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November 2020

He’s marvelled at movies and musicals, and pored over pop songs… now TV music teacher Neil Brand is talking television in a three-part series.

Fans of Neil Brand will know the magic he brings to TV documentaries: sitting at the piano and deconstructing songs and themes. It’s like lifting a curtain on something you thought you knew well, only to discover a whole new world of meaning.

Brand now turns his attention to television in his fifth series which starts on BBC Four at 9pm on Friday 4th December.

November 2020

A fifth 'Lockdown' video from
The Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra

Yearning (Just For You) by Joe Burke
Performance by the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra in lockdown.
In this video, Mabel and Fatty make guest appearances. It is the first of their videos with vocals.

The Aspidistra Webpage now also features a blog. This allows you to give feedback on any Aspidistra activity or related musical matters. If you feel inclined to tell them something in future, write it on the blog page, and they can all see it.

Please spread the word and sign up for thier Newsletter.

November 2020

Another 'Lockdown' video from
The Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra

Girls in Grey by Charles Williams arranged by Roy Bell
Performance by the Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra in lockdown.

Girls in Grey was originally written for the Women's Junior Air Corps during World War II and later became known as the BBC television Newsreel theme.

November 2020

From Anthony Wills:
To mark Remembrance Sunday (8/11/20), BBC4 is screening a repeat of
Dame Vera Lynn: We'll Meet Again at 8.10 pm followed by one of those compilation programmes they do so well, Dame Vera Lynn At The BBC (9.10 pm). Should be good.

Both programmes should be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days. Follow the links above.

November 2020

Peter Hope’s 90th birthday.

Peter Hope, noted Light Music composer and President of the Light Music Society, celebrated his 90th birthday on November 2nd 2020. A friend and former colleague of the late Ernest Tomlinson, Peter's career began in the early 50's as a copyist and arranger.

He soon branched out into composing and wrote a great deal of library music, principally for the publisher Mozart Edition and frequently under his pseudonym of William Gardner. Arguably, his most well-known opus is The Ring Of Kerry Suite, which deservedly won him an Ivor Novello award.

To mark this auspicious occasion, a two-CD set of many of his pieces has been issued, and is reviewed here.

Radio Six International devoted an hour-long programme to the life and work of Peter Hope and we are pleased to reproduce it, with due ackowledgement below:

November 2020

André Rieu has a new CD + DVD
Reported by Peter Burt

ANDRÉ RIEU has a new CD + DVD, 'JOLLY HOLIDAY' on Decca 5488182. The CD is live and is too much a singalong for my liking. The video is an interesting look behind the scenes including the stage building for his Christmas concert. As with so many things in this strange year it is unlikely there will be his usual best-selling studio produced album.

October 2020

Classic Musicals on the BBC

Information from Anthony Wills:

Over the next few weeks, the BBC are showing classic musicals each week on BBC2 and BBC4 TV.

A Star Is Born (Judy Garland, James Mason) (1954)
Thursday 29th October, 8 pm BBC4
Music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ira Gershwin

The Band Wagon (Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse) (1953)
Saturday 31st October, 2.30 pm BBC2, repeated Thursday 5th November, 8 pm BBC4
Music by Arthur Schwartz, lyrics by Howard Dietz

On The Town (Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra) (1949)
Saturday 7th November, 2.40 pm on BBC 2, repeated Thursday 12th November, 8 pm BBC4
Music by Leonard Bernstein and Roger Edens, lyrics by Adolph Green and Betty Comden

Easter Parade (Judy Garland, Fred Astaire) (1948)
Saturday 14th November, 3.15 pm on BBC 2, repeated Thursday 19th November 8 pm BBC4
Music by Irving Berlin

Warning: The above films might only stay on iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.


More can be found on BBC iPlayer: -

A number of classic movie musicals are still available on BBC iPlayer to perk up viewers as venues remain shut and large-scale live performances remain impossible.

The films come predominantly from the Golden Age of Hollywood

Top Hat (1935)
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are the go-to for musical movies and Top Hat, featuring music and lyrics by Irving Berlin, may be one of their finest.

Carefree (1938)
The perfect pairing of Astaire and Rogers continues with this comedy, which also features the work of Berlin. The film controversially (at the time) featured a "long on-screen kiss", which shocked audiences in their droves.

The Gay Divorcee (1934)
Based on Dwight Taylor's 1932 musical of the same name (but controversially leaving out a lot of Cole Porter's original tunes) this was another of the ten movies Astaire and Rogers did together.

The Sky's the Limit (1943)
Joan Leslie and Astaire star in the 1943 film which has music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

October 2020

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - A new piece of British Light Music

On 30 September, in their first Spotlight Series concert, musicians from the RPO brass and percussion sections performed Jim Parker's 'A Londoner in New York' to a socially distanced audience at Cadogan Hall.

Experience the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple through this live recording in association with ILC Music Degrees (West Suffolk College) and enjoy an extract from a conversation with Jim Parker and trombonist Matthew Knight as the introduction. You can listen to the full interview with the composer here.

Find out more about the Spotlight Series of concerts here.

September 2020

BBC Instrumental Sessions

As part of the BBC Instrumental Sessions, the bassoons of the BBC orchestras perform Eric Coates’s Calling All Workers, arranged by Steve Magee.

More information about these sessions can be found HERE

August 2020

Did you hear Brian Reynolds on Serenade Radio?


Remember 'Music While You Work' on the BBC? The programme began 80 years ago this year.

Announced in the Radio Times as a “half hour’s music meant specially for factory workers to listen to as they work”, it soon proved a favourite with all listeners, as its familiar signature tune by Eric Coates rang out.

On August Bank Holiday Monday, Serenade's Brian Savin traced the programme's fascinating history along with Brian Reynolds.

You can listen to the programme again via our Streaming Audio page HERE

August 2020

'Lockdown' videos from The Aspidistra Drawing Room Orchestra

'Heather on the Pampas' by Sydney del Monte, arranged by Anastasia Arnold

La Morenita by Mátyás Seiber arranged by Roy Bell

The Donkey Serenade by Rudolf Friml arranged by Adam Bakker

August 2020

Light music featured as background music for TV shows

You might like to know that light music is often used as background music in the BBC TV programme 'Antiques Road Trip'.

A recent episode in the series was particularly productive with the following items spread over two programmes:

On a Spring Note
Coronation Scot
Runaway Rocking Horse
Swedish Rhapsody, Tick Tock Tango and Fun Fair (these three items were played by Ray Martin and his Orchestra, the latter two being adjacent items on a CD.

Not all of the programmes feature as many items of light music as the example above but there is quite often something to delight us. Also 'Car SOS' uses light music in some episodes.

If you feel so inclined you might still be able to view these programmes on 'catch-up' TV.

Peter Luck

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Read the report on our Autumn meeting
held in October 2019

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New CD reviews added:



Valery Gergiev / Jonas Kaufmann
Wiener Philharmoniker


The Kanneh-Masons
Michael Morpurgo / Olivia Colman

The Choir of Keble College, Oxford / Matthew Martin

THROUGH THE CRYSTAL A 90th Birthday Celebration

Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Neeme Järvi

The London Light Music Meetings Group was formed in 2014 to continue to hold the meetings which were formerly organised by the Robert Farnon Society.

Each of these takes the form of a Sunday afternoon event during which recorded musical items are presented and discussed; they are held in May and October of each year.

The range of music genres is broadly as before embracing Light Orchestral, Film, TV and Theatre - related, Big Band and similar material.

The previous successful format is retained with a central feature/guest speaker and includes live performances from time to time.

We have now expanded this website to include news items, details of other musical events, CD and book reviews, and obituaries.

We welcome contributions in respect of any of the above, also comments and articles.

Please contact our webmaster
or Tony Clayden
- telephone 020-8449 5559.