Dateline September 2008
James Beyer and The Edinburgh Light Orchestra treated the good citizens of Scotland’s capital city to another fine concert in the Queen’s Hall on Saturday 24 May. James tells us that they had an almost capacity audience of 744 – around 30 more than their normal summer average, and he was particularly pleased to note quite a number of younger people in the audience. As usual the programme commenced with Robert Farnon’s Journey Into Melody and among other treats were Philip Lane’s arrangement of Over the Rainbow, In Sherwood from Frederic Curzon’s ‘Robin Hood’ Suite, Clive Richardson’s Shadow Waltz (composed under his pseudonym ‘Paul Dubois), and an exciting finale provided by Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ melodies from ‘Oklahoma’. As the music critic in the Edinburgh Evening News reported: "under the experienced baton of James Beyer …the orchestra were tempted back to perform the Can Can twice. Clearly the audience couldn’t get enough".
London-based members interested in forgotten Gaiety Musicals may like to know that Ken Reeves is presenting two talks (with audience participation in songs) at Westminster Reference Library. The first is on 23 September, with a second spotlighting "Our Miss Gibbs" on 21 October. Seat reservations can be made on 0207 641 5250, or contact Ken Reeves direct at 232 Rainham Road North, Dagenham, Essex, RM10 7EA.
The centenary of Sidney Torch (1908-1990) was celebrated in "Friday Night Is Music Night" on 6 June. The enthusiastic audience enjoyed many of his arrangements, plus some examples of his earlier distinguished career as a theatre organist. Sadly only two Torch compositions were featured –On A Spring Note and All Strings And Fancy Free - but it was a memorable occasion with Robin Stapleton conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra in superb form. RFS member David Daniels reminds us that events such as this are becoming all too rare on the BBC. It is essential that we let the ‘powers that be’ know how much we value them, and want many more. As David says: ‘if we don’t support FNIMN, who can?’
On Tuesday 24 June BBC Radio-3’s daily "In Tune" programme was a live broadcast from the Maida Vale studios featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra. For part of the programme the orchestra regrouped to form ‘The BBC Light Orchestra’ conducted by John Wilson. John was also interviewed by presenter Petroc Trelawny, which gave him the opportunity to talk about his work with Light Music and the reconstruction of film scores. The ‘light’ section of the programme included Lonely Town(arranged by Angela Morley); Knightsbridge (Eric Coates); Melancholy Baby (arr. Richard Rodney Bennett); Westminster Waltz (Robert Farnon); and Nell Gwyn Overture (Edward German). If you think that John’s richly deserved international reputation now restricts his activities to big prestigious events you couldn’t be more wrong. Your Editor had the great pleasure of attending a concert in Martock, Somerset, church on 12 July, when John was conducting a group of twelve extremely talented young string players known as Sinfonia Westminster, in a programme including lighter works by Mozart, Delius, Elgar, Grieg, Percy Fletcher, Vaughan Williams, Tchaikovsky and Mascagni – all in aid of the church’s bells appeal.
JESSE KNIGHT SPREADS THE WORD ABOUT LIGHT MUSIC
On 29 June Jesse Knight, one of our keen US members, gave a presentation on light music in Portland, Oregon, at the Atlas Society's 19th Annual Summer Seminar. The Atlas Society is an international group of intellectuals who meet every summer to discuss a wide range of topics — everything from current events to economics to politics to philosophy to literature to, of course, music. Ages range from students upwards. There were around 300 – 400 people attending the conference, and Jesse anticipated an audience in the region of 50 for his piece. Not a particularly large number, but as he told us "it’s a start!"
Jesse’s presentation was meant to be an introduction to light music for those not familiar with the genre and consisted of a lecture along with numerous musical examples. Among the familiar pieces he included were Robert Farnon’s "Jumping Bean"; "Serenade for Youth" and "Montmartre March" by Haydn Wood; "Golden Tango" by Victor Silvester (played by the Palm Court Light Orchestra); "Dusk" by Cecil Armstrong Gibbs; "Woodland Revel" by George Melachrino; "Serene Place" by Bill Worland; "Busy Streets" by Roger Roger; "Skyline Concerto" by Charles Kalman; "Gentle Rains" by Adam Langston; and finally "Festa Day" by Matthew Curtis.
The idea behind the presentation was to introduce a group of intellectually curious people to light music, a genre with which they may not be familiar. Hopefully it would encourage them to explore the field of light music further. He discussed such issues as the importance of melody in light music; the music’s immediate accessibility; the absence of angst; and other issues. He traced a bit of the history of light music, discussing its demise, and now its recent renaissance. In addition, he provided a list of resources for those interested in delving into light music more, the Robert Farnon Society.
When asked for some personal information, Jesse replied:
"I have listened to classical music since a youngster. I have for some time been interested in what might be called the pops repertoire—composers such as Ferde Grofe and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. A decade or so ago I happened to attend a Pops Concert conducted by Portland’s Norman Leyden. Among the items on the program was Robert Farnon’s "Jumping Bean". I was completely delighted by the music, and I said, "Who is this Robert Farnon?" I began to look around on the internet and elsewhere. It didn’t take long to uncover the Farnon Society and the broader range of light music. Since then, I’ve written an article on light music and done some minor reviewing."
ADAM SAUNDERS : A YOUNG COMPOSER WITH A BRIGHT FUTURE
RFS member Adam Saunders is already well-known to us through his compositions such as Comedy Overture (1993) and The Magic Kingdom (2003). Adam studied at the Royal Academy of Music and London University, winning several prizes for composition. Since leaving he has established a career composing music for the concert hall and for worldwide television, film and other media.
In addition to a period as composer-in-association with the East of England Orchestra, Adam has had his works performed and recorded by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Royal Ballet Sinfonia, Academy of Ancient Music, London Mozart Players, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Odense Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Renaissance and the Brighton Festival Chorus amongst others.
As well as his work as a composer, arranger and conductor, Adam also regularly performs as a jazz pianist with his own group, and as a pianist has performed at venues including Wembley Arena and the Royal Albert Hall. He is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music.
Since 1997, Adam Saunders and Mark Cousins have enjoyed a fruitful creative partnership writing music for worldwide television, film, radio and other media. They are regular contributing composers for some of the world's leading production music companies including Universal, Focus and Amphonic, working on tremendously varied projects - ranging from cutting-edge electronica to sumptuous orchestral scores and big band jazz. Whether they're working in front of a 90-piece orchestra, or in a completely electronic production environment, Adam and Mark produce music with consistently high production values and musicality.
To hear examples of Adam and Mark’s work, visit their website at: www.cousins-saunders.co.uk