Dateline September 2005
■ Earlier this year we received an e-mail from Mark Sobolev, who introduced himself as a nephew of Monia Liter. He has a fascinating story to tell about the family, especially the period in Shanghai and Russia during the early years of the last century – we hope that his reminiscences can form the basis for a future article about Monia. Mark now lives in Israel, where he is a cellist with the Ashod Chamber Orchestra. Sadly the political situation in the Soviet Union prevented him from ever meeting his famous uncle, although more recently he has performed in London.
■ That great Ray Conniff fan, Manfred Thönicke, published the final printed edition of ‘S Conniff in May. Increasing personal commitments had finally forced Manfred to accept that the work in producing the magazine was becoming too onerous, so Ray’s fans in future will have to rely upon information in several web sites on the internet dedicated to his music. His magazines (which he started in 1981) were always of a high standard, and we are sure that Manfred will continue his appreciation of Ray, using the latest technology now available. We wish him well in his future endeavours.
■ British members may like to know that there is a club devoted to the BBC Concert Orchestra. Since this is the only major BBC orchestra that still performs Light Music, it deserves the support of all of us. For membership details write to: BBC Concert Orchestra Club, PO Box 213, Baldock, SG7 6ZP.
■ Frank Comstock was 18 years only when he joined Benny Carter’s Band, and sat next to J.J. Johnson. Also in the line-up at that time were Gerald Wilson and Snooky Young. Just recently there has been renewed interest in the "Tangence" CD that JJ and Bob made together – resulting in the Grammy for the best orchestral arrangement of xxxx.
■ According to some recent research by RFS member Alan Keeling, two Robert Farnon LPs ("From the Highlands" and "From the Emerald Isle") were used during ITA trade test transmissions in 1960/61. Both these fine LPs are now available on one Vocalion CD – CDLK4100.
■ Alexander Schatte tells us the the correct spelling of the composer of Little Jumping Jack (on Guild GLCD5114) is Ralph Maria Siegel (1911-1971). He wrote this piece (original title Kleiner Hampelmann) in 1941 for the female singer Ilse Werner, and also wrote the lyrics for this popular tune.
■ Brian Henson reports that Nigel Ogden remember Bob Farnon in his BBC Radio-2 programme "The Organist Entertains" on 17 May. Nigel played Journey Into Melody (performed by John Giacchi),How Beautiful is Night (William Davies) and Jumping Bean (Jim Riggs).
■ The next concert by James Beyer and The Edinburgh Light Orchestra will be on 12 November. For more details contact James at 4 St. John’s Gardens, Edinburgh, EH12 6NT.
■ Allan Bula attended the concert on 10 July by The Waldron Light Orchrestra conducted by Herbie Flowers as previewed recently in JIM. The programme included Puffin’ Billy (Edward White)and Jumping Bean – as a tribute to Robert Farnon.
The Memorial Service for Robert Farnon was held on Sunday 24 July at St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, attended by many RFS members and celebrities who knew and worked with Bob during his long career. A full report will appear in our next issue. A recording of the proceedings will also be made available to RFS members.
As mentioned in the Editorial, British readers should keep an eye on the television schedules for BBC Four this autumn. Light Music will be featured in at least two programmes – one of them a broadcast of "Friday Night is Music Night" recorded at the Mermaid Theatre on 5 August. John Wilsonconducted the BBC Concert Orchestra in a superb selection of British Light Music – radio listeners to BBC Radio-2 will have heard the entire concert ‘live’, and TV viewers will probably be treated to the highlights in a one-hour show. Also coming up is a special feature about Light Music in the years following World War 2. Andy King-Dabbs is producing what promises to be a fascinating selection of reminiscences, including interviews with Ernest Tomlinson and Trevor Duncan. RFS Secretary David Ades has been helping out with some archive material, and it is possible that Robert Farnonwill be featured in a recording session with George Shearing at the CTS Studios. This comes from RFS Archives, and it is hoped that the necessary permission can be obtained for it to be screened. In our next issue we should be able to give you further information. Although BBC Four is currently only available on digital TV to around 55% of the UK population, the good news is that its programmes are often repeated, so you may be able to watch it more than once!
Be sure to scrutinise Radio 4's schedules for November and December. Producer Jolyon Jenkins is readying an hour long Mantovani programme, tentatively called "The Mantovani Sound" which will probably got out on a Saturday evening around 8 o'clock. These arrangements are, however, subject to change. More news as and when it is available.
Apologies to Miss Poulton!
In Jim Palm’s article "In The Beginning" (JIM 164, page 52) near the foot of column 2 his music teacher’s title is missing (no doubt ‘lost’ in the transfers between computers!). So ‘Poulton’ should read ‘Miss Poulton’. Jim also noticed that the Steel Foundry piece he mentioned was used recently in BBC-1’s "Picture of Britain" series.
Wilfred Askew has noticed a mistake in the date of birth given for Billy Vaughn in the notes for the Guild CD "Travellin’ Light". Billy was born on 12 April 1919, not 1931 as stated in error elsewhere. He died at the age of 72 on 26 September 1991.
A batch of CD releases this summer from Vocalion includes:
CDLK4271 Werner Muller On Broadway / Hawaiian Swing
CDLK4282 Maurice Larcange Paris for Lovers / Avec Moi a Paris
CDLK4299 Ronnie Aldrich All-Time Piano Hits / Melody and Percussion
CDLK4308 George Evans and his Symphony of Saxes Greatest for Dancing – Volumes 1 & 2
CDSA6813 Lance Ellington with John Wilson and his Orchestra Lessons in Love
More details of these, and other new releases from Vocalion, will appear in our next issue.
Our friends in other societies and publications have been generous in their praise of Robert Farnon’s great musical achievements. The Summer Newsletter of The Light Music Society paid a very nice tribute to Bob, and used the photograph from our March issue on their cover. Crescendoalso had a colour photo of Bob on the cover of their June/July issue – the one which was featured on the front page of last December’s JIM. The Cinema Organ Society also praised Bob, describing him as ‘often imitated though seldom equalled’.
RECENT BRITISH DOCUMENTARY FILMS NOW ON DVD
Ray Clark has sent us details of several new releases which will certainly interest members who enjoy vintage documentary films, and the mood music that usually accompanies them. Pride of place must go to a new collection from the British Film Institute called "On and Off The Rails"(BFIVD590). This first volume, on 2 CDs, runs for over 260 minutes, and includes an interesting selection of 14 British Transport Films, with classic titles such as Blue Pullman (music by Clifton Parker), Elizabethan Express, Snowdrift at Bleath Gill and John Betjeman Goes By Train. The dates range from 1951 to 1980, and five films are in colour. The official price is around £20 but you may find it cheaper on the internet.
For an interesting catalogue of vintage films of many types, you may like to contact Panamint Cinema, Abercorn Schoolhouse, Newton, West Lothian, EH52 6PZ, Scotland (telephone 01506 834936, www.panamint.co.uk). "Roundabout – Volume 1" (PDC2015) features a collection of short ‘Cinemagazines’ from 1962-1974 made by Associated British Pathe for the Central Office of Information. These colour shorts have not previously been seen in Britain, because they were made specifically for showing in Australia and South East Asia. The running time is a bit mean at 56 minutes, considering the £20 price tag, but these are very rare films.