Vocalion CDLK4118 Presenting Robert Farnon / Flirtation Walk
"Presenting Robert Farnon": Yes! We Have No Bananas, Always, Blue Skies, In The Blue Of The Evening, When I Grow Too Old To Dream, Don’t Blame Me, To A Wild Rose, Dawn To Dusk, Laura. "Flirtation Walk": Would You Like To Take A Walk, Reflections In The Water, It’s Always You, Two Little Girls In Blue, Sweet And Lovely, So Do I, Flirtation Walk, By A Waterfall, Can I Forget You, It’s Easy To Remember, Flirtation Waltz, Down By The River, My Foolish Heart, I Love A Lassie.
Vocalion CDLK4137 Victor Schertzinger Suite / Hoagy Carmichael Suite / Music Of Vincent Youmans
"Victor Schertzinger Suite": The Fleet’s In, Dream Lover, Sand In My Shoes, Marcheta, One Night Of Love, Kiss The Boys Goodbye – bonus tracks: Love Passes By, Tangerine. "Hoagy Carmichael Suite": My Resistance Is Low, Stardust, Little Old Lady, Georgia On My Mind, One Morning In May, Lazy Bones. "Music Of Vincent Youmans": Hallelujah, Tea For Two, Sometimes I’m Happy, Without A Song, Great Day, Orchids In The Moonlight, More Than You Know, Time On My Hands – bonus track: The Carioca.
Vocalion CDLK4146 The Wide World Of Robert Farnon
The Wide World, Olympian March, Rhapsody For Violin And Orchestra, Scenic Wonders, I Saw My Lady Weep, Swallow Flight, Lake Louise, The Magic Island, Cascades To The Sea, How Beautiful Is Night, Cruise World, Hollywood Stars, Sports Arena, Hockey Night.
Vocalion CDLK4174 The Songs Of Britain / Stephen Foster Melodies – plus 12 extra tracks
"The Songs Of Britain": British Grenadiers, Drink To Me Only, Lincolnshire Poacher, Londonderry Air, Strawberry Fair, Annie Laurie, All Through The Night, Early One Morning. "Stephen Foster Melodies": Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair, Swannee River, Deep River, Camptown Races, Oh! Susanna, Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming, Sweet And Low, Beautiful Dreamer. Additional tracks: April In Paris, Invitation Waltz, Just One Of Those Things, Kiss Me Again, Shadow Waltz, Donkey Serenade, Persian Nocturne, The Waltzing Cat, *Proud Canvas, *Bird Charmer, *Jockey On The Carousel, *Westminster Waltz. (*Robert Farnon compositions)
Vocalion CDLK4238 Showcase for Soloists – plus 18 extra tracks: all composed by Robert Farnon
"Showcase For Soloists": Trumpet Talk, Two’s Company, Piccolo Flight, Gentle Vibrations, A Violin Miniature, The Snow Goose, Travellin’ Jazz, Flute Fantasy, The Dame In Red, Clarinet Melange, Walkin’ Happy, Blue Waters. Additional tracks: Globe Trotting, Country Girl, Westbound Passage, Horn-a-Plenty, Shepherds’ Delight, Toyland Tattoo, Pleasure Drive, Sounds Of History, Little Miss Molly, Here Comes The Band, Doing The Raccoon, Power And Glory, Winter Jasmine, Portrait Of Lorraine, Closing The Ring, The Grand Alliance, Shepherds’ Warning, Western Panorama.
Robert Farnon compositions can be found on the following QUEEN’S HALL LIGHT ORCHESTRA CDs from Vocalion:
CDEA6021 Jumping Bean, Portrait Of A Flirt, Pictures In The Fire, High Street, Taj Mahal, Willie The Whistler.
CDEA6061 Proud Canvas, The Huckle-Buckle.
CDEA6094 All Sports March, State Occasion, Grandstand.
CDLK4274 The First Waltz, Dominion Day, Mr Punch, New Horizons, The Big Night, Headland Country, Holiday Flight, City Streets.
■ The eagerly awaited new CD of Robert Farnon compositions and arrangements, featuring the flautist Jane Pickles is now scheduled for recording next January. Readers will recall that the original sessions planned for last summer were delayed. For more information see page 3 of JIM 155 (June 2003).
■ Chris Laurence is one of the most in-demand double bass players in the country, and his range encompasses classical, jazz and studio work. It is hardly surprising that he chose the music profession, because his grandmother was the internationally renowned harpist Marie Goosens, for many years a familiar member of the Robert Farnon Orchestra. The Goosens family was famous on the English musical scene, and their descendants seem to be keeping up the tradition. Chris’s father, Tony, is a pianist, and his brother, Patrick (also a double bassist) is a member of the London Symphony Orchestra. Whenever a major film score is recorded in London, there is a good chance that Chris will be there (he was on the soundtrack of Leaving Las Vegas) and he frequently tours with guitarist John Williams. ‘Musician’ (the magazine of the Musicians’ Union) recently asked Chris with whom he would most like to collaborate on a musical project. His reply was: Robert Farnon. (with thanks to Paul Lewis for supplying this information)
■ The talented British flautist Arthur Gleghorn gave a virtuoso performance of Robert Farnon’s arrangement of Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, on a Decca 78 (F 8885) recorded by the Kingsway Symphony Orchestra conducted by ‘Toots’ Camarata. Leonard Statkin recently revealed on television that Gleghorn had been featured in the 1946 film Deception, which boasted a fine score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. In one scene an orchestra was rehearsing, and the conductor chided the flute player for making a mistake. The player (who was not at fault) was Arthur Gleghorn, who apparently played in the studio orchestra for a number of Hollywood film soundtracks around that time.
■ Marco Polo have recently deleted the CD of Robert Farnon compositions played by the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) conducted by Adrian Leaper (8223401) This was issued in 1992, so it has been in the catalogue for a longer time than most releases these days. In 1993 this album was awarded the prestigious Acadamie Charles Gros award in Paris. Fortunately all the compositions in this collection are available on other CDs, but if any members are anxious to get this particular CD please contact the RFS Record Service immediately – we only have a few copies left!
■ Several new Robert Farnon CDs are in the pipeline, so you can expect to read some good news in our next issue!
THE ROBERT FARNON SOCIETY SPRING 2013
MEETING reported by Brian Reynolds
It was time once again for the faithful to meet up for our bi-annual festival of melody at 'The Bonnington' - as we prefer to call it. Members and a few non-members trooped in, most of whom were blissfully unaware that this was to be our penultimate meeting! As mentioned elsewhere, David Ades is, for health reasons, having to relinquish his various roles in the Society, notably that of Editor of the magnificently presented Journal, a task which has taken up much of his waking hours over a good number of the last fifty years - a superb record. All of us have reason to be grateful to him for his enormous contribution, not only to the Society, but to light music in general.
In the absence of David, Albert Killman opened proceedings with Manhattan Playboy by Robert Farnon from a new CD conducted by Iain Sutherland
Albert then read out an apology for his absence from David, conveying his good wishes to the assembled multitude. We continued with a performance of I get a kick out of you (sounds painful!) conducted by Robert Farnon.
Paul Clatworthy then came to the top table and introduced Claire featuring the Metropole Orchestra conducted by Rob Pronk, followed by Slumbering Child and A piece of Cake.
Tony Clayden told the audience of the hard decisions that had been made regarding the Society. He explained that his announcement of the closure of the Society was one that he had hoped that he would never have to make. There was an audible gasp from members, followed by a stunned silence! Tony introduced Jan Mentha of the Light Music Society of which some of us are already members. It was suggested that with the demise of the Robert Farnon Society, members might wish to join this long-established society, which was formed in the mid-fifties to cater for lovers of melodious music. Sample magazines were provided to those who enquired and I understand that a considerable number of people expressed interest.
After this, it was time for my 'Radio Recollections' spot, which I have enjoyed presenting for many years. As usual, items were chosen from my large collection of vintage light music broadcasts. I began with a piece that would have been played at the previous meeting, had time permitted. This was 'Blackberry Pie' by Jean Harker, played by Reg Pursglove and the Albany Strings. I followed this with a lively joropo entitled Consuela by John Logan, played by Bernard Monshin and his Rio Tango Band. This gave me an opportunity to mention that, following receipt of some mint quality Bernard Monshin MWYW broadcasts, I had compiled them into a very full CD. Frank Bristow published these recordings in Australia and I had imported a batch so as to be able to sell them at the meeting. I'm pleased to say that all of them were purchased. The CD will be reviewed elsewhere in the journal.
I continued with a lovely Harold Geller arrangement of Annie Laurie, featuring the mandolin of Hugo D'Alton with the Harold Geller Orchestra. For my final item, I turned to the music of Jack Coles for a piece called Casbah played by the BBC Midland Light Orchestra under his direction.
Albert Killman then treated us to some music from David Rose and his Orchestra - Tiny Ballerina (who only danced in the key of C). We then turned to a recent Guild CD (Salon, Light and Novelty orchestras) for a terrific arrangement of 'Montague Ewing's Fairy on the Clock. This was followed by Roger Roger's 'Scenic Railway' from the Guild CD 'Fiddles and Bows'. The final CD to be represented was 'Cinema Classics' and we listened to part of 'Lady Barbara' (not sure which part!) from the Captain Hornblower music by Robert Farnon.
We then took our first interval.
After the interval Tony Clayden introduced our special guest for the afternoon, Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE, founder of the Filmharmonic concerts staged at the Royal Albert Hall in the seventies and eighties. Usually, at our meetings we interview our victim (sorry-guest!) but Sir Sydney (who is in his late eighties) chose to stand for an hour giving one of the most articulate and well-measured accounts that we have heard. He had also brought with him a number of special guests with whom he had worked over the years. These included 89 year old conductor John Gregory, a famous name from years gone by!
Apparently Sir Sydney had enjoyed a long friendship with film composer Nino Rota, and in 1969 had the idea of staging a big concert of film music conducted by several of the biggest names in the business, including Nino Rota, who it transpired was one of the least organised of those whom he invited!
The idea came to fruition in 1970, and Sir Sydney was surprised to find that each of his invited conductors were pleased to give their services free of charge - unfortunately that didn't apply to the large orchestra that was assembled, so it was a costly exercise. Nevertheless, every seat was sold and a follow-up concert was inevitable in 1971. I well remember attending it and enjoying the performances conducted by Frank Chacksfield, Nelson Riddle, David Rose, and Maurice Jarre. The concerts were staged for twelve years during the seventies and eighties.
Sir Sydney illustrated his talk with some video sequences taken at the concerts, the first of which was of Julie Andrews introducing Filmharmonic 74, followed by Toot,Toot, Tootsie, Goodbye and Mammyconducted by Ronnie Aldrich.
From the 1970 show we enjoyed the theme from Love Story conducted by its composer Francis Lai.
The final film sequence was of Henry Mancini. He opened with Moon River and was then featured at the piano in Charade, Dear Heart, The Sweetheart Tree, Days of Wine and Roses and concluding with a reprise of Moon River. The film sequences were a little jumpy in places, but it was wonderful that they existed at all, so they were much appreciated by everyone, as was Sir Sydney's very professional presentation.
Before taking our second break, we had the raffle, during which Sir Sydney was assisted by John Gregory's daughter.
We returned to our seats to the strains of The Best Things in Life are Free conducted by Robert Farnon.
Robert Habermann then came to the top table to talk to us about the recently deceased Edna Kaye and her husband, Stanley Black. We watched a short film sequence of Edna Kaye singing. She had worked with Carroll Gibbons whose orchestra was accompanying her in Darling. This was followed by Cole Porter's You'd we so nice to come home to.
Robert told us that Edna married Soloman Schwarz - whom we know better as Stanley Black. Stanley worked with a number of different bands over the years, and joined the Harry Roy band in 1936.
We then listened to Honeysuckle Rose which featured Coleman Hawkins with Stanley at the piano.
As those of us who are familiar with Stanley Black's music will be aware, he had a great love of Latin-American music, so by way of example, we listened to his recording of the Mexican Hat Dance from his LP 'Caribbean Carnival.'
This was followed by an excerpt from 'Friday Night is Music Night - The Nearness of You, featuring the trombone of Chris Smith with the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Stanley Black. In the final item in this sequence, Stanley accompanied Caterina Valente in Goodbye my Love.
Albert returned to talk about Richard Rodney Bennett, who had recently died. He played us Nicola's Theme (from 'Tender is the Night'). It so happens that John Wilson made one album with Richard Rodney Bennett, from which we heard Love. Then, perhaps inevitably, we were treated to an excerpt from the film 'Murder on the Orient Express', incorporating the famous waltz - which Bennett considered to be the best tune that he had ever written!
After listening to Robert Farnon conducting The Trolley Song from the film 'Meet Me at St. Louis' Tony reminded members of our final meeting on 13th October, when our guests will be The Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra.
Albert informed us that, sadly, Ralph Harvey (one of our members) had suffered a stroke, and expressed our wishes for his speedy recovery.
We played out with Robert Farnon's Melody Fair.
I should make the point that although this was the penultimate London meeting of the Robert Farnon Society, it does NOT have to mean the end of musical meetings of the little community that has developed over the years. Indeed, plans are in hand to continue with two London meetings a year under the auspices of a new group, affiliated to the 'Light Music Society' at a different, but equally suitable central London venue.
This report appeared in the August 2013 issue of ‘Journal Into Melody’.
Robert Farnon Society Spring Meeting 2012
By Brian Reynolds
May 13th was a lovely day - just right for our Spring Journey Into Melody and it was one to which I had been particularly looking forward - a really special day, with the promise of some live music from the London Salon Ensemble.
Some time before the music was due to start I spotted a piano on stage - and when I see a piano I can't resist playing it! So I serenaded the incoming multitude (whether they wanted it or not!) Fortunately, most had brought their earplugs just in case!
A gentleman called Howard Del Monte (son of composer and guitarist Sydney Del Monte) introduced himself to me, so this gave me an excuse (not that I needed it,) to play his father's often broadcastBows and Bells. Then David Ades and Albert Killman took the stage to present the first part of the programme.
We opened with Robert Farnon's Portrait of a Flirt. Nothing particularly surprising in that you may say, but this version featured David Farnon at the piano - an arrangement which was recently broadcast when the BBC aired some vintage editions of Friday Night is Music Night earlier in the year.
We then listened to the trombone of the late Don Lusher, accompanied by Bob's orchestra in the title tune of that delightful film Young at Heart. This was followed by Wouldn't it be lovely from 'My Fair Lady'. This featured the flugelhorn of Shake Keane. Bob was once again at the helm.
By way of a tribute to one of our members, Sylvia Rix who had recently passed away, David played us one of her favourite pieces Let's Dream of Tomorrow, written by our good friend John Fox and performed by the John Fox Orchestra.
We continued with the Frank Cordell Orchestra playing June is Busting out All Over in the style ofPlayful Pizzicato.
Next came a tribute to an RFS member, the late Uan Rasey (trumpet) with a performance featuring the MGM Symphony Orchestra, of the blues sequence from 'An American in Paris'. Bess, You is My Woman - (George Gershwin's bad grammar, not mine!)
A complete contrast next, as we listened to the Royal Ballet Symphonia playing The Little Dress, this being the first movement of The Breton Suite by Mansel Thomas, a musician whom many older readers will associate with the BBC Welsh Orchestra. This was followed by a Chappell library recording - Sports Flash by Charles Williams, played by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra.
We always sample some new releases at our meetings and our next item came from a new Guild CD 'Stereo into the Sixties'. We heard Johnny Douglas and the Living Strings play Pedro the Fishermanfrom the film 'The Lisbon Story'. This was followed by Tony Bennett singing Remind Me, accompanied by the Robert Farnon Orchestra.
Malcolm Lockyer was the composer of Stranger than Fiction (originally titled The Big Guitar) and we listened to the recently-departed Bert Weedon playing this very successful number, accompanied by Sidney Torch and his orchestra. This was followed by a track from a forthcoming Guild CD 'The Art of the Arranger Vol 2'. The piece selected was These Foolish Things featuring the Angela Morley Orchestra.
From the album 'A Portrait of Johnny Mathis', Erroll Garner's Misty almost brought Part One to a conclusion. But to whet our appetite for part two, we went to tea to the accompaniment of the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra and Dominique.
Returning, suitably refreshed, we were entertained by The Snake Charmer from Old Bagdad. No - it wasn't a special guest, it was the title of another track from the BBC Northern Dance Orchestra's new double CD 'Diamonds'. Next came a piece which I know very well from listening to military bands:Gee Whizz played by the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra under Sir Dan Godfrey with Matt King playing the xylophone solo.
This was followed by Once Upon a Time sung by Patricia Lambert with the BBC Midland Light Orchestra conducted by our old friend Harold Rich. This came from a recording of a radio series which Harold did with the orchestra entitled 'Barry Kent Sings'.
It was then time for my 'Radio Recollections' and I began with two pieces from Bernard Monshin and his Rio Tango Band. The first was an exciting paso doble by Jose Mendoza entitled Festa Valesta and that was followed by Wynford Reynolds's concert waltz Morning Glory. I then turned to Maurice Arnold and his Sextet (three violins, piano, bass, guitar and percussion) for a sparkling Latin number calledLavoona, featuring the nimble fingers of Maurice Arnold at the piano, He was also the composer. Taking the tempo down a little, a relaxing beguine by James Warr (Peter Haysom Craddy) entitledBlue Waters played by Raymond Agoult and his Players. Next we heard from violin virtuoso Ralph Elman and his Bohemian Players. As Ralph was Ron Goodwin's leader, it was appropriate that he played a Goodwin original - Messenger Boy. Finally I turned to Reg Pursglove and the Albany Strings for Fredric Bayco's Lady Beautiful.
The programme continued with Haydn Wood's Roses of Picardy which was performed by Frank Sinatra. However this was from a selection of outakes. So we heard Frank's attempts to get it right and, so it seemed, giving up at the end!
Next came Stateside Stroll otherwise known as East of Fifth in a Bruce Campbell arrangement played by the Robert Farnon Orchestra.
To conclude Part two we had a 'mystery tune' - one of a number of Percy Faith recordings which Alan Bunting would dearly like include on a future Guild CD, if only he could identify it. Sadly, nobody could!
After the raffle, we took our second break whilst the stage was set for our very special guests
Now, the moment to which I had personally been looking forward for a long time. Some eighteen months ago I was sitting in the Royal Festival Hall listening to the London Salon Ensemble, something which I had done countless times during the last twenty years, and I turned to Tony Clayden, who was sitting next to me and said "we really have got to invite this orchestra to a Farnon Society meeting!"
Tony agreed and said that he would invite them, and here they were!
The line-up of the orchestra was as follows:
Michael Gray (Solo Violin), Megan Pound and Penelope Gee (violins), Lars Payne (cello), Steve Rossell (double bass), Daryl Griffith (celeste, percussion and occasionally violin), Kevin Darvas (piano) and Neil Varley (accordion).
As I have written an article about the ensemble, which appears following this report, I will simply tell you what they played. It included a number of requests mostly from Tony Clayden and myself!
Their first section came from their standard repertoire and was as follows
Gypsy Blood (March) (J.G. Renner)
Souvenir d'amour (Oliphant Chuckerbutty)
Pirouette (Oliphant Chuckerbutty)
Romany Serenade (Max Morelle)
Phantom of Salome(Waltz) (Archibald Joyce)
The Sirens of Southend (Alfred Reynolds)
At our suggestion the ensemble then played a group of pieces that were regularly heard on the old Light Programme during the sixties.
Hampden Roar (March) (Fred Hartley)
Edelma (Pasillo) (Tereg Tucci)
Heidelberg Polka (Cyril Watters)
Mexican Fire Dance (Albert Marland)
The Westminster Waltz (Robert Farnon)
We were grateful to Ann Adams for lending us the orchestral parts for Edelma and to Lars Payne for spending many hours adapting it for the ensemble - who continued with some more items from their concert repertoire.
In the Park Cafe (Kruger-Hanschmann)
Sunshine Over Capri (Hermann Krome)
Easter Parade in Vienna (Robert Stoltz)
Remembrance(Tango-fantasy) (Helmut Ritter)
Da Capo (Georges Boulanger)
Next, three compositions by the ensemble's self-effacing celeste player, Daryl Griffith who is responsible for composing and conducting much of the music heard in television and film drama.
The New Year Belle
Sunday on the Southbank
The ensemble concluded with three contrasting items
Reconciliation (Percy Fletcher)
Keep Moving (Frederick Charrosin)
Salut d'amour (Edward Elgar)
The final item was specifically requested by Tony as it is a favourite of his fiance Lyn, who was with us in the audience.
We are most grateful to the London Salon Ensemble for agreeing to play for us - and for giving such a superb performance! It brought to an end an afternoon's entertainment that will be difficult to top!
Editor: Brian Reynolds is far too modest about his piano playing. His repertoire covered a wide range of well-known light music pieces, all in very attractive arrangements and performed without any sheet music. Members thoroughly enjoyed his unexpected – and impromptu – recital!
THE LONDON SALON ENSEMBLE
By Brian Reynolds
I was first introduced to the delights of the London Salon Ensemble some twenty years ago, although it had already been in existence for some years. It soon became apparent to me that this was a virtuoso ensemble of classically trained musicians and their regular concerts of light music in the foyers of the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall have given me pleasure on countless occasions in subsequent years.
The ensemble usually comprises eight (occasionally nine) musicians and its instrumentation is similar to the BBC's Palm Court Orchestra, with the solo violinist standing out in front, in true Palm Court style.
However, unlike the BBC's 'Grand Hotel' broadcasts which were steeped in nostalgia, the ensemble tackle a broad range of British and Continental light music - some of it familiar, some of it unfamiliar or forgotten.
Many of the personel have remained the same over the years, notably cellist Lars Payne who founded the group, pianist Kevin Darvas, and Daryll Griffith who plays celesta, harmonium, occasionally violin and any percussion effects that may be required. An unassuming man, his listeners are probably unaware that as a composer and conductor he is responsible for much of the incidental music in television drama, as well as on 'the silver screen'. Some of his delightful light music miniatures are featured by the ensemble.
For many years, the solo violin was played by the late Donald Weekes. Nowadays, Michael Gray assumes this role, usually supported by Megan Pound and Penelope Gee, who has also played at 'The Bonnington' when Ann Adams has provided our music. Typically, for a Salon or Palm Court orchestra, an accordion is included and this is expertly played by Neil Varley, who is also a BBC producer for Radio Three and was responsible for the special edition of 'Friday Night is Music Night' broadcast in 2011 on both Radios Two and Three, as part of 'Light Fantastic'.
In recent years, the ensemble has played many times at the Royal Festival Hall and often gives a concert on or near New Year's Day. Until a change of music policy a few years ago, they also played regularly at the National Theatre foyer. They have performed at many prestigious locations in London, including the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Barbican Centre, Lambeth Palace and 11 Downing Street. Members of the Royal Family have been entertained by the ensemble at private receptions at St.James's and Kensington Palaces. The ensemble also recorded the incidental music for an ITV production of 'Oliver Twist' - Alan Bleasedale's adaptation of the Dickens novel. The music was nominated for a BAFTA award.
They have twice broadcast live in Brian Kay's Radio Three show and have been the subject of Radio Four's 'Richard Baker Compares Notes' .
They have made a number of CDs which are available through their website. There are quite a number of tracks from these CDs on SPOTIFY www.spotify.com should you require a 'taster' before purchasing.
The available CDs are as follows:
ORIENT-EXPRESS (MeridianCDE 84466)
THE CLASSIC SALON
with Charlotte Page (Meridian CDE84416)
THE ART DECO CAFE (Meridian CDE84361)
THE PALM COURT (Meridian CDE84264)
LOVE'S DREAM (Meridian CDE 84307)
with Miranda Keys and Donald Maxwell
ALFRED REYNOLDS Music from the Theatre
with Miranda Keys/Donald Maxwell (Meridian CDE84308)
The London Salon Ensemble, with their superb performances, have for the last twenty five years, played a major part in keeping light music alive - at a time when others have been trying to bury it. Long may they continue to do so.
Meeting of the Robert Farnon Society – Sunday 8th May 2011
Reported by Brian Reynolds
The day was May 8th and time once again for all lovers of melodic music to enjoy what might be described as the antidote to pop music - quality light and popular music by Robert Farnon and his contemporaries. For us, our Spring meeting was a little late this year, as this was the first time that we were gathering in May and, as hoped, a warm sun shone on us as we entered what we still affectionately call 'The Bonnington'. Well, let's face it - 'DoubleTree by Hilton London West End Hotel' doesn't exactly roll off the tongue! Whoever thought that title up is probably sitting comfortably in his padded cell. Once again our meeting was in what David Ades called 'the corridor', but we have been assured that our usual room will be refurbished in time for the October meeting.
As usual, David gave the opening address before handing over to Albert Killman who introduced the fabulous John Wilson Orchestra (on video) in an excerpt from their stunning Christmas Day television show 'A Swinging Christmas'. The excerpt chosen was Andrew Cottee's arrangement of A Tribute to the Big Bands.
This was followed by the BBC Midland Radio Orchestra playing Douglas Gamley's Summer Festival Waltz. This featured their wonderful pianist Harold Rich, who we were very pleased to welcome to our meeting.
Then, as a tribute to the late Jane Russell, we enjoyed watching her on screen and hearing I've got Five Dollars from Gentlemen Marry Brunettes in which the voice of the male lead was dubbed by no less than Robert Farnon! Probably the nearest he got to being a screen lover!
It was then time for my 'Radio Recollections' spot and it occurred to me that as our special guest for the afternoon would be playing music from the BBC Midland RADIO orchestra, it would good to play a sequence from its predecessor the Midland LIGHT Orchestra. This orchestra had been one of my favourites in the sixties and was noted for its wide repertoire and the contrasting styles of its two conductors - Jack Coles and Gilbert Vinter.
I started with the orchestra's opening signature tune, Jack Coles' arrangement of Fred Hartley's Life is Nothing Without Music leading into their opening number (conducted by Gilbert Vinter) Alpine Ride by Malcolm Lockyer, whom many will remember for his work conducting the BBC Revue Orchestra and subsequently the Radio Orchestra. For the remainder of the sequence we turned to Jack Coles, conducting first, a favourite of David Ades - Coralita by James Warr (a pseudonym for MLO producer Peter Haysom Craddy). Funny how his compositions cropped up in so many MLO broadcasts! Under Jack Coles, the orchestra played a lot of rhythmic arrangements of popular songs and we heard one such arrangement in the shape of the old standard Peg o' My Heart. It's amazing that 'heart' is the chosen organ for so many song titles! You never hear You are my Spleen's delight or My Liver and I !!
I concluded my presentation with another James Warr composition, Safari Fiesta, an exciting number featuring the nimble fingers of virtuoso pianist Harold Rich, who also arranged the piece. He was rightly given a spontaneous ovation from the audience.
Next, we heard some jingles, written by Bob Farnon for the start of LBC radio. After this, Albert presented (on video) a montage of pictures representing fifty five years of the Society, to the accompaniment of 'The Way We Were'.
It was now time for our new releases, the first coming from a new Guild CD 'The Composer Conducts - Vol 2’. We listened to a recording of Philip Green conducting the Pinewood Studio Orchestra in his own march from the film 'League of Gentlemen'. This was followed by a Robert Farnon arrangement for his orchestra of One Night of Love by Victor Schertzinger. This was from the Guild CD 'Portrait of my Love'. We then listened to I'll See You in my Dreams from Ron Goodwin and his Orchestra, from a new Vocalion CD comprising Ron Goodwin's albums 'Gypsy' and 'Romance in Rhythm' We concluded the first part of our programme with the finale from Bob's Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra played by Raymond Cohen with the London Festival Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. This is from the new RFS CD celebrating the 55th anniversary of our Society. It also served as a tribute to Raymond Cohen, who died in February.
Prior to our breaking for tea, David read out apologies for absence from David Farnon, also from Malcolm Powell, Cab Smith and John Fox, who were unwell.
Part two opened with Best Endeavours by Alan Hawkshaw. This tune is best known as the theme from Channel Four News.
It was now time to meet our special guest for the afternoon, distinguished oboist Paul Arden-Taylor.
Paul studied at the Royal Academy of Music and left with four diplomas (the police never caught him!) He was appointed principal oboe with Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet Orchestra, joining the BBC Midland Radio Orchestra in 1979, ironically just before the death of its conductor, Norrie Paramor. For his first musical excerpt by the MRO, Paul played Geoff Love's arrangement of Begin the Beguine.
As many members are aware, Paul has amassed a huge collection of recordings of the MRO which he is making available to our Society as well as to the Light Music Society membership. One of the reasons that there is only a limited amount of broadcast music in the BBC's Sound Archives was the Musicians' Union's requirement that all pre-recorded music broadcasts should be erased after transmission, to avoid the possibility of a rebroadcast for which musicians had not been paid! Never mind posterity! The sound engineers in Birmingham duly abided by this rule and erased the recordings - but not before they had made copies! Very enterprising!
When, in 1973, the Midland Radio Orchestra was formed, it replaced the Midland Light Orchestra. The idea was to have a modern style orchestra which would make a speciality of contemporary music. The change involved boosting the string section and dispensing with the brass - which could always be added when required by engaging session players. As the MRO was officially disbanded in 1981, Paul only had a couple of years with them, broadcasting under that name. However, the musicians in the various disbanded orchestras of which the MRO was just one, were given five year contracts giving them regular work under a variety of identities. You might hear them as the John Fox orchestra, the Iain Sutherland orchestra, and many other identities, sometimes augmented with brass, when required.
An example of this was Paul's next item, which was from 'Music While You Work' - a quickstep medley of popular tunes played by 'Pianorama' a two-piano team comprising Harold Rich and Colin Campbell, accompanied by musicians from the former MRO.
This was followed by Little Miss Molly by Robert Farnon and then Paul played Misty for us, the orchestra being conducted by John Fox and featuring Paul, himself - not on oboe, but on recorder! The recently deceased Johnny Pearson was featured next in I wish I knew (from television's 'Film 87'). After this we heard an arrangement of I Feel Pretty conducted by Jack Peberdy with featured flautist Colin Crabb-Smith and Betty Smith, forsaking her saxophone to sing! Incidentally, Betty (wife of Jack Peberdy) died recently, having sadly been ill for twenty-five years!
Next we heard My Father by Judy Collins in an arrangement by Pete Moore and featuring Peggy Lee with the MRO. Bernard Herrman (long associated with the Northern Dance Orchestra) was the soloist in Saint-Saens' 'Dance Macabre' and this was followed by Neil Richardson conducting his arrangement of Summertime by George Gershwin. Then the MRO rhythm section was heard in The Entertainer(Scott Joplin). The vibraphone soloist was Alan Randall, who is perhaps better remembered as a George Formby impersonator.
Next, a very enjoyable arrangement of Teddy Bears Picnic, performed by Paul on some unusual early instruments. To conclude his presentation, Paul played us a Reg Tilsley arrangement of Night and Dayplayed by the BBC Midland Radio Orchestra, conducted by Iain Sutherland.
Paul Arden-Taylor's articulate and amiable presentation was well-received by all present, and we hope that he will visit us again. As this is a report not a review, I won't attempt to polish his ego, but it was apparent, that in common with most really talented people, that he hasn't even got one!
Suitably refreshed we returned to 'the corridor' for part three of our extravaganza and to a presentation by our good friend Vernon Anderson on Sir George Shearing, who had recently left us at the age of 91!
Naturally, we were treated to 'Lullaby of Birdland', surely Sir George's most famous recording, featuring the Quintet, followed by an arrangement of ‘Autumn Leaves' - again played by the quintet, but with the addition of Dennis Farnon and the orchestra.
Next, from the album 'A Vintage Year', we heard The Way you Look Tonight featuring Mel Torme. The Quintet were then joined by the Robert Farnon Orchestra for an unusual arrangement in waltztime of the classic 'Lady Be Good'. Vernon concluded with Robert Farnon's In a Calm played by Sir George on his album 'Favourite Things'.
Next we heard the galop from The Little French Suite by Alan Langford (better known as BBC producer Alan Owen) who had recently died. This was played by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Gavin Sutherland.
Some more video of the John Wilson Orchestra followed, this time with Seth Macfarlane singing A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (the beautiful arrangement by Robert Farnon for his 1962 LP with Frank Sinatra) after which we heard Roger Roger's Paris Pullman performed by the Paris Studio Orchestra conducted by Phillipe Pares. This served as a centenary tribute to Roger Roger.
After this, David and Albert shared some reminiscences of the early years of the Society and told us about the next meeting, in which we shall be welcoming the ever-youthful and delightful Rosemary Squires who will be singing for us. This was followed by the Robert Farnon Orchestra with En Routewhich was a gift to members back in 1957 – the first of eleven RFAS 78s, the last being in November 1968.
We try to observe as many anniversaries as possible during our programmes and also to play music associated with artists who have recently died, of which there have been all too many, of late. Both John Barry and Elizabeth Taylor have passed away in recent months so, in tribute to both of them we played John Barry's music for an Amercian TV special entitled 'Elizabeth Taylor in London.' This was performed by Johnny Spence and his Orchestra.
It was hoped to conclude with some more of the John Wilson Orchestra, on video. However, due to a technical hitch this was not possible. So David Ades wound up the show with Robert Farnon's Melody Fair and after thanking all who had taken part, not forgetting the indefatigable Tony Clayden whose electrical wizardry contributes so much to the success of our shows. We played out with a medley from Rosemary Squires with the Wally Stott orchestra, by way of a reminder to everyone to come back in October.