you can read about elsewhere. After sustained applause and David’s brief word of thanks, we remembered "a great friend of the Society", Don Furnell, sometime Assistant Secretary, by listening to a recording of his voice from one of our meetings, and his beloved Metropole Orchestra playing Theme from ‘The Flintstones’,with Clark Terry on flugelhorn. Albert’s response was "Yaba Daba Doo!" John McGlynn conducting The London Sinfonietta in We’re in the Money brought us to the Brian drawn raffle and the second interval. The interval music was Bob’s City Streets.
We returned to our seats clutching our CD purchases to hear a piece especially composed by RFS member David Barton in honour of our 50 years: Nostalgic Journey. The final segment of the afternoon’s entertainment opened with Philip Farlow making a moving tribute to the fondly remembered BBC’s Michael Maine, who "from about 1974 for a good long period was magazine editor and cornerstone of the first properly formulated Farnon discography … as well as presenting pieces at the top table." He tragically died in April 1984 as the result of a road accident, aged 33. Happier times were recalled by hearing recordings of his voice on air.
A request from Norman Grant and several other members followed this with extracts from the film ‘Spring In Park Lane’ – music by you-know-who. Cab Smith had to be part of our special meeting and appeared briefly to bring us "The Guv’nor’s" arrangement of Victor Schertzinger’s The Fleet’s In – quality if not quantity. The last item was more video clips, this time from ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower RN’, preceded by an introduction from Bob talking about his work on the film – "the best score I’ve written."
David said how lovely it was to have a member from America, James Cahall in the audience again; and then closed the meeting with the usual thanks all round and, as Melody Fair and Manhattan Playboy came over the loudspeakers, 68 of us made our way downstairs to the Jubilee Suite for the evening’s celebrations.
There we shared in good food and friendship, seasoned by the humour never far from the surface at our gatherings, with music by Ann Adams and her Ladies’ Palm Court Quartet and speeches from David Ades, John Wilson, John Fox, Sigmund Groven, Brian Kay and Tony Clayden. Albert was our admirable Master of Ceremonies. It was a memorable evening to crown a memorable afternoon. And as our President had said earlier in the day and our Secretary had echoed at the end of the meeting: "Here’s to the next 50 years."
A Coda from our Secretary…
For once in my life I was really stumped for words. When Albert suddenly departed from our rough script, and asked Moira and myself to join him in front of the Presenters’ Table, I was completely unprepared for what was to follow. And my dear Moira was moved to tears!
After saying some very kind words about our involvement with the Society for the past 50 years, Albert presented Moira with a charming brooch which she will wear with pride at our future meetings.
My own presentation was a copy of Robert Farnon’s Decca 78 of Jumping Bean and Portrait of a Flirt inside a special case bearing the inscription:
"The Robert Farnon Society 50th Anniversary 1956-2006
Presented to David Ades in recognition and appreciation of his many years of loyal and devoted service to the Society and of his tireless support and promotion of Light Music"
This means more to be than any other award I have ever received, and it occupies a place of honour directly in front of the desk at which I do all my work. I will see it every time I look up and I can only express my sincere thanks to everyone involved in making this wonderful thing happen. It is something I will never forget.
Occasions such as this require a concerted effort from so many people, and the success of the Anniversary Meeting is due to willing contributions from so many. Members of both the main Committee, and the London Meetings Sub-Committee, assisted in numerous ways, and there were also other generous helpers who joined in on the day. I hope I remembered to thank you all during the meeting or at the Dinner, but if my memory failed me I hope you will forgive someone who was still so overwhelmed by the kindness shown to him.
The events were captured on video and even as this magazine is being prepared a souvenir DVD is being assembled by Geoffrey Richardson (much to his regret, Geoffrey was abroad at the time, so he missed the meeting). Ralph Thompson was in change of the cameras during the day, and he was ably assisted by Brian Joscelyne and Stephen Wright. To them all I extend my sincere thanks. There is still a lot of work to do but we are hoping that the finished DVD will be ready for members to buy before Christmas – watch out for details in the next magazine.
Once again I must say what a real delight it was to welcome Mrs. Patricia Farnon and her son David (our honoured new President) during the afternoon and evening. Their presence provided the real ‘icing on the cake’.
And talking of the cake (yes, I know it’s a very corny link!) we are so grateful to Sylvia Rix for providing such a delicious ‘special treat’ for all the members. Not only was it stunning in its clever design, but it also tasted even better than it looked!
Ann Adams and her Ladies provided us with some delightful music before, and during, the Dinner, and it was good to see several non-dining members occupying chairs near the musicians and enjoying the music.
Finally (for now!) I wish to thank Malcolm Powell for taking the excellent photographs which appear on the previous pages in this feature, and on the pages immediately following this report. If you would like copies you can contact Malcolm direct – details of his address etc. on the inside front cover. (The photo on page by Simon Mentha was kindly supplied by Ann Adams).
As Peter Burt said at the top of his report: it was a truly Memorable Afternoon!
Shortly after our Meeting, the following message was received from one of our honoured guests, BRIAN KAY
"Congratulations to you all for a splendid 50th Anniversary Celebration. I was so glad to be there, and to be made so welcome by everyone, and enjoyed the occasion enormously. It was fascinating to see those old videos and the excerpts from the two main films were terrific, as I’d never seen either of them!
With you guys around the name and the music of Robert Farnon will surely last forever – quite right, too!"
RFS LONDON MEETING – SUNDAY 3 APRIL 2005
A Report by Paul Clatworthy
RFS Secretary David Ades opened the meeting by welcoming our Membership Secretary Albert Killman back on board after a spell in hospital. He had missed our previous meeting, and it was good to see him back at his familiar place on the top table.
Before the meeting proper began, the ‘settling down’ music featured two titles from that rare Everest LP "Mike Todd’s Broadway", which Robert Farnon made ‘anonymously’ while still under contract elsewhere. Even more rare is the stereo version, never released in Britain, from which came Stay With The Happy People and Violins from Nowhere.
To get the meeting off to a rousing start we heard some of the themes composed by Robert Farnon for the TV mini-series "A Man Called Intrepid" starring David Niven. Bob Farnon provided the music from his own collection as it was never released commercially. Frenesi was played as a tribute to the late Artie Shaw, dear to many Farnon members as a string section was used, at the time quite an innovation.
Tony Bennett singing the late Cy Coleman's composition "The Riviera" showcased Farnon's skill as a Big Band arranger, exhilarating music yet to make it on to CD! Next André Leon did a presentation explaining the problems he had after being commissioned to resurrect the Boosey and Hawkes mood music library. One unlikely source - Australia! Luckily they were not so quick to use a skip as the London HQ! Alan Bunting has done a wonderful clean-up of the sound when transferring these vintage 78s to CD. Alan must spend 24 hours a day with this valuable restoration work, and several "snippets" of the music (now back in catalogue) were played to illustrate the scope of "mood" music recovered plus some words from Alan Bunting thanking those who had helped with rare missing tracks.
David and Albert played some new releases, including film music by Clifton Parker (from the Walt Disney film "Treasure Island"); Matthew Curtis’s Bon Voyage and the Percy Faith Orchestra with a spirited version of Leroy Anderson’s Pyramid Dance. Albert Killman gave the good news that Angela Morley is still composing and will be a guest on the Brian Kay programme in July – we heard her Adrift in a Dream from a new Guild CD. Part of Eric Rogers’ score for "Carry on Abroad" complete with some "earthy" humour followed - "great to listen to on a boring car journey" said David. Before the first interval David gave apologies for absence and welcomed some distinguished guests.
Part two opened with Cab Smith’s "Swing Session" which featured Bob Farnon's arrangements of Just in time, Come fly with me and Black Bottom. The first title was almost a certain choice if Sinatra had ever got to work with Bob again, sadly never to be!
Robert Habermann introduced our main Guest of the afternoon - David Snell, harpist, pianist, composer and conductor, all in one talented man! David talked of working with Tubby Hayes, Johnny Scott, Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine. Vocalion have just issued a CD version of his Decca L.P "The Subtle Sound of David Snell" (CDLF 8110) from which we heard his delightful version of The Surrey with the Fringe on Top and one from the KPM mood library International Flight. David also worked for the Bruton library and we heard the evocative Sleigh Ride.
The BBC Radio Orchestra also had the benefit of his talent until its untimely demise at the hands of the accountants! David played one of the pastoral pieces he was most pleased with, Evensong; I am sure everyone present agreed with his choice. David continued his illuminating spot with the end credit music for the story "Sun Child" one of his film soundtracks. Next the last part of his Divertimento for Strings recorded by the L.S.O. He ended with Walking Happy especially written for him by Bob Farnon.
Albert ushered all guests back to their seats for the last part of the proceedings, beginning with Brian Reynolds’ trawl through his archive of broadcast recordings, one a forty year old version of Robert Farnon's whimsical Moomin - good to hear it again! Next a jaunty tune The Green Cockatoo by the late Harold Geller and his Orchestra. Brian ended with Eric Jupp's "Beau Geste" with some sprightly string writing. All the music a trip down memory lane from the days of "Steam radio"!
Tony Foster presented The Sid Lawrence orchestra playing Caribbean Clipper with some neat answer and call brass work. Another inspired choice was Urbie Green leading a twenty piece trombone choir with a unique version of Stardust. Third choice André Previn backed by a rousing big band led by Johnny Williams steaming through I only have eyes for you. Tony ended with Robert Farnon's Canadian Caravan from the CD "Canadian impressions" I still treasure the letter Bob sent to me when I enquired where I could get a recording. Bob kindly wrote back saying it was a "Chappell" record not then available to the general public but that he intended to include it on a future Decca L.P. Ah these years later it still thrills!
Next guest was one of the world’s foremost bassoonists, Daniel Smith who told of his visit to Robert Farnon who had written a "Concerto for Bassoon" and needed a player who could improvise jazz on this most unwieldy of instruments! He said that Bob was having trouble with his legs and was very frustrated because he dearly wanted to conduct the composition himself. Daniel said the score was absolutely amazing! Twenty five minutes long in three parts. Bob considered the composition to be his best work ever! Something he had worked on for a long time in his mind.
David Ades played Farnon's version of "Song of Scandia" an arrangement Farnon had written for Bassoon exploring the instrument’s potential. We had a preview of John Wilson's new CD "Dance Date", the chosen tune being an Alan Roper arrangement of "The Lady in Red" which Stan Kenton had a minor hit with in the late fifties. Lastly we heard two from the latest "Guild" collection one being my favourite Harold Arlen tune What's Good about Good-bye played by the magnificent David Rose Orchestra.
The happy gathering dispersed to the sound of Melody Fair, all looking forward to the next meeting.
Editor: every so often our Society hosts a very special event which is destined to go down as one of the highlights to be fondly remembered by those of us fortunate enough to be present. Such an occasion occurred in April 2004, when Trevor Duncan accepted our invitation to be our Guest of Honour for our Spring London meeting. In the following report, Peter Burt recreates the magic of that memorable weekend.
All in an April afternoon
Sunday 4th April and the usual venue of the Bonnington Hotel on London’s Southampton Row. But a rather special meeting as we had as our Guest of Honour a man described by Paul Clatworthy in an earlier report as "music composer supreme", Trevor Duncan.
There was a larger than usual gathering of members to hear about his career spanning over 50 years and to celebrate his 80th birthday. His interlocutor was André Leon who, due to his interviewee’s self-effacement, sometimes had to almost answer his own questions. Trevor was led through his life in music as firstly BBC balance engineer then producer [including the ‘Show Band Show’], orchestrator and composer; and was prompted to comment on the music he wrote and people he met along the way.
He told us how he first came to orchestration through the encouragement of Ray Martin, how prior to that Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade had sent shivers down his spine, and how he loved the sea. When bracketed with John Williams as "going down in history" for one aspect of his music he quipped: "I shall go down in history as not earning as much money as John Williams".
We had recorded birthday greetings from Ann Dawson, referring to him as "charming and wonderful company", George Barker of Media Music and Peter Cox of KPM.
And the music? There was High Heels [in three different versions], Tomboy, Making Tracks [aka Homeward Bound, aka 20th Century Express], Dramatic Pointers, No Place To Hide, Escape Velocity, Quatermass, Panoramic Splendour ["a masterpiece of vision"], Passage To Windward, Overland To Oregon, St. Boniface Down, Girl From Corsica, Mademoiselle Moderne, Waltz For Terri, A Sequence For Sentimentalists, East Side Story, Climb to Altitude, Icicle Ride, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Unwanted - The Boy, March from ‘A Little Suite’, Folk Tune and Little Debbie. And we had Trevor’s piano party piece of asking for four notes at random from the audience and then turning them into a composition. What riches!
The afternoon had started with a voice a lot of us would not have heard for years, Donald Peers, singing Bow Bells with Robert Farnon’s Orchestra, from the new ‘A Portrait of Farnon’ Living Era CD. The recording included a nice interpolation of the bells as we used to hear them on the old BBC Home Service.
Our friend Heinz Herschmann is one of several men about music who were born in 1924 and a birthday tribute in the form of his Fluerette followed. A Farnon number was next, Little Miss Molly, featuring the mellifluous flute of Jane Pickles with the Royal Philharmonic Strings conducted by Jack Parnell – a track from the latest RF sessions, which at the time of writing are still to be put out on disc. After that a forthcoming CD of, this time, old recordings made up Cab Smith’s Swing Session. The CD in question, ‘Showcase for Soloists’, and the tracks were: Travellin’ Jazz [Dennis Wilson], Walkin’ Happy [David Snell] and Trumpet Talk [Kenny Baker and Stan Roderick].
Another long-time friend and regular attendee at our meetings is John Fox, also celebrating his 80th birthday this year. It was good to see him again [accompanied by his lovely wife, Joy Devon] and to hear his My Village [from ’Countryside Suite’] played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia conducted by RFS member Gavin Sutherland. This drew spontaneous applause as David told us it had at a recent Bournemouth Gramophone Society meeting where he had been invited to present a programme of light music.
Unlike in November, new releases did not miss out this afternoon as they were given a good as the first interval approached. Albert and David brought us Heyken’s Serenade, an early Ron Goodwin single on the old Polygon label now restored by Alan Bunting on one of the new Guild ‘The Golden Age of Light Music’ CDs; the very descriptive Busy Streets from Roger Roger’s ‘Whimsical Days’ [Vocalion]; and Siboney, another of those tunes that always seem to get a good recording, this time arranged by Angela Morley and played by Sidney Torch [Living Era].
We then heard Rose, Rose, I Love You,a sprightly arrangement [Leon Young?] from Frank Chacksfield’s ‘South Sea Island Magic/In the Mystic East’ [Vocalion 2 CDs for the price of 1]; Body and Soul from ‘Delicado’, Mr Bunting’s best-selling double-CD on Living Era of early Percy Faith tracks; Dennis Farnon’s Girl Bird played by The New Concert Orchestra on Vocalion’s ‘Boosey & Hawkes Music Library Volume 1’; Monia Liter and his Orchestra’s Blue Fandango from the highly acclaimed – and not just by me – ‘Lovers in Rome/Lovers in Paris’ [Vocalion]; and, finally, in tribute to another of this year’s 80th birthday celebrants, Angela Morley, her Captain Nemo Film Theme from RFS member John Wilson and his Orchestra [Vocalion].
John was with us in the audience [without his orchestra] as were composer Matthew Curtis and Ann Dawson of Boosey Media. In his "parish notices" before we broke for refreshments, David introduced two overseas visitors: James Cahall, all the way from Kentucky just for this meeting, and Sigmund Groven from Oslo.
The final part of the afternoon brought more Radio Recollections by Brian Reynolds. This time he concentrated solely on recordings he had taken from ‘Music While You Work’ broadcasts: Lavoona [Bernard Monshin and his Rio Tango Band]; Tango Yvonne [Louis Voss and his Kursaal Orchestra]; Toni’s Tune [Michael Freedman and his Orchestra] and Bandarilla [Harold C Gee and his Maritza Players]. Memories for some, possibly almost unknown to others. There were more recent memories as we celebrated the life of the sadly departed Bob Monkhouse, a good friend to light music. We heard an extract from one of his Radio 2 ‘Legends of Light Music’ shows where he introduced RF’s Yes! We Have No Bananas and a very rare 78 of George Melachrino’s Spring Morning [subsequently re-issued on Guild GLCD 5104].
David got his personal selection in this time as he brought us "The ‘Lost’ CDs" – Farnon recordings that have never been released. These were Pia Zadorasinging Little Girl Blue, George Benson with One Goodbye, Eddie Fisher’s Love You Didn’t Do Right By Me, and Catana, a track intended for the Robert Farnon Orchestra’s ’At the Movies’ album. We also heard another item from Bob with Jane Pickles, Piccolo Flight. Albert had the final word telling us that the latest new recruit to the Society was a certain Mr Neil Hefti.
As David expressed his usual thanks to one and all, especially Tony Clayden, may I in retrospect on behalf of all of us present thank David and Albert for their afternoon’s exertions as our co-hosts.
ROBERT FARNON SOCIETY 2013 AUTUMN MEETING
--- The Finale ---
Brian Reynolds Reports on a Memorable Afternoon
It was a wet and dismal day on the 13th October, but that didn't stop over 100 fans of civilised music coming to 'The Bonnington' for the last time and celebrating the music of Robert Farnon, as we have done for 57 years. As it was important to go out on a 'high' we invited the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra to play some live music for us during the third part of the show.
After opening proceedings with Melody Fair, David Ades (who we were delighted to see back at the helm) welcomed us to the meeting and introduced Albert Killman (not that he really needed much introducing!)
We commenced with a video of the opening titles to the film Shalako - music by Robert Farnon and featuring the harmonica of Tommy Reilly. Following this, Albert introduced The Concorde March by Robert Farnon. It had been decided that, for this very special occasion, most of the recorded music would have a Farnon connection.
Albert then played us Vera Lynn's recording of Bob's beautiful arrangement of Through A Long And Sleepless Night - a recording that deserves to be heard more often. Next came four recordings by vocal artists who had associations with Farnon. Lena Horne sang I Have Dreamed, Frank Sinatra sang Carroll Gibbons' Garden in the Rain followed by Sarah Vaughn’s version of How Beautiful Is Night,concluding appropriately with Tony Bennett and At The End Of A Love Affair.
We continued with Robert Farnon’s love of traditional airs: firstly The Lincolnshire Poacher, followed by his Octet with Camptown Races from his Stephen Foster album.
Next, accompanied by Robert Farnon, we heard the trombone of J.J. Johnson in Lament (which won Bob his Grammy) followed by Lady be Good featuring George Shearing with Bob's orchestra.
We then turned to Robert Farnon the composer with Seventh Heaven (conducted by John Wilson) and a performance by Bob with the BBC Concert Orchestra (featuring Kenny Baker) of Scherzo for Trumpet. At the end of this was part of an interview with Bob, talking to announcer John Dunn.
The next item was in the form of a musical quiz in which four light pieces were woven together, namely 20th Century Express by Trevor Duncan, Paper Chase by Cyril Watters, Beachcomber by Clive Richardson and Practice makes Perfect by Wally Stott. These were a ‘taster’ for their forthcoming release on a new Guild CD "Bright Lights", due to be issued in November. For some strange reason a rumour had been circulating that the changes at the RFS would mean the ending of new Guild CDs. David pointed out that this was certainly not the case. His work producing the Guild Light Music CDs is entirely separate from his RFS duties, and he and Alan Bunting were already preparing new titles to be released in 2014.
To conclude the first part of our programme, Albert introduced part of a video compilation that was produced by Geoffrey Richardson for the Society's 50th anniversary. It included a long list of the light music composers, musicians, celebrities and broadcasters who had attended our London meetings over the years. What a testament to the influence the RFS has had in keeping the Light Music flag flying.
We commenced the second part of our programme with a video of part of the BBC television show of a few years back "A Little Light Music - Music for Everyone". This excerpt concentrated on Robert Farnon, and included items from RFS archives.
Tony Clayden then came forward to talk about the future of meetings for light music lovers - Yes! There is a future; not at the 'Bonnington' admittedly, but in cooperation with the Light Music Society, at the Lancaster Hall Hotel near Paddington Station. The first meeting has been arranged for Sunday, May11th 2014, when we hope to have, as our special guest, Brian Culverhouse, (former EMI light music record producer) in conversation with Malcolm Walker (former Editor of 'Gramophone' magazine). The phrase 'use it or lose it' comes to mind because if there is a good turn-out, meetings will continue, but if only a handful of people turn up then further meetings will not be financially viable. So it's up to you!
David Ades then introduced our President, David Farnon who presented a selection of recordings which had a special meaning for his father. The first was I Am What I Am recorded by Pia Zadora with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Bob's direction. This was followed by I loved You (Klaus Oberman) featuring the Singers Unlimited. Then a piece which was very nostalgic for Bob as it was written by his brother Brian - Christmas Land (featuring Tony Bennett). David Farnon continued with a composition by his son Tom, which was entitled Handyman. We then heard Bob's Lady Barbara Theme from the album 'Lovers Love London' conducted by Jack Parnell. Finally, we listened toTrumpet Talk featuring the trumpets of Stan Roderick and Kenny Baker - who Robert Farnon once described as 'having the best chops in the business'!
David Farnon concluded by thanking everybody for their support over the years -support which meant a great deal to his father. Indeed, when the Society was first set up, Bob felt very flattered. David went on to thank David Ades, who was then given a standing ovation. David Farnon concluded by mentioning that the Society would live on in the form of the website, which is shortly to be re-vamped.
David Ades then thanked Malcolm Osman, Tony Clayden and Albert Killman with a personal gift in appreciation of the support they had given him over the years. I don't know what the gifts were, but at least they didn't explode!
We concluded the second part of our programme with a video of the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Robert Farnon playing A Farnon Fantasy.
We wanted our final meeting to really go out in style, so we were delighted that the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra agreed to play for us once again. Many will recall their performance at the Haydn Wood concert a few years ago. They began with Fred Hartley's familiar Hampden Roar and this was followed by La Patrouilette (I think the composer's name is McKay). After Robert Farnon's familiarWestminster Waltz we listened to The Sparrow Concerto followed by the curiously-titled At the Codfish Ball by the appropriately-named Lew Pollack. Next we heard Robert Schumann's Slumber Song after which we were woken up by Whistling Rufus (Kerry Mills). Another unusual title followed - I've Joined The Squirrel Family by Helen Trix.
After a short break, the orchestra continued with You're Too Pretty To Be True by Peter Kreuger and two more Farnon favourites - Sea Shore and the catchy Moomin.
Then followed Drifting and Dreaming, (Alstyne and Schmidt) - one of several delightful duets from the orchestra's excellent singers, Liz Menezes and Camilla Cutts. Next, a request from me, Charles Williams's Rhythm On Rails which sounded really great. This was followed by I Don't Care If The Sun Don't Shine by Mack David,and a new piece to me called Obstinacy (I didn't catch the name of the composer - sorry!)
To conclude the programme, the orchestra played the most appropriate of pieces Journey Into Melodyby Robert Farnon. We are most grateful to them for providing a fitting finale to our last meeting at 'The Bonnington', for which there was a huge turn-out. Hope to see most of you again on May11th at the Lancaster Hall Hotel for another afternoon of Light Music.
This report appeared in the December 2013 issue of Journal Into Melody.
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.
ROSEMARY SQUIRES CAPTURES RFS MEMBERS’ HEARTS!
Brian Reynolds reports on a Memorable London Meeting
The date was October 16th 2011 and it was time, once again, for our Autumn extravaganza - somewhat special on this occasion (our 55th anniversary) as we had some live music to come in the third part of our programme, with a very special guest. We assembled at the Bonnington Hotel (as we prefer to call it) and found ourselves in a newly refurbished suite in the basement. We had expected to be back in our usual room, but due to a misunderstanding, this did not happen - but we shall definitely be back there in May!
As members took their seats, we heard the MGM Jubilee Overture from the new EMI CD 'That's Entertainment' - played by the John Wilson orchestra. This was followed by the introduction from 'Mike Todd's Broadway' LP played by the Robert Farnon orchestra. As the music faded, David Ades welcomed us to the meeting, giving a particular welcome to David Farnon and his two sons, Tom and George.
The programme proper opened with Get me to the Church on Time featuring the Robert Farnon orchestra, a track from a forthcoming Vocalion release.
Our friend Forrest Patten had recently lost his wife Nancy and had particularly requested that we playA Promise of Spring in her memory. This was from a CD recorded at Watford Town Hall back in August 1991 and was played by the Royal Philharmonic orchestra under the direction of Robert Farnon.
Albert Killman then introduced a recording of Doris Day with Andre Previn, My One and only Love and David introduced Cyril Ornadel and his Orchestra with Winifred Atwell (piano) in Moonlight Fiesta. This served as a tribute to our member Cyril Ornadel who died recently. It reminded me of an occasion nearly thirty years ago when I met Cyril during a broadcast of his 'Starlight Symphony' arrangements, specially recreated in the Maida Vale studios, for 'Music While You Work'.
Next, Albert presented a video of Ronnie Scott (Tenor Sax) with the Victor Feldman Trio playing Bob'sSummer Love on an early BBC2 programme 'Jazz 625'
This was followed by the Roy Budd Trio playing a jazz arrangement of Ding Dong Merrily on High. This was played in honour of Sylvia Budd (Roy Budd's widow) who was in the audience.
Next, a super piece of light music, Edelma by the late Terig Tucci, played by the Percy Faith Orchestra. This piece has always been a particular favourite of mine! We then heard David Rose and his orchestra playThe Rose of Bel-Air from a new Guild CD 'The Lost Transcriptions – Volume 3'
David Ades then explained the implication of the new 70 year copyright legislation recently passed by Brussels, pointing out that it will have little effect on Guild CDs as it will not be made retroactive - that is to say - everything currently out of copyright will remain so. Also, the new proposals will not become law until ratified by the EU countries, which could take up to a couple of years. So material recorded up to the early sixties will always be available to companies such as Guild to reissue without infringing copyright.
Another new CD from Guild is 'The Art of the Arranger - Volume 1' ( a hint that there is to be a volume 2!) From this we heard the Angela Morley (as Wally Stott) orchestra playing a Morley arrangement of Carroll Coates' London by Night. This was originally on a Philips LP - 'London Pride'.
We then heard a track from an album called 'Cooking with the lid on' featuring the Skelton/Skinner band (John Wilson with Colin Skinner (vibes) and Barry Skelton (drums). David then introduced the George Melachrino Orchestra with Christmas Alphabet from the new Guild CD 'Christmas Celebration'
After this, David introduced our old friend John Fox, who signed some copies of his book' My Musical World', in the interval. David also told us of the resurrection of UK LIght Radio which, initially would take the form of two hours of programming on Radio Six International (www.radiosix.com) usually around 4.00pm every Sunday afternoon, commencing November 6th.
The first section of our programme concluded with a video of the John Wilson orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, playing There's no Business Like Show Business. How do you follow that?
Well, you don't! You take the first interval!
Suitably refreshed, we returned to our seats, and Tony Claydon introduced our President, David Farnon who had kindly come along to talk to us about the extensive Farnon family, most of whom shared Bob's musical talent and had enjoyed considerable success. We had a video screen available, so David showed us pictures of Bob's parents, Elsie and Robert who were accomplished performers of the piano and violin respectively. To use a biblical phrase, they begat Nora, Brian, Dennis and, of course, Robert Farnon. We then listened to Brian Farnon's Christmas Land featuring Tony Bennett and arranged by Bob, whose younger brother Dennis (now 88) was featured in his composition Caution, Men Swinging - the title track of an LP of the same name, which has been reissued by Vocalion. We then heard Resume Speed from the same album, also written by Dennis. We then watched 'Mr Magoo' on the video screen, again accompanied by music written by Dennis Farnon. One final piece from Dennis followed and that was his opening theme from Bouquet of Barbed Wire.
David then went on to talk about Brian Farnon's daughters Sharon and Charmian; indeed we then turned to the video to see and hear Charmian perform 'Sixteen going on Seventeen' from "The Sound of Music". Brian's daughter Darlene was the eldest of three sisters, with a string of television series to her credit. So we watched her in a sequence from 'Streets of San Francisco'.
Back in the UK, jazz singer and bass player Nicola Farnon was then seen performing The Lady is a Tramp.
Trumpeter Tom Walsh (Bob's grandson) was then featured in 'Bah Humbug' - performing with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Is there no end to this Farnon family talent? They must surely have been cloned!
David Farnon had brought his two sons with him on this occasion and we hope that they enjoyed sampling the activities of the Society.
David concluded with two performances from his son Tom, firstly in Glowing Panorama from the film 'Fatalis' and this was followed by Saucy Date thus concluding a fascinating presentation.
It just remained for David to draw the raffle, after which we took another break whilst the stage was prepared for the live music that was to follow.
Unfortunately, during the course of David Farnon's presentation the lights went out on several occasions, making it very difficult for a humble scribe such as myself to accurately chronicle the contents of the presentation, let alone read them afterwards! I still haven't deciphered the bit that I wrote on my trousers!
So please excuse any errors or omissions!
It really was a special day. Having been honoured by the presence of our President we were now to be entertained by that show business stalwart Rosemary Squires, MBE - who apart from her fine qualities as a singer and entertainer is one of nicest people in show business – and for many years a member of our society.
Her performance for us took the form of one of her stage presentations, in which she told us little anecdotes about her career in between the songs.
She was accompanied throughout by bass player Simon Thorpe and the famous broadcasting pianist Brian Dee, who has played regularly for her over the years.
Rosemary opened with The Song is You, followed by a Judy Garland medley, comprising I'm just wild about Harry, Good Morning, Our Love Affair and You Made me Love You. Next came a monologue entitled A Pair of Brown Boots.
Rosemary, reminding us that earlier in her career she had recorded as 'Joanne and the Streamliners' then performed the comic song Frankfurter Sandwiches. In more conventional style she then sangSometimes a day goes by.
Rosemary is also well-known for television commercials and she proceeded to sing us a few bars of 'Fry's Turkish Delight', 'Mackeson's', 'Skol lager', 'Comfort', 'Knorr Beef Stock', 'Coffeemate' and of course the one for which she is most remembered - 'Fairy Liquid'. You know how it goes - The hands that do dishes can feel soft as your face with mild green Fairy Liquid !
Commercials over, Rosemary introduced her pianist, Brian Dee who played Misty for us.
Appropriately, Rosemary followed this with I Love a Piano and Hello Dolly in which she did an amazing impersonation of Louis Armstrong - not just his voice, but a vocal version of his trumpet playing, which really brought the house down!
Then, as a tribute to Ray Ellington she sang Nice Work if you Can Get It followed by Mack the Knife.
Rosemary has often been called 'The British Doris Day' so it was fitting that she concluded her performance with a tribute to her, singing Whatever Will Be, Will Be followed by They Can't Take That Away from Me.
So ended a very special performance by a lady who remains ever-youthful and who certainly brought a sparkle to our meeting - without the use of Fairy Green Liquid!
It just remained for David to thank Rosemary and all who had participated in the afternoon's entertainment. However, it wasn't time to go yet and Rosemary joined us for a buffet - and I have to say that the hotel really did us proud, with what for me, was the best buffet I have ever tasted!
We shall all be back in May for another special treat - as the superb nine-piece London Salon Ensemble will be our guests in an afternoon of light music.
Brian Reynolds reports on the recent London Meeting of the Robert Farnon Society on 28th November 2010
I wondered whether I should head this report 'Winter Wonderland' in view of the bitterly cold weather which much of the country had been experiencing. Certainly our decision to move the dates of our future meetings was well and truly vindicated. Little did we know what was in store for us, weather-wise, in the coming weeks! At least we could look forward to the warm and cosy ambience of the Park Inn. However, we arrived at the hotel to find it completely changed, with warm reds and gold replaced by cold greys and mauve. There was a minimalist feel about the refurbishment which left the hotel looking marginally more welcoming than a morgue!
The elegant opulence of the hotel had certainly given way to "progress" and we even found ourselves in a different room, just until refurbishment is completed.
However, regardless of surroundings, one thing that will never change is the high quality of the music at our gatherings.
To our delight, David Ades, who had been unable to attend the previous two meetings, was back on the top table and proceedings got under way with Robert Farnon's Canadian Caravan played by Leslie Jones and his Orchestra of London, and this was followed by Bob's super march Colditz - very appropriate as the fine drama series for which it was written had recently been rebroadcast. From a 1976 session with Bob, we then heard Lena Horne sing Softly As I Leave You and this was followed byTear It Up, a piano novelty written by the recently deceased Derek Boulton, under the pen-name of Derek Nelson.
David Ades then handed over to yours truly for my customary "Radio Recollections". As there was a lot to fit in today's programme, I chose three short and lively pieces from yesterday's radio. To open, I played a fast and furious string number, wittily called Bow Jest, by its composer, Eric Jupp and played by pianist, Norman Whiteley and his Sextet. Next, a foot-tapping little opus by the well known conductor Norrie Paramor, Taverna played by Jack Salisbury and his orchestra, who were for many years resident at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. To conclude, we heard a samba by an old friend of the society, Cyril Watters, entitled Pancho From Peru. This was played by Anton and his orchestra, one of the best of the session music orchestras from the days of the Light Programme. I don't think any of these pieces have been commercially recorded. So many light pieces that were written primarily for radio never found their way on to disc and are now forgotten - a pity, as some are really good.
Next, David played Eddie Fishers' recording My Shining Hour - once again accompanied by Bob. This came from the 1995 sessions that have not, so far, been released.
It was then André Leon's turn to come to the top table - with a feature which he called "Big Screen, Little Screen." He began with the Newsnight theme by George Fenton (real name George Howe). We then heard a recording of the composer explaining how he came to write it. This was followed by theGandhi closing titles - apparently Fenton collaborated with Ravi Shanka). Next we heard the theme from The Blue Planet and the signature tune from the TV series Shoestring.
Some music by Geoffrey Burgon was then featured. Firstly, the title music from Brideshead Revisitedwith talkover by Jeremy Irons. This was followed by the Choir of Chichester Cathedral singing Nunc Dimitus, the music from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Our meetings always try to reflect anniversaries and deaths in the months since we last met - and there were really quite a few to consider on this occasion but time is always our enemy and some had to be omitted. However, we could hardly ignore the 100th birthday of Edmundo Ros on the 6th December. So to celebrate this legendary bandleader's centenary we played one of his biggest hitsThe Coffee Song.
Time now for some new releases, beginning with Strike Up The Band from the RAF Concert Orchestra conducted by Sidney Torch (Guild). Next we heard the Phil Green orchestra playing She's My Lovelybelieved to feature the trumpet of Kenny Baker. This is from a new Vocalion CD called 'Moments In Mayfair'.
Back to Sidney Torch and the RAF Concert Orchestra for some film music arranged by Len Stevens - the title of which is unknown. We were lucky to have this as it was from a transcription disc discovered by Philip Farlow. Finally, in this section we listened to Philip Lane's London Salute.
This brought us to the end of part one and it was time for some refreshments.
Our special guest for the afternoon was former BBC Producer Anthony Wills and it was decided that the best way to present him was by way of an interview. Robert Habermann was the interviewer and the conversation was punctuated with pieces of music of Anthony's choice.
By way of an introduction we listened to a 1989 performance of I Hear Music played by the BBC Radio Orchestra conducted (appropriately, in view of his recent death) by Neil Richardson. Anthony had considerable dealings with the Radio Orchestra over the years and went on to tell us of the various constituent parts of the orchestra. It was often broken down into smaller ensembles (the Radio Big-Band being the best known), but over the years other combinations such as The Radio Players and other, often short-lived titles such as the Saturday Showband and the Swinging Strings were utilised. The Radio Orchestra was of course formed in 1964 by combining the BBC Variety Orchestra and Revue Orchestra and at its peak had 75 players.
We listened to the Geoff Love Orchestra playing Leslie Julian Jones's Postman's Knock and to Sarah Vaughan singing Robert Farnon's How Beautiful is Night.
Many will associate Anthony Wills with 'Friday Night is Music Night' but during his long career he also produced 'Marching And Waltzing', 'Glamorous Nights' and the John Dunn, Gloria Hunniford, and Brian Matthew shows. His association with 'Listen To The Band' came about when he was approached with the line "You like jazz, don't you - how about producing 'Listen to the Band!' - This was, of course,NOT a jazz show but a feature for brass and military bands. Anthony told us that whilst Charlie Chester presented the show, the script was actually written by Brian Matthew as 'Cheerful Charlie' was not an authority on brass and military bands. He was however, an accomplished composer and a fine artist.
We then listened to Rosemary Squires with the Eric Winstone Orchestra playing Sea Breeze.
Anthony then told us about a music series which he produced, called 'The Golden Days Of Radio' which ran for about six months. He also made documentary programmes on David Whitfield, Michael Holliday, Fred Astaire and Ethel Merman. We then listened to a comedy song from Ronald Frankau.
Anthony told us of his involvement with the BBC's Religious Broadcasting Department, when he produced some editions of 'Songs of Praise'. He also produced a series called 'The World Dances' and we heard a medley of tunes from that series, which included The Charleston, I Wonder Where my Baby is Tonight, Black Bottom, in a recording conducted by Stanley Black. (Perhaps that's why he included Black Bottom!)
Anthony told us of his work with Alan Dell on various shows, including 'Sounds Easy', which he illustrated with the concluding item of a selection from Stella by Starlight, followed by the closing signature tune of the programme. From 'Steve Race Presents...' we heard Salena Jones with Neil Richardson and the Radio Orchestra. Anthony, who also produced 'The David Jacobs Show' concluded his presentation with a selection from 'Oklahoma' featuring the Steven Hill Singers with the BBC Radio Orchestra conducted by Stanley Black.
After the raffle, it was now time for another interval.
The third part of our extravaganza opened with the ever-enthusiastic Paul Barrett giving us a Mantovani tribute. Paul's concerts with the new Mantovani orchestra have had an enthusiastic reaction and we were also pleased to welcome his producer, Franck Leprince (who was in the audience.) With the aid of video, Paul played us excerpts from the third concert, which included The Count of Luxembourg Waltz, Delilah and Around the World (featuring the trumpet of Mike Lovett).
Next to come to the top table was an old friend of the Society, Tony Foster, whose theme today was the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Tony commenced with Spitfire Prelude (Walton) played by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force conducted by Barry Hingley, their Director of Music who, I think, held the rank of Wing Commander at the time. This was followed by Ron Goodwin's Luftwaffe March (sometimes known as Aces High) and lastly the Battle of Britain Theme (Goodwin) - the end title music.
David Ades then played the final section of a fourteen minute work by David Rose - Le Papillon. This was one of Rose's last compositions.
To conclude, in more serious style, David played us Robert Farnon's American Wind Symphony (The Gaels) conducted by Dr. Stanley Saunders.
That brought to an end a very full programme (so full that we had to leave many scheduled pieces of music out). Earlier in the programme, David read apologies for absences from David Farnon, Peter and Ellen Burt, Peter and Silvia Rix and conveyed the good wishes of Alan Bunting in Scotland (wouldn't it be nice if he could come and talk to us one day?). It just remained for David to thank everybody who taken part and we went on our way to Bob's Melody Fair.
This report first appeared in ‘Journal Into Melody’ issue 187, March 2011.
REMEMBERING THE MUSIC OF ANGELA MORLEY
The Robert Farnon Society London Meeting Sunday 29th November 2009
by Brian Reynolds
Once again the months had rolled by and it was time for our 'Autumnfest' featuring the best in light and popular music, with the emphasis this time being on the music of Angela Morley (Wally Stott) who had passed away early in the year.
As there was a lot of music to get in, we started a few minutes early and the audience took their seats to the accompaniment of the BBC Radio Orchestra conducted by Iain Sutherland, playing a selection of Irving Berlin melodies arranged by Robert Farnon.
It was then time for Albert Killman to welcome everyone to the meeting. One thing that was immediately noticeable was the absence of David Ades, who was in bed with the lurgi (not that it any of our business who he goes to bed with!) To be serious though, David had a chest infection and had been ordered by his doctor not to travel. I am sure that he was most disappointed to miss his first meeting in 45 years - some record! Let's hope that he is now fully recovered and will be his usual sparkling self at the next meeting.
We were then treated to a DVD of the opening overture from John Wilson's magnificent and highly successful Promenade Concert featuring the MGM musicals. After this Robert Farnon (in a Canadian interview) introduced 'Scherzando for Trumpet and Orchestra' played by the CBC Winnipeg Orchestra, conducted by Eric Wilde.
It was now time for my regular Radio Recollections spot. I had been asked to play something by Steve Race, by way of a tribute to this artist who had died earlier in the year. I chose 'Nicola' which Steve had written in honour of his newly-born daughter and which was probably his best known composition. It was played by Michael Freedman and his orchestra and featured the two pianos of Edward Rubach and Robert Docker. To continue, I played a very exciting paso doble by pianist Albert Marland entitled ‘Bandarilla’, performed by Harold C.Gee and his Maritza Players. Harold C. Gee is largely forgotten today but he had a thirty year career of regular broadcasting and was part of the fabric of the old Light Programme. He died in 1973. Next I played two consecutive pieces from a 'Music While You Work' by Ralph Elman and his Bohemian Players - Ralph was the nephew of the well-known classical violinist Misha Elman. The two pieces were 'Miss Melanie' by Ronald Binge and 'Silly Billy' by Norrie Paramor who, in his last years, conducted the BBC Midland Radio Orchestra. To conclude my section of the programme I played an exciting piece by Yvoire entitled ‘Cresta Run’featuring the BBC West of England Light Orchestra under their conductor Frank Cantell.
We then heard a piece called 'Estate', pronounced 'Eshtaty' - meaning 'Summer' - arranged by Robert Farnon and played by the BBC Concert Orchestra, with featured trombonist Gordon Campbell. At this point, Daniel Smith, featured soloist in Bob's Concerto for Bassoon, talked to us and played a recording of his performance of Break out Blues by George Shearing.
A Farnon original was next – ‘Manhattan Playboy’ played with great panache by Rawicz and Landauer with orchestral accompaniment under the direction of the composer.
Paul Barrett was then invited to the stage to talk about his third Mantovani Concert Spectacular, which will take place in the Spring.
To conclude the first part of the programme, and perhaps give us a taste of what was to come in the second part of the show, Albert played us a Wally Stott arrangement of ‘Oranges and Lemons’ played by the Wally Stott orchestra.
Suitably refreshed, we returned to our seats to the strains of ‘Angel Cake’ by Wally Stott. The tribute to Wally/Angela began with Albert reading out an appreciative letter from Angela's partner, Christine. This was followed (on DVD,) by an excerpt from John Wilson's televised 'Friday Night is Music Night' of a few years back, in which he played 'A Canadian in Mayfair' - written by Angela Morley as a tribute to Robert Farnon. It was, of course, performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra with an introduction from Roy Hudd.
Phil Farlow then took the stage to talk about the early career of Wally Stott and played excerpts from 'Tip Top Tunes' with Geraldo and his orchestra, featuring Dick James, The Geraldtones and Carole Carr, who sang ‘All Alone’. Wally Stott was, in fact, a member of Geraldo's orchestra, which then played the Stott arrangement of 'Adios'. We then saw (on DVD) some archival film of Angela Morley speaking at our past meetings and this was followed by excerpts from the films 'The Slipper and the Rose’ and 'Watership Down' featuring Angela's score for these films. We continued with the themes from 'Hancock's Half Hour' and 'The Goon Show'.
It was now the turn of harpist/pianist/conductor David Snell to take the stage and tell us of his association with Angela Morley. He then played us the end titles from ‘Captain Nemo and the Underwater City’, in which he had participated, but not underwater!
Albert then introduced ‘County Fair' featuring Mel Torme with the Wally Stott orchestra.
It is always a pleasure to welcome the ever-youthful Rosemary Squires to our meetings. She presented some recordings which she had made with Wally/Angela. First we heard ‘Junior and Julie’which was followed by ‘Thou Swell’ and an Angela Morley arrangement of ‘All Too Soon’ which featured Kenny Baker (flugelhorn) and Keith Bird (saxophone). Rosemary then played us Angela'sReverie for piano and violin and concluded with a selection of Christmas Waltzes (arranged Morley).
It was now time for the second interval, and we went to our refreshments to the accompaniment of the John Wilson Orchestra playing Wally Stott's ‘Snow Ride’.
We returned to our seats to the accompaniment of Robert Farnon playing ‘Get me to the Church on Time’.
It was then back to the big screen to watch a DVD of an interview with Bob Farnon - the interviewer being Bernard Braden.
This turned out to be very illuminating as Bob pulled no punches when it came to expressing his opinion as to what he thought of modern pop and its perpetrators! This was followed by a recording of Alan Dell talking to George Shearing and Angela Christian, who then performed Bob's ‘How Beautiful is Night’.
André Leon then came to the stage to report on the latest situation with UK Light Radio, which has been off the air for some months. André is, however, hopeful that further test transmissions will start early in the new year, and outlined the proposed format. We then heard a part of the ‘Miss Marple Theme’ (which will be the background theme to various trailers) and Leroy Anderson's ‘Sleigh Ride’which will be the conclusion to a presentation by David Ades, scheduled to be broadcast in 2010.
Albert Killman then gave a tribute to Malcolm Laycock, an old friend of the Society, who had recently passed away. It will be recalled that, upon Alan Dell's death, Malcolm took over his dance band programme and had been presenting it since1995. There was quite an outcry a year ago when the BBC in its infinite wisdom (or lack of it) decreed that the vintage British dance bands should no longer be featured in the programme. This, together with other differences with the BBC led to Malcolm's resignation in July 2009. To conclude his tribute to this respected broadcaster, Albert played the final part of one of his shows, which ended with ‘Just One of those Things’.
At the request of Norman Grant, Albert played ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ featuring Tony Bennett with the Robert Farnon Orchestra after which he thanked everybody who had contributed to the show. It goes without saying that Albert did a first rate job of presenting the afternoon's programme, but I know that a few people felt that it wasn't quite the same without David, whose presence we look forward to on the 28th March, when our special guest will be pianist and organist Iain Kerr.
WALLY STOTT – THE "TIP-TOP TUNES" YEARS
BY Philip Farlow
When it was decided to dedicate part of the November 2009 Robert Farnon Society meeting to the work of Angela Morley, I swiftly communicated a wish of mine that the very important formative years playing and arranging for Geraldo’s orchestra should be included in a special ‘cameo’ presentation. The vehicle for this early work was a BBC programme called Tip-Top Tunes and the idea here would be to illustrate briefly all the main elements of a typical programme with a particular focus on the early arranging skills of Wally Stott, later Angela Morley.
Back in May 2009 David Ades had fully supported the idea which was duly accepted by the London Meeting Committee allowing me to set to work on a presentation that I’d suggested to do at least minimum justice to the subject would be no less than ten but not more than fifteen minutes long.
Such often necessary constrictions certainly focuses one on what you really want to say and play and so on and off, over the next few months, I set to with a small but rare selection of broadcast material working out just how the dickens I was going to fit everything into my allotted slot.
Over the years my various presentation experiences with such projects has hopefully taught me the important patterns of how to start, how to finish and how to create and maintain narrated and musical contrast and interest in between.
More recently I discussed with David Ades the fact that perhaps many including worldwide members not able to attend last November’s meeting may be interested in a more detailed description of the final result. So here are my ‘almost verbatim’ notes interspersed with detail of music used and its source.
I started by explaining that as ... (P.F.): "Walter or Wally Stott was the name by which Angela Morley was known until the early 1970’s – and as certainly during the mid 1940’s period I’m dealing withhere, to keep things chronologically correct I’d like to refer to that name during my presentation.
"Bandleader Geraldo’s BBC Radio series ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ started in 1946 and quickly caught on, not only as a ‘must listen’ for the general public, but its very high standard of musicianship ensured a good audience by the dance band and light music profession as well.
"It’s interesting to note that ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ filled the spot previously occupied by Bob Farnon’s Canadian Army Radio orchestra’s series ‘Soldier Serenade’. There were certain similarities in the two programmes’ style as well, which were juggled, modified and added to, to become this new cocktail of the best in the widest sense of popular music entertainment of the period, as presented by this bigconcert sized orchestra of Geraldo’s.
"The ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ signature tune was written by Wally Stott. How it developed to be used is unclear – but what is very evident is that Wally delivered just exactly what was required.
"To set the mood, here’s an example of a programme opening sequence from 1947".
Cue Insert: BBC Light programme identification ‘Oranges and Lemons’ (Charles Smart – Novachord & Celeste) into continuity announcement (Jean Metcalfe) into ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ theme and part voiced over announcement by Peter King.
I then went on to explain (P.F.): "And now some brief examples of the kind of things heard in a typical ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ programme. "There were ballads by solo singers, a vocal group, there was small group swing, the big band with and without strings and of course the tour-de-force of the whole large concert orchestra. This is the musical climate in which Wally Stott was working at the time, (Cue music under) and it was in fact as far as I can see, his first foray into string writing. "Amongst the singers handling the ballads in the early ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ series were Archie Lewis, Sally Douglas, Denny Vaughan (recently Bob’s of course) – and here in a ‘Songs with Strings’ spot, Carole Carr.Fade up music: ‘Blue Bayou’ – Carole Carr and strings
This was the start of a five minute carefully constructed, timed and edited music sequence which I voiced over explaining all the various elements of the ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ programme that I had chosen. Carole Carr was followed by (P.F.): "... and another singer with the whole orchestra here, Dick James" Fade up music: ‘Along the Navajo Trail’. Then (P.F.): "there was always a vocal spot by Gerry’s resident vocal group, the Geraldtones" Fade up music: ‘Little Jack Frost get lost’followed by (P.F.): "and how about this for a lineup during a little quite boppish jazz spot" Faded up Peter King announcement & music: ‘Get Happy’ played by ‘The Tip Toppers’ (King’s announcement, ‘..swing arranged for small combination..’) demonstrating the very high standard of personnel within only a part of Geraldo’s Tip-Top Tunes orchestra namely Freddy Clayton – trumpet, Dougie Robinson – clarinet, Keith Bird – tenor sax, Laddie Busby – trombone, Jack Collier – double bass, Denny Vaughan – piano, Ivor Mairants – guitar and Eric Delaney – drums. Finally during this sequence I explained that (P.F.): "... a spot called ‘Swingtime’ presented the big band, sometimes without strings – and sometimes like here – with" Fade up music: ‘Cherokee’. (Ending the five minute voiced over sequence).
(P.F): "The backbone to this wonderful musical aggregation was of course some very talentedarranging skills – and in the early days of Geraldo’s ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ programme Bob Farnon was amongst these – together with a young man – still in his early twenties also occupying a place in Geraldo’s sax section – and that was Wally Stott. And like Bob Farnon, and listening to Bob’s arranging skills at work, Wally was developing a very quick ear as to exactly what to deliver in both big band – and now in string writing – because there’s no doubt about it that Wally’s arranging work within Geraldo’s ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ series shone like a very bright beacon – and particularly within those many exotic production type arrangements of which one was included in nearly every programme. Things like ‘Cherry Ripe’, ‘Oranges and lemons’, ‘April in Paris’, ‘The Kerry Dance’, ‘The March of the Toys’ and in this archive broadcast piece, Wally’s work reached perhaps an all-time high" Cue faded up Peter King announcement & music: ‘Adios’ arranged by Wally Stott for the full orchestra and vocal group, the Geraldtones, followed by (an only example from an earlier programme), a ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ programme close sequence part voiced over by the programme’s original producer and presenter David Miller.
So ended my presentation at last November’s R.F.S. special Angela Morley meeting. In the course of researching for it I noted, though didn’t mention the fact that apart from Wally Stott and Bob Farnon, over the years a whole host of arrangers were used throughout the ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ series including Alyn Ainsworth, Eric Jupp, Roland Shaw and Bob Sharples. ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ ran into the 1950s but became shorter and more infrequent as the decade wore on.
Further notes: Having had access to some of the surviving original radio excerpts of the ‘Tip-Top Tunes’ series (see below) it was interesting to note how a typical programme included carefully ‘written in’ linking modulations by (say) harp, celeste, or even the whole or parts of the orchestra to accompany equally carefully timed announcements for changes of programme tempo, mood and key. Hearing some of these often intricate and quite beautiful ‘compositions in miniature’ certainly indicates the presence of both Wally’s and Bob’s additional work on certainly the parts of the series heard.
On a technical note the sources used for the archive links were either directly or indirectly from a combination of Geraldo’s own circa 1946 to 1948 original off-air acetates some of which had been poorly used in the mid 1970’s Pickwick 2-LP set ‘Hits of the naughty Forties’. In the course of carrying out later work for Manja Geraldo-Leigh’s Family I was, with permission, able to retain some elements of that which I had worked on. Although the company that ‘cut’ these for Geraldo (Gui de Buire, New Bond Street, London) was capable of producing excellent ‘balanced landline’ quality, a combination of speed variations between sides or sets of sides and other non ideal local conditions meant that the received sound often needed tidying up in various ways. I carried out some minimal work on the versions used at the November meeting and felt it paid off producing an overall smooth technical end result. Geraldo archive: It is thought that Geraldo’s unique collection of surviving radio reference recordings is held by the Royal College of Music. An equally unique collection of original music scores and band parts are certainly known to be deposited at the R.C.M. and have been actively drawn on by John Wilson for specialised broadcast, recording and other performance occasions.
Editor: some of Wally Stott’s arrangements for Geraldo’s "Tip Top Tunes" Orchestra were recorded by Parlophone, and the following have been reissued on Guild Light Music CDs:
The Kerry Dance GLCD5162 Of The Toys GLCD5124