Dateline December 2008
Some JIM readers might be interested in the recently published third edition of the 'Encyclopedia of British Film' (published by Methuen in 2008, 885 pages, paperback), available for £16.99 from amazon.co.uk [ISBN: 9780413776600]. This is not a book listing films like Halliwell's Film Guide, but covers people that contributed to their making, a kind of 'Who's Who' of the British film industry from its beginnings (before Mitchell and Kenyon) to Harry Potter and beyond. It features over 6,000 articles, varying in length (up to to 1,000 words for major figures) plus articles covering genres and themes in British film. Articles are researched from a wide range of sources and lists of film credits are kept to a minimum, for there would be little point in such a book if most of the material was readily available on the internet. There is an excellent introductory essay by Observer film critic Philip French, a Preface from Dame Judi Dench, suggestions for further reading, and a listing of British film award winners. The articles cover star actors and character players, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, screenwriters, studios and production companies, costume designers, and, of course film music, composers and musical directors. Before 1960 light music (in its broadest sense) was the basis of most British film scoring, just as it dominated the radio airwaves. Jazz and pop scores were rare, but became more common with the rise of composers like John Barry, though classic orchestral scores were still being written by the likes of Ron Goodwin and Angela Morley. There are articles on these and many other film composers, which relate exclusively to the subject's contribution to British film. Apart from Robert Farnon, light music legends such as Louis Levy, Philip Green, Stanley Black, Laurie Johnson, Charles Williams and George Melachrino all feature, as well as William Alwyn, Malcolm Arnold, Eric Coates, Ralph Vaughan Williams, John Addison, William Walton and Richard Addinsell, together with bandleaders [Ted Heath, Jack Hylton], singers [Dame Vera Lynn, Jill Day, Jeannie Carson, Frankie Vaughan] and songwriters [Noel Gay, Vivian Ellis, Noel Coward, Ivor Novello, Paddy Roberts, Harry Woods]. There are articles on classical, jazz, and popular music in films, the 'Denham Concerto', and other music related topics, such as 'cinema orchestras and organists', with suggestions for further reading where this is available. So, for example, if you are a fan of the 1953 classic "Genevieve", you can discover that Kay Kendall's trumpet solo was played on the soundtrack by the legendary Kenny Baker and that the band musician who hands Kay the trumpet is none other than that familiar lived-in face from numerous 'B' movies, Michael Balfour (though we are sure many JIM readers will know this anyway !)
With so many fascinating websites now available on the internet (among all the rubbish that is best ignored), it can be somewhat bewildering when a simple question on a search engine produces so many results. If you want to find other music sites where would you start? With the name of the composer or artist is one obvious example, but this can involve a lot of time-consuming cross-referencing. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one place you could visit to see a vast number of links to all kinds of composers, record companies, publishers, radio stations etc… Well, the good news is that such a place does exist … on our very own website! Just visit www.rfsoc.org.uk and click on ‘links to other music sites’ where you will discover "The most comprehensive Links page on the Web for beautiful/ light music/ pop orchestral music." The man responsible for compiling this valuable feature is RFS member Christopher Landor, and we are most grateful to him (and our webmaster Ruud) for all the hard work involved in keeping it up to date and reliable.
RFS member Gareth Bramley has recently told us about a new book which should appeal to many in our Society. Unfortunately its publication this autumn was due just too late for a review to appear in this issue, but we look forward to including a full report on the contents in the March magazine. The new book is called "John Barry – The Man With The Midas Touch" and it is being published to coincide with Barry’s 75th birthday. Gareth writes: "Whether or not you purchased ‘John Barry - A life in Music’, ten years ago, you can look forward to a book that has been thoroughly re-written and completely updated. We have spent a lot of time on the picture content and this too has been extensively updated and includes a good selection of rare photos, both colour and black and white. There are approximately 300 pages including two photo sections of 16 pages each of colour and b & w. In addition to this, a photo introduces each of the thirty chapters, and, of course, the discography has been updated to include everything that’s happened since 1998. It’s a book that does full justice to a glittering career. We want to emphasise that this project is basically a self-publication by people such as Geoff Leonard and myself in that we have commissioned a publisher to act on our behalf. All the work has been done by a team of dedicated Barry fans, much of it voluntarily." To order this new book contact: Gareth Bramley, 3 Newland Close, Toton, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 6EQ, England. The price for UK is £19.99 and cheques should be payable to ‘G. Bramley – Book A/C’. RFS members outside the UK should contact Gareth direct for more information re price and postage. Alternatively you can visit the website: www.johnbarry.org.uk/bab.php
Jan Eriksen is well-known to RFS members who regularly attend our London meetings. He has been responsible for keeping Light Music to the fore in Norwegian broadcasting for many years, and produced concerts featuring ‘greats’ such as George Shearing and – of course – Robert Farnon. In a recent message he told us about his meetings with Iain Sutherland, who will be the Society’s Guest of Honour at our meeting on 30 November. Jan writes:
"Iain Sutherland was a very popular guest conductor during the 27 years I was responsible for light music here in Norway. It is a rather sad story that the Broadcasting Orchestra no longer plays light music in our sense of the word. It’s either serious like Mozart, Beethoven etc, or pop music with sustained notes in the strings and a noisy percussion in the middle. In 1985 we put on a light music concert at an event called the Elverum Festival 120 km north of Oslo with the Norwegian Youth Symphony Orchestra, a group of gifted young people aged from 15 to 25 years old. Bob Farnon should have conducted, but due to health reasons was unable to appear. So I had to phone this Scotsman [Iain!]; he came and was a great success as usual. The programme included: 76 Trombones Wilson arr R. Farnon; Symphonic Suite from "My Fair Lady" arr R. Farnon; Journey into Melody; To a Wild Rose arr R. Farnon; Portarit of a Flirt; State Occasion; Aviator David Reilly with his father Tommy as soloist; Westminster Waltz again Tommy’s version for mouth organ and orchestra;Toledo J Moody with Tommy solo; and last Jumping Bean. Iain Sutherland conducted our Broadcasting Orchestra on several occasions, including its 40th Anniversary Concert in Oslo Town Hall live on television!"
News reached us during the summer of several broadcasters who went out of their way to honour Robert Farnon’s birthday in July. Paul Barnes on BBC Radio Norfolk, and Ted Nunn on Angel Radio are just two who have been complimented by RFS members who appreciated what they did. No doubt there are many more around the world.
On 20 September John Wilson was in Germany to conduct the WDR Rundfunkorchester in a concert of British Light Music in Cologne. The concert was broadcast a week later on WDR Radio.
Andrew Davis has written and produced a radio documentary about Woolworths record labels, and we understand that he has interviewed Johnny Gregory about his work for the Embassy label. "The Wonderful Sound of Woolies" is scheduled for 10.30pm on 16 December – BBC Radio-2. The presenter is Brian Matthew.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the music industry is out of touch with the realities of present-day technologies and their likely effect upon the availability of music in the future. The long-running saga over sound copyright in Europe is an example of over-protectionism at its worst, yet surely there is no point in passing draconian laws which many people will ignore and find ways of circumventing. If laws are respected as being sensible and fair they will be obeyed by the large majority. With music available worldwide via the internet, and many third world countries producing pirate CDs and DVDs in ever increasing numbers, stricter and unpopular rules in the ‘old world’ (for want of a better term) will simply drive more business away from honest manufacturers. Roger Mellor recently sent us a report which indicates that some sanity may eventually prevail. In the USA new fees set by the Copyright Royalty Board for playing music online by internet radio stations were so unrealistically high that it would have put them out of business. A public campaign has forced a Webcaster Settlement Act to be approved by the House of Representatives, and as we go to press it is confidently expected to be passed by the Senate. This will allow each internet broadcaster to make separate arrangements with SoundExchange, the body which collects royalties in the US, according to their size and ability to pay. This replaces a standard fee which was going to be more than doubled, with many internet broadcasters on the point of ceasing operations. Apparently there was some suspicion that the attempt to force a massive increase in fees was encouraged by traditional radio stations, who are likely to lose out as more and more people start turning to the internet for their radio entertainment.
In our June issue (JIM 176) we reported that Alan Wright had published his last edition of "Nelson’s Notes", dedicated to that fine musician Nelson Riddle. We are pleased to report that our good friend David O’Rourke has decided that the newsletter should not be allowed to die, and the first issue of a new volume of "Nelson’s Notes" reached us at the end of September. It is a quality publication, nicely printed on gloss paper with plenty of photographs. The President of the Nelson Riddle Appreciation Society is Mrs. Rosemary Acerra (Nelson’s daughter), and membership enquiries should be sent direct to her at: 186 Enclave Boulevard, Lakewood, New Jersey, 08701, USA. You can also join online at: www.NelsonRiddleMusic.com.
Although the compilers of various editions of our Robert Farnon Discography undertook considerable detailed research, previously unknown recordings still occasionally come to our attention. Gilles Gouset recently wrote from Canada to say that he had discovered the following 78s featuring the soprano Ada Alsop asccompanied by Robert Farnon and his Orchestra:
London R.10014: Pale Moon; At Dawning
London R.10015: A Brown Bird Singing; Morning
London R.10016: I Hear You Calling Me; Homing
Previously we had only been aware of:
Decca F 8988 Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella; O Holy Night
Presumably the three London 78s were also released in the UK, and if any readers can supply catalogue numbers will they please let us know. We hope to be able to play Ada Alsop singing A Brown Bird Singing at our London meeting next April, when Gilles and Marjorie Cullerne will be presenting a special tribute to Haydn Wood.
Rosemary Squires recently signed a contract to produce a CD with the Brussels Philharmonic, and she was in the Belgian capital 18th-24th November to make the recordings. She is the star guest on a ten-day tour of major UK venues with the Glenn Miller Orchestra beginning immediately after Christmas: 27th December – Royal Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool; 28th/29th December - Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow; 31st December - Barbican, London; 2nd January - Symphony Hall Birmingham; 3rd January - Conference Centre Harrogate; 4th January - Bridgewater Hall Manchester (2 shows). In additional Rosemary continues to charm audiences with her one-woman shows, and you can catch her at: 4th December - Life is Song - Village Theatre, Carthorps; 5th December - Gigs,Giggles and Gossip, Bowhill House Theatre, Selkirk; 6th December - Gigs, Giggles and Gossip, Wynd Theatre, Melrose; 7th December - Westovian Theatre, South Shields; 19th December - Life is a Song, Burleigh Academy, Newport. Rosemary was honoured in 2004 with the MBE for services to music and charity, and she is now in her sixth decade as a performer. We are proud that she is a member of the Robert Farnon Society, and wish her continued success as a top attraction for many years to come.
A recent brochure from Reader’s Digest includes details of a new 3-CD collection called "British Light Music Favourites". The accompanying publicity blurb mentions just two orchestras - Mantovani and Robert Farnon! Just a few tune titles are given, but we would be interested to know a little more about this collection if any readers have purchased it. The reference number is 0349623, and the price is £29.99 which makes it considerably more expensive than similar amounts of music currently available from labels such as Vocalion and Guild.
We are getting a steady stream of recommendations for radio stations (mostly local or internet) which offer ‘our kind of music’. Rod Rizzo (USA) has told us about Rich Conarty who presents "The Big Broadcast" on Sundays 8:00pm-midnight on WFUV (90.7 FM) – a programme dedicated to music from the 20s onwards he has been hosting for 35 years.
Many of you with internet access have probably already discovered the "Whirligig" site, which covers vintage UK radio and television broadcasts – www.whirligig-tv.co.uk. Brian Reynolds has recently been contributing information on various programmes to the site. As he told us: "Whirligig covers many interesting facets of early TV and radio, but its details of music programmes is sparse. I’m trying to redress the balance!"
RFS Committee member Tony Foster entertained Cheltenham Big Band Society with a varied programme of music on 29 August, in which he included no less than five Robert Farnon recordings –Jumping Bean, Theme from ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower’, Portrait Of A Flirt, Wave and Canadian Caravan.
André Leon, the boss of UK LightRadio, tells us that response to the initial set of test broadcasts in August was very encouraging. More tests will be available during December, so do try to visitwww.uklightradio.co.uk Events are moving fast, and there could be some exciting news in the New Year. In the meantime please pay a visit to our own website every so often and check the ‘Latest News’ section on the RFS Information page.
Sound Copyright has been in the news on and off in recent months, and you may like to refresh your memories as to what is at stake by reading again the article on page 5 of JIM 176 (June 2008). As we go to press the stage has been reached where Members of the European Parliament are starting to consider the proposals. From what we have been able to discover as we go to press (mid-October), a report is scheduled for adoption in committee at a first or single reading on 19 January. This will then go forward to the full European Parliament at a Plenary Sitting on 1 April (note the date – April Fools Day).
As you read this report there may still be time to make your MEPs aware of your views. Professional Lobbyists for term extension are making the case to MEPs inside the European Parliament right now. But your voice is stronger than any lobbyist. We can't overstate it: the most important thing you can do to stop term extension is to let your MEPs know your concerns so they see and hear your side. In the meantime the Directive is also being discussed by representatives of Member States in the Council of Ministers. And criticism of the Commission's proposal is emerging all over Europe. The world leading Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property Law in Munich, has released a statement concluding that prolonging the term of protection "cannot be justified from any point of view." Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law in Amsterdam, and one of the Commission's own advisers, has accused Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso of intentionally misleading policy-makers with the proposal. Pekka Gronow, sound archivist, author of "An International History of the Recording Industry", and adjunct professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Helsinki, has written and concluded that performers benefit very little from the proposed extension ("in most cases the resulting sums will not even cover bank charges"). You are urged to add your own voice to the growing opposition against this ill-conceived set of proposals.
We are pleased to report that Ray Crick (previously in charge of the much-missed Living Era) label is now involved in an exciting new project. Details were still secret as we went to press, but we hope to have some positive news in our March issue.
Looking ahead to next April, plans are now being made for the Spring RFS Meeting which will include live music in honour of the 50th Anniversary of Haydn Wood’s passing. Members of his family will be with us at the Park Inn (formerly Bonnington Hotel), and this will be a special event that you won’t want to miss! Naturally full details will appear in our March magazine, together with a special feature on Haydn Wood – one of the great composers of the last century. Make a note of the date now: Sunday 5 April 2009.
A Society in honour of Eric Coates has been formed by the District Council in Hucknall,
Nottinghamshire, where he was born. Anyone wanting more information should contact the Secretary: Mr P.Butler, 47 Farleys Lane, Hucknall, Nottingham, NG15 6DT Tel 0115 9537393.