Dateline September 2004
■ Doris Day has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour that the USA can bestow upon its citizens. Doris is one of 12 people to receive the award, which was announced on 22 June. But her fear of flying prevented her from accepting the award personally from the President in Washington. She told the Associated Press: "I am deeply grateful to the President and to my country, but I won’t fly." Doris blames her fear of flying on too many overseas trips with Bob Hope entertaining U.S. troops. "Bob would fly even if a cyclone was coming," she recalled. "I saw him on his knees many a time. In fact we were all on our knees. We flew in snowstorms to get to the next show. When we hit the ground I said ‘never again’." The Medal of Freedom was established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their World War II service. It was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honour distinguished service in a range of fields, including the arts, sports, business and science. Doris is not a newcomer to awards: she won an Oscar nomination for "Pillow Talk" and made several gold records. She was named the No. 1 box office star four times. She has also been recognized for founding the Doris Day Animal Foundation, and all her fellow RFS members around the world will be delighted at this news.
■ RFS member John Bladon wonders if some fellow members might be interested in Frantisek Kmoch (1848-1912), whose Society can be found on a website: www.kmochsoc.co.uk John tells us that the Kmoch Society aims to promote music played by Central European military and civilian wind bands, with some overlap into light orchestral music from the same area. Marches, polkas and waltzes form the basis of this repertoire, with emphasis on pieces mainly written in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is tuneful music, just like the best British light music, but different in style and performance.
■ David Mardon has sent a recent programme for the Hale Light Orchestra’s concert on 6 July. Archibad Joyce’s The Brighton Hike opened the show, followed by Eric Coates’ Summer Days Suite. Other notable pieces included Butterflies in the Rain (Sherman Myers), English Folk Songs Suite(Ralph Vaughan Williams) and Frederic Curzon’s Robin Hood Suite. It is good to know that performances of light music are still taking place – if you can find them!
■ David Mardon has also sent in some useful information about Charles Williams and early Chappell 78s. Although he did write Girls In Grey in 1943, Chappells didn’t record it until 1944. There was quite a gap between the move from EMI at C192, and Levy’s Sound Studios taking over at C193. In fact C200 was the first one recorded by Levy’s. This helps to explain why so many of Charles Williams’ compositions were ‘moth-balled’ or ‘stockpiled’ between C193 and C205.
■ Mark Fox reports that Tony Bennett completed his upcoming album "The Art of Excellence 2" at Bennett Studios, Englewood, New Jersey at the beginning of June. Conducting honours for the 47-piece orchestra were shared by Johnny Mandel, Jorge Calandrelli and Lee Musiker. The CD is scheduled to be released in the USA in September, with UK release following on 8 November.
■ Matthew Curtis tells us that a second CD of his orchestral music should be released by Campion Records this autumn. Once again the Royal Ballet Sinfonia is conducted by Gavin Sutherland, and production has been in the capable hands of Philip Lane. There were five sessions in total: one in February at Pheonix Sound (the old CTS) in Wembley, and four more at the beginning of July at Whitfield Street studios in central London. For two of the sessions Matthew enjoyed the rare luxury of enlarged strings, which he says makes a big difference to the effect of the more symphonic works. The titles are: Ring In The New, Romanza, Little Dance Suite, Irish Lullaby, Graduation Day, Autumn Song, Sinfonietta and Bon Voyage! An extra 17 minutes of music was also recorded towards a possible third CD, so Matthew’s growing band of admirers have much to look forward to in the future. RFS members had the pleasure of meeting Matthew at the Bonnington Hotel in April.
■ Once again James Beyer and the Edinburgh Light Orchestra entertained an almost capacity audience at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh in their recent concert on Saturday 29 May. As usual, the varied programme mixed some well-known classics with lighter pieces, the latter including Up With The Curtain (Jack Strachey), Prunella (Leslie Bridgewater), film music from "Goodbye Mr Chips"(Richard addinsell, reconstructed by Philip Lane), The Laughing Violin (Kai Mortensen), The Toy Trumpet (Raymond Scott) and Leroy Anderson Favourites. Another selection which must have been great fun was "Looney Toons Overture" based on the music from the famous Warner Bros. cartoons. The ELO’s next concert will be on 6 November, and if you want further information just drop a line to: James Beyer, 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT. The Edinburgh Palm Court Orchestraholds its musical afternoons on Sundays, when it is directed by David Lyle. The next concert is on 26 September, commencing at 2.30pm.
■ London’s Royal Festival Hall is now undergoing a major refurbishment, involving the construction of an extension building alongside the Hungerford Terrace to provide space for future administrative needs, with shops and catering facilities at terrace level. The foyers and auditorium are due to close in June 2005, and the major renovation of the hall should finish at the end of 2006. The Royal Festival Hall will reopen in January 2007.