Dateline December 2005
■ The North American premiere of Robert Farnon’s Symphony No. 3 is scheduled to take place appropriately in Robert Farnon's homeland, Canada. William Eddins will conduct the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra on Sunday 20 November 2005. The concert at the Francis Winspear Centre for Music commences at 2.00pm. As we go to press we understand that the concert will be recorded and subsequently broadcast on CBC Radio in Canada. It should be available worldwide via the internet. Our Canadian representative says that the broadcast is unlikely to happen before December, and he will let us have further details when known. This information will appear in the ‘Latest News’ section of our website.
■ In his September Newsletter to friends of the Edinburgh Light Orchestra, James Beyer included a long and thoughtful appreciation of the premiere of Robert Farnon’s Symphony No. 3 in Edinburgh last May. James also reported on the Memorial Service in London on 24 July, when he spoke eloquently of the way in which Bob’s music was enjoyed by amateur musicians. As we have observed on previous occasions, the good people of Edinburgh are indeed fortunate to have such a dedicated champion of Light Music in their midst. Hopefully many of them will have attended the ELO’s recent concert on Saturday 12 November at the Queen’s Hall. For regular information on the orchestra’s concerts, you should contact James Beyer at 4 St John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
■ The Robert Farnon Memorial Concert was also well covered in the August /September issue of Crescendo & Jazz Music. Musician Duncan Lamont wrote about the time he had declined a Bob Farnon session, because he felt that a lack of recent experience meant that he might have let Bob down. He talked about "a kind of spirituality about Bob’s recording sessions and he never had to raise his voice. Bob was an extremely kind and thoughtful man but he was, I imagine, extremely complex and that’s where his music comes into its own. Otherwise, it would be just lovely, instead of wonderful". In the same issue Brian Gladwell reported at length about the service itself, and what each of the speakers had said. He concluded: "I never met Robert Farnon, nor had I occasion to speak to him on the phone, but after thus wonderfully uplifting service I felt I knew him".
■ Derek Boulton received a friendly message from Vincent Falcone soon after he learned of Bob’s passing. Vinnie wrote: "Thanks for sending me the picture and memorial booklets. I’m so sorry that I could not see him one more time before his passing. He meant a great deal to me."
■ The September issue of the BBC Music Magazine included an article by Brian Kay called "Let There be Light Music". Brian tied his article in with the BBC Four documentary "Music for Everybody", which he narrated, and covered the Light music scene of around 50 years ago, leading up to today’s revival of interest. He concluded: "…there is more Light Music available today on commercial recordings than there ever was during the supposed ‘golden age’, and this clearly indicates a thirst for it among the record-buying public. Younger listeners are tuning in; where older ones turned away and sought pastures new, they are returning and with the help of those adventurous record companies, and always, hopefully, the BBC, light music at its brightest and best will surely survive well into the 21stcentury".
■ The motto of the Order of Canada is "DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM" - they Desire a Better Country. Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson has announced That Diana Krall has been named Officer of the Order of Canada. She comes from Nanaimo, British Columbia, is one of Canada's most famous musicians. Back in 1997, Diana Krall performed at the special Ottawa concerts in honour of Robert Farnon’s 80th birthday year. Diana joins a growing list of Canada's jazz elite who have been given this country's highest cilvilian honour. The list includes Peter Appleyard (a member of the RFS), Tommy Banks, Guido Basso, Ed Bickert, Charlie Biddle, Jane Bunnett, Terry Clarke, Oliver Jones, Moe Koffman, Fraser MacPherson, Rob McConnell, Phil Nimmons, Oscar Peterson, Doug Riley and Rick Wilkins.
■ On the same evening that BBC Four was showing two memorable programmes about Light Music, at least two excellent concerts were offering the same fare to live audiences. Malcolm Frazer told us about the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Barry Wordsworth at the Fairfield Concert Hall, Croydon. The concert included Warsaw Concerto (Richard Addinsell), Barwick Geen (Arthur Wood), Westminster Waltz (Robert Farnon), Cornish Rhapsody (Hubert Bath), Devil’s Galop & Rhythm on Rails (Charles Williams), Coronation Scot (Vivian Ellis) plus no less than four works by Eric Coates plus pieces by Malcolm Arnold, Frederick Delius and Benjamin Britten.
■ More light music could be heard at St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster on Wednesday 24 August, where a large audience heard Dam Busters (Eric Coates), Belle of the Ball (Leroy Anderson), and aTribute to Robert Farnon (arr. Duthoit) alongside show tunes and ballet music. The conductor of the Merton Concert Band was Martin Bruce, but RFS member Brian Reynolds was persuaded to take the stand to conduct his own Tarantella.
■ There is a special website on the internet where relatives and friends are invited to include their own special messages is remembrance of loved ones who have departed. The site is called ‘Relatives Remembered’ and Robert Farnon is included. You can visit this site at www.relrem.com
■ RFS member David Barton is willing to assist any fellow members wanting information on the existence of sheet music and/or music scores of any genres of music. He has extensive contacts at most publishers, and is experienced in assisting people searching for particular works. You can write to David Barton at: 72 Courtfield Road, Quedgeley, Gloucester, GL2 4UG, ENGLAND; e-mail This helpful service has been mentioned in previous issues of our magazine. David has specially asked us to request that any members sending in handwritten enquiries about sheet music should write clearly. He has recently received several requests that have been almost illegible, requiring additional correspondence to ascertain exactly what is required. If you have a typewriter (or better still a computer) please use it … it makes things so much easier!
■ A number of members have written to express their sadness that other commitments prevented them from attending the Memorial Service to Robert Farnon on 24 July. Typical was a letter from Reg Arthur: "I was lucky to have known Robert Farnon over the years through my association with the BBC in London, where it was my privilege to serve the Radio Orchestra as librarian which splendidly interpreted Bob’s orchestrations on so many memorable occasions over the years. Unfortunately Bob’s visits to the BBC in London were restricted for contractual reasons due to his residence in Guernsey, so the ‘buzz word’ among musicians went around – Bob’s coming over! "
■ During his speech at the Memorial Service, Iain Sutherland said that he was busily trying to raise the necessary funds to cover the expense of making a commercial recording of Robert Farnon’s Symphony No. 3. After the service, Iain was approached by a member of our Society who generously pledged £2000 towards the recording costs. There is no news at present of a likely recording, but this illustrates the extent to which some music lovers are prepared to go to perpetuate the memory of Robert Farnon.
■ Tony Foster has advised us that the July 2005 edition of the Elgar Society newsletter includes an interview with Mike Dutton, in which he talks about his early days in the record business, and what prompted him to set up his own highly praised company Dutton Laboratories.
■ There are two Robert Farnon tracks on a new 2-CD release called "Café London" CAF800153 –Flirtation Walk and Yes We Have No Bananas. Other light orchestras among the 50 tracks include Ron Goodwin (Jet Journey & Skiffling Strings), Stanley Black (Falling in Love with Love & From Here to Eternity), Mantovani (Charmaine & Dancing with Tears in my Eyes), Cyril Stapleton (For Always, Carnavalito & Meet Mr Callaghan), Frank Chacksfield (Limelight & Ebb Tide), and George Melachrino(Cole Porter Fantasy). Vocalists include the ‘usual suspects’ – George Formby, Vera Lynn and Gracie Fields. But mainly it seems to be an instrumental collection, with the likes of Kenny Baker, Joe Loss, Winifred Atwell and Eddie Calvert.
■ The latest issue of The Light Music Society Newsletter (Autumn 2005) carries a forthright message from the Chairman, Ernest Tomlinson, making the case for pressure to be placed on the BBC to increase the amount of air time it allocates to Light Music on the radio. There is also the story of the man who composed the famous ITN signature tune Non Stop. The pseudonym ‘John Malcolm’hides the true identity of John Batt, a successful lawyer. Other features include listings of forthcoming concerts, and news of music played on radio and television. We know that some RFS members wonder if our two societies duplicate the same kind of material in their magazines, but this is rarely the case. Anyone who wants to be kept fully informed of all that is going on in the wide world of Light Music owes it to themselves to belong to both societies!
■ The anagram of "Vivian Ellis’s Coronation Scot" is: Violins in octaves; train's cool. It’s amazing what you find on the internet!
New Mantovani Biography
Mantovani - A Lifetime in Music by Colin MacKenzie has just been published by MelroseBooks (Book Sales), St Thomas Place, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4GG (tel +44 (0) 1353 646608) on the occasion of the centenary of Mantovani's birth on 15th November 1905.
Their e-mail address is and their website is
www.,melrosebooks.com. This is a 352 page deluxe hardback, telling the full
story of Mantovani's remarkable musical career plus much else besides. There
are about 80 photographs integrated into the text, many of which have not
been previously seen. The book can be ordered direct from Melrose at £18.99
or US $29.99. The UK postage rate is £2 per book, plus £1 for each additional
copy, Europe is £3 (or $6), USA £4 (or $8) per book, plus $2 for each
additional copy. The ISBN No. is 1 905226 19 5. The book should also be
available online and at UK retail outlets.
The Christmas releases from Mike Dutton’s Vocalion label offer some great ideas for presents (to oneself?). Full track-listing details were not available as we went to press, but the following list will give you a good idea of what’s on offer:
CDLK4300 Franck Pourcel Thinking of You / The Importance of your Love
CDLK4302 Ron Goodwin In Concert / Plays Burt Bacharach
CDLK4306 Pepe Jaramillo Moonlight in Mexico / Meets Manuel
CDLK4309 Ted Heath Salutes Tommy Dorsey & Benny Goodman
CDLK4310 Edmundo Ros Ros Remembers
CDLK4312 Ted Heath Decca Singles and Rarities – Volume 3
CDLK4316 Ronnie Aldrich Where The Sun Is / For Young Lovers
CDLK4317 Mantovani All American Showcase
CDLK4319 Kenneth McKellar The Tartan / Scottish Saturday Night
CDLK4320 Mantovani Evening with Mantovani / More Mantovani Magic
CDLK4322 Frank Chacksfield Film Festival (this includes Robert Farnon’s ‘Irena’ from "Shalako") / King of Kings
CDLK4323 Stanley Black Blockbusters from Broadway / Broadway Spectacular
CDEA6110 Geraldo Parlophone compilation
CDVS1945 Harry James Trumpet Time
Sheet Music of Robert Farnon’s compositions
The Secretary is receiving an increasing number of requests for sheet music of Light Music compositions by Robert Farnon and other composers. This is sometimes required for concert performances, or simply to play on the piano at home. Kindly note that the RFS does not supply sheet music.
Many publishers now contract out their music libraries to specialist companies, so it is often difficult to know who to approach. In the case of Robert Farnon, the following addresses may be helpful:
Caroline Underwood, Warner Chappell Music Group Ltd., The Warner Building, 28 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4EP – telephone 0207 938 0000; fax 0207 368 2777.
This is the Music Vault, Griffin House, 161 Hammersmith Road, London, W6 8BS – telephone 0208 222 9210 (ask for Vicky in Archives).
Concord Music Hire Library, 5 Bushley Close, Old Barn Lane, Kenley, Surrey, CR8 5AU – telephone 0208 660 4766; fax 0208 668 5273.
The Light Music Society Library, Lancaster Farm, Chipping Lane, Longridge, Preston, PR3 2NB – telephone 01772 783646; fax 01772 786026.
Naturally all these organisations will make a charge for hiring out music.FS member David Barton is willing to assist any fellow members wanting information on the existence of sheet music and/or music scores of any genres of music. He has extensive contacts at most publishers, and is experienced in assisting people searching for particular works. You can write to David Barton at: 72 Courtfield Road, Quedgeley, Gloucester, GL2 4UG, ENGLAND; e-mail If sending in a request in handwriting, please ensure that your requirements are written clearly.