Dateline March 2007
Thanks to the efforts of David O’Rourke, Robert Farnon’s How Beautiful Is Night was performed in a concert at New York’s Lincoln Center last November. James Beyer is planning to include the vocal version in his Edinburgh Light Orchestra’s concert on 26 May at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (for more details telephone 0131 334 3140).
The following text is taken from Warren Vache’s website, and dates from around April 2005: This has been a terrible month for trumpet players. We have lost such lights as Tutti Cammerata, Robert Farnon, Benny Bailey, Kenny Schermerhorn, and Danny Moore. Alison Kerr of the Glasgow Herald asked me to say a few words for an obit on Robert Farnon she will be doing, and the process of writing re-awoke all the awe and inspiration Mr. Farnon’s writing never failed to instil in me. He had accepted a commission to write one arrangement for me and the Scottish Ensemble for our recording this July (2005), and was not able to complete it. I thought I would include my thoughts here. Robert Farnon was simply one of the most musical, creative, and intelligent arrangers and composers to have graced the world. He was and will remain the apex of that genre, and an inspiration to anyone with the drive to write for orchestral settings. The more you look into his work, the more there is to see and hear. And with all that skill and intelligence, there is always a feeling and a beauty that is absolutely gut wrenching. He was a tone painter like no other. I remember doing a concert with The New York Pops, and sitting in the soloists section in the middle of the orchestra. Now, there are few sounds in the world as exciting for me as a full orchestra, and the sound of a live orchestra is an experience that cannot be reproduced by any recording equipment. Well, they began to play a Farnon setting of Harold Arlen’s ‘What’s Good About Goodbye?" It began with an oboe solo over a lush and surprising string background, full of wonderful, and unusual voiceings, and a very creative harmonic treatment. The oboe was a lone voice in a wonderland, and I wanted to be in that wonderland. As if that weren’t enough, at the bridge, the colour changed to four horns! It was such a dramatic and startling change, as if the sound of the horns rose from under all those strings to take the beauty to a higher level. Imagine the light changing on some far off mountain. I was a puddle of tears it was so moving. It is a gift indeed to live in this veil of tears and be able to see through all the pain and dirt to the beauty Farnon envisioned. The world will not see his like again, and for me, a great source of inspiration and a window to the beautiful has been closed. Hearing a Farnon setting was like love without the heartbreak, and it doesn’t ever get better than that. We are grateful to Malcolm Frazer for discovering this for ‘Journal Into Melody’. Paul Clatworthy reviews Warren’s CD in ‘Keeping Track’.
David Mardon has written to point out that Haydn Wood’s Soliloquy played by the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra conducted by Robert Farnon was not in the Chappell Recorded Music Library, but only on a Decca 78 (F 9265) and 10" LP (LM 4508). David also explains that the Radio Four Theme was initially recorded by the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestra under Fritz Speigel (part composer), and there was an agreement with the Musicians’ Union that it was to be re-recorded every five years. As the ‘Northern’ is now the BBC Philharmonic, the last version was under Rumon Gamba.
Tony Foster tells us that the Daily Mail (Saturday 2 December) gave away a free DVD of the film "The Slipper and the Rose". As JIM readers will know, Angela Morley was the Musical Director on this film, and she worked wonders with her arrangements of the Sherman Brothers’ songs, as well as adding her own incidental music.
One of our USA members, Jesse Knight, has written an interesting article on Light Music for a website. If you have access to the internet, you are strongly urged to visit the Aristos site atwww.aristos.org and click on to Jesse’s article which is appropriately called "The Joys of Light Music".
Peter Burt asks us to correct a mistake which crept into his "Back Tracks" article in our last issue. He says: "it must have been the Little People and not gremlins that caused me to write that Vincent Youmans was Dublin born. It was, of course, New York. So not Vincent O’Youmans after all!"
The Secretary recently provided the National Theatre in London with a recording of Robert Farnon’sOpenings and Endings – the music which introduced "Panorama" when it first appeared on BBC Television back in the 1950s. It will be used in the play "The Reporter" by Nicholas Wright which went into rehearsal in January. The National Theatre had been unable to find a recording, and contacted us through our website. Readers may remember that this music was included on the Conifer 2-CD compilation of Robert Farnon’s compositions released in 1996 and long deleted.
On Tuesday 17 October the Coda Club honoured Angela Morley with their Burt Rhodes Award for lifetime achievement in music. Unfortunately Angela was not well enough to travel from her home in the USA to London to receive the award personally, so it was accepted on her behalf by John Wilson. As readers will know, John has recorded a number of Angela’s compositions and arrangements for Vocalion in recent years, and he said that he felt honoured to receive the award on her behalf.