Dateline September 2012

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John Wilson’s latest CD for EMI is due to be released on 1 October. It features music from the film versions of five of their top shows, originally produced on Broadway. For more details please see page 54 of this issue. The John Wilson Orchestra will take the new Rodgers & Hammerstein album on tour in the autumn and will play the following dates in Britain: 

October 20 Birmingham Symphony Hall 
October 22 Leeds Town Hall 
October 23 Liverpool Royal Philharmonic Hall 
October 24 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall 
October 25 Gateshead The Sage 
October 26 Nottingham Royal Concert Hall 
October 27 Brighton Dome 
October 29 London Royal Festival Hall 
October 30 London Royal Festival Hall 
November 1 Cardiff St David’s Hall 
November 5 Manchester Bridgewater Hall

Our friends in the Light Music Society regularly hold a series of events over a weekend in late summer, including a concert where its members form an orchestra under conductor Gavin Sutherland, who also happens to be the LMS Chairman! This year they have moved the event from its usual Lancashire venue down to Cambridge, over the weekend 22-23 September. On the Saturday LMS members will be participating in an Orchestral Play-Day which commences at 9:30am and continues until 5:00pm. The orchestra will be led by Shelley van Loen. Members will then have a short break before Dinner at the Royal Cambridge Hotel. (These events are subject to advance booking). On Sunday there will be an afternoon Concert by the Cambridge Concert Orchestra at 3:00pm where everyone is invited to attend.

Our RFS member, Ron Hare, has written and prepared an excellent background piece on fellow RFS member Frank Comstock. It appears on Wikipedia : (or simply search Google for ‘Frank Comstock’. Forrest Patten’s interview with Frank that originally appeared in JIM is also available on the Robert Farnon Society website.

Around two years ago David Ades was asked to assist the Imperial War Museum in recreating the original music that Rosie Newman chose to accompany her film shows, especially during and immediately following the Second World War. Alan Bunting also assisted by digitally remastering the original discs that were rediscovered in recent years, and the results appeared towards the end of last year in the DVD "Rosie Newman’s Britain At War in Colour" issued by Strike Force Entertainment in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum. The Federation Of Commercial Audio Visual Libraries (FOCAL) staged its 2012 International Awards in London on 2 May, and the Rosie Newman DVD won the Award for ‘Best Use of Footage in a Home Entertainment Release’. The DVD contains some amazing colour sequences from an era normally only shown in black and white. The film can be viewed as originally presented by Rosie Newman with the music soundtrack. It can also be seen with the music plus a commentary taken from Rosie’s writings. As a bonus feature there is a short documentary explaining how the DVD was prepared, including the restoration of the music soundtrack.

Serge Elhaik contacts us from France to tell us that he is enjoying his retirement, and putting it to good use! He writes: "I have finished for Marianne Melodie a CD of Paul Mauriat with 5 rare instrumentals of the 50s and the early 60s, together with 19 songs backed by Paul for various singers. Some are very popular singers, others are more obscure, and that is a collection which will please, I hope, the keen followers of Paul." Serge also hopes that he can devote more time to adding to his impressive list of books: he is currently thinking about a new project about French popular music.

The Edinburgh Light Orchestra, under its conductor James Beyer, is currently enjoying its 35thAnniversary Year, and its Spring concert on Saturday 26 May was a great success. Their next concert is on Saturday 3 November – as usual at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh commencing at 7:30, when the soloist with the orchestra will be the soprano Elizabeth McKeon. Programme details were not available as we went to press, but these are probably on the orchestra’s website by now RFS members are also welcome to contact James Beyer direct at  or by telephone – 0131 334 3140.

RFS member – and distinguished light music composer - Paul Lewis is now well advanced with work on From Armchair Theatre to "Woof!" by Way of Benny Hill - Memoirs of a Media Composer, an autobiography for Kaleidoscope Publishing. This is an anecdotal account of Paul's life, from childhood as the son of a half-Russian violinist mother, one of a generation of professional musicians, through teenage years avoiding Music College by working for music publishers (including Paxtons in Dean Street, Soho), his time as Assistant Musical Adviser to ABC TV at Teddington Studios and his subsequent freelance composing career. The book will be profusely illustrated and will include a CD of extracts from some of Paul's earliest Armchair Theatre scores and the first TV production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 1967. More recently Paul enchanted children and their parents alike with his superb musical accompaniments for the ITV series Woof! which was so popular in the 1990s, and has been seen in many countries around the world. Each show (about the boy who could become a dog - and then a boy again!) had its own specially composed music score, played by musicians such as Tommy Reilly - something that would seem unimaginable for a children's drama series today. Publication of Paul's autobiography is scheduled for Spring 2013 to coincide with his 70th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his first TV credit. Other commitments permitting, Paul is hoping to renew friendships with fellow RFS members at our London meeting next May.

Joe DePaola contacted us from Texas to report that his local classical radio station WRR101 played two tracks from Robert Farnon’s Reference Recordings CD in June: A La Claire Fontaine and A Promise of Spring. It is a pity that these performances by Bob conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are not heard more often.

Our committee member Brian Reynolds tends to hide his light under a bushel! From time to time he had mentioned that he has composed the ‘odd piece of music’, and we knew that Frank Chacksfield had included one of Brian’s works Souvenir de Montmartre occasionally in his BBC radio programmes. Just recently Brian confided in us that he had been surprised (and no doubt delighted) to discover that Frank had included this piece on one of his Decca LPs in the late 1960s. A recent letter to the Editor reveals that Brian’s composing activities have been far more extensive than he has previously revealed! He writes: "You may be interested to know that the Invicta Concert Band from Kent has approached me with an offer to make a complete CD of my compositions! The idea came from the band musicians (some of whom are RFS members) and has been approved by both the conductor and the Band Chairman. It's early days yet, but I hope it will come to fruition in the next few months. As the band ask me to conduct something at most of their concerts, I shall probably conduct one or two pieces on the CD. I recall approaching the Life Guards band with this idea years ago but was told (quite rightly) that my name would mean nothing to anyone and my pieces would not be familiar. I put the same argument to the Invicta band, but they would not hear of it and told me – ‘People like good tunes, and you compose good tunes’. So, as they say, - watch this space! Incidentally, I have found four of my pieces on 'Spotify' including Elizabethan Tapestry which I was asked to compose for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1975. Also, to my astonishment, I found mySouvenir de Montmartre from the Frank Chacksfield Orchestra! I had no idea that he'd ever commercially recorded it, although he often broadcast it!" As soon as we learn more about the proposed CD of Brian’s music, we will certainly give full details in JIM.

James Beyer recently sent us a cutting from ‘Projections’ – a privately published magazine for film (and DVD) collectors. The short feature relates that the notorious criminal and serial murderer John Christie was a film buff. He particularly admired Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo, so he must surely have seen "Captain Horatio Hornblower, RN" in which they both starred. But Christie’s cinema-going days were numbered. Soon after he would have seen the film (and presumably enjoyed Robert Farnon’s stirring music) three of Christie’s victims were discovered in his former flat at 10 Rillington Place. He was hanged at Pentonville Prison on 15 July 1953.

RFS member/composer John McLain tells us that the renowned theatre organist Len Rawle, MBE, has recorded four of his marches, and John’s novelty piece The Wedding Train is now in Len’s performance repertoire. UK members may remember that Len appeared many years ago in the outstanding BBC documentary "Metroland" where he played the organ at his home in Chorleywood to an appreciative Sir John Betjeman.

In June BBC Four in the UK screened a short documentary series called "London on Film". The first programme was about the West End, and a short sequence showing Piccadilly Circus was taken from the 1950s colour travel film "This Is London", with Robert Farnon’s music clearly heard behind Rex Harrison’s commentary.

Paul Barnes (who presents one of the best popular music shows on BBC Radio in the East Anglia region) did his usual birthday tribute to Bob Farnon in his late-night Saturday programme on 21 July. Paul has recently interviewed John Wilson for Saga magazine. He told us at the end of July: "I interviewed JW (he was kind enough to say it was the best interview he’d ever done), and I sat in on a recording session for the new Rodgers/Hammerstein album at Abbey Road. I also interviewed Andrew Haveron, Matt Skelton and Mike Lovatt. Saga went to town with the photography and they tell me that words and pictures make for a great spread. I think it’s scheduled for the August edition, which means that it should appear any time about now. Of course, Saga is available on subscription only, but it has sales in excess of 600,000, and a readership of about three times that."

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