Dateline March 2012

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News of the latest repackaged reissue of Tony Bennett Christmas Music did not reach us until the end of November, which was far too late to catch our December issue. This was a pity, because it is an attractive collection, which features some fine tracks that Tony recorded with Robert Farnon.

The following numbers come from that great "Snowfall" LP, first released in 1968: My Favourite Things; The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire); I Love The Winter Weather/I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm; Winter Wonderland; White Christmas

There are also some arrangements that Robert Farnon did for Tony’s Hallmark CD that appeared in 2002. This time the London Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Don Jackson, and a choir was added to Bob’s scores – not entirely to his liking: Deck The Halls; O Little Town of Bethlehem; O Come All Ye Faithful; Silent Night.

Other tracks feature Tony singing arrangements by Bill Holman, Torrie Zito, Jorge Calandrelli, Lee Musiker and a previously unreleased What Child Is This (Greensleeves) arranged by Marion Evans.

The catalogue number is RPM Recordings / Columbia / Legacy 88697 955762. You might like to order a copy now to save for next Christmas, but maybe yet another Tony Bennett collection of reissues may come along later this year?!

It seems that Tony Bennett is never out of the news, and last September he received a lot of publicity for the release of "Tony Bennett: The Complete Collection", issued to commemorate his 85th birthday. It comprises 73 CDs and could cost you around £260 in the UK if you shop wisely! Undoubtedly good value at £3.56 a disc, provided that it doesn’t duplicate too much of your existing collection. The bonus, of course, is the inclusion of everything he has done with Robert Farnon, some of it previously unobtainable on CD. 


BBC Radio 2 is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the famous BBC Concert Orchestra with an 11-part series of "Friday Night Is Music Night". From Friday 20 January until late in March, Ken Bruce is hosting a well-deserved tribute to one of the most famous radio orchestras in the world, broadcast on Radio 2 at 8:00pm.. Hailed as "a worthy instrument" presenting a "brilliant new era of entertainment music", they made their first broadcast on 11 September 1952. But their story began 20 years before, when they were known as the BBC Theatre Orchestra (conductor Leslie Woodgate), whose main role was to provide incidental music for radio plays, but who also gave light music and opera concerts. In 1949 for a few years they were renamed the BBC Opera Orchestra, conducted by Stanford Robinson. The series of eleven programmes features a different archive show each week, with performances from light music giants Sidney Torch, Vilem Tausky, Robert Farnon, Eric Coates and others. There are also performances with famous singers and soloists who have appeared with the orchestra, and interviews with players and conductors. Today the BBC Concert Orchestra is widely praised for its regular broadcasts on radio (both Radio 2 and Radio 3), its appearances at prestigious events such as the BBC Promenade Concerts, and its continually growing number of superb compact discs. 

Once again Edinburgh’s music lovers will soon be treated to some of the finest light music, courtesy of RFS member James Beyer, conductor of the Edinburgh Light Orchestra. The next Concert will be on Saturday 26th May 2012 at the usual venue - The Queen's Hall, commencing at 7:30. The booking office opens on 26 March – Queen’s Hall booking hotline 0131 668 2019; bookings direct from Edinburgh Light Orchestra 0131 334 3140. Ticket prices range from £9.50 to only £6.00 – an absolute bargain these days! More on the orchestra’s website: www.edinburghlight Guest soloist will be the Baritone Bruce Graham who is an old friend of James. Bruce was born and educated in Edinburgh and played in many local amateur productions before beginning his professional career in 1978. He joined the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company with whom he played many of the Gilbert and Sullivan character roles. Since his spell with the D’Oyly Carte, Bruce has appeared in a number of shows in London’s West End, such as ‘Me and My Girl’ and ‘Cats’. Other aspects of Bruce’s work have ranged from film and television to Old Time Music Hall and pantomime; and he has appeared all over the world as a principal with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. 

Tony Bennett was interviewed by Aidin Vaziri for the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday 11 December 2011. We repeat below one of the questions, and Tony’s reply:

Q: Barring the present moment, do you have a favorite Tony Bennett era?

A: Wow, that is a tough question. I loved the time I lived in London in the '70s, as I got to work with the master Robert Farnon.

Our thanks to Forrest Patten for sending this to JIM.

Colin Berry did Light Music fans proud on his BBC Three Counties Radio shows over the Christmas period. He made good use of the Guild ‘Christmas Celebration’ CD. On Christmas Eve his listeners heard Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (Boston Pops), It Came Upon The Midnight Clear (Billy Vaughn), Christmas Alphabet (George Melachrino) and Nazareth (Mantovani). For his Christmas Day show Colin selected Christmas Sleigh Bells (Angela Morley) and Sleigh Ride (Boston Pops). 

Last Christmas we didn’t get another TV show from the John Wilson Orchestra like "Swingin’ Christmas" in 2010, but we did enjoy a repeat of the "Hooray for Hollywood" Prom and a semi-documentary about great Hollywood dancers that included some fascinating glimpses of John recording the music in the famous Studio 2 at Abbey Road. The subject of the 90-minute programme (first shown on BBC 2, then repeated a few days later on BBC Four immediately before John’s Prom) was the famous ballerina Darcey Bussell who stepped into the shoes of her Hollywood heroes to celebrate the enduring legacy of classic dance musicals. To quote from the BBC’s own publicity: "In the age of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Streetdance 3D’, Darcey, one of Britain's greatest living dancers and Hollywood musical superfan, discovers that the key to understanding where this dance-mad culture comes from lies in classic movie musicals. She takes famous dance routines from her favourite Hollywood musicals and reveals how they cast their spell, paying tribute to the legends of the art form and discovering the legacy they left. Darcey pays homage to Fred Astaire in an interpretation of Puttin' on the Ritz; plays Ginger Rogers in a rendition of Cheek to Cheek; pays tribute to the exuberant Good Morning from ‘Singin' in the Rain’; and stars in a new routine inspired by Girl Hunt Ballet from ‘The Band Wagon’. Darcey works with leading choreographer Kim Gavin and expert conductor John Wilson, who has painstakingly reconstructed the original scores, as she discovers how dance in the movies reached a pinnacle of perfection and reveals how the legacy of the golden age lives on."

Readers with internet access will know that there are many interesting sites out there at the click of a mouse. Nigel Burlinson has recently discovered that the 1945 film "I Live In Grosvenor Square" is available to watch at (Alternatively just visit YouTube and type in the title of the film). This was the film that featured Robert Farnon and the Canadian Band of the AEF, and it could be said to have firmly launched his working partnership with Anna Neagle and Herbert Wilcox. Only a few years later this produced "Spring In Park Lane", one of the most successful British movies of the last century.

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