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LONDON LIGHT MUSIC MEETINGS GROUP

SPRING GATHERING 8th May 2022

It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day in London, when our loyal band of followers arrived at the Lancaster Gate Hotel to wallow, once again in the wonderful world of light music, knowing sadly, that the majority of the public are unaware of its existence, let alone how thoroughly enjoyable it is.

As usual, Tony Clayden welcomed us to the meeting and presented the first section. In this Jubilee year it was appropriate that he began with the third movement from Eric Coates' 'Three Elizabeths Suite' – the march Youth of Britain. This was written to honour Princess Elizabeth in 1944, some eight years before she ascended to the throne as our Queen.

The next item was Haydn Wood's Mayday Overture played by the Slovak Radio Orchestra conducted by Ernest Tomlinson – although it was a few days after the actual May Day!

One of our 'regulars' is the distinguished harmonica player, Sigmund Groven, who travels all the way from Norway to attend our meetings! So Tony played one of his compositions – Siesta – in which he was accompanied by an orchestra in an arrangement by Robert Farnon. This piece appears on the latest of Sigmund's CDs.

Tony continued with Valse Moderne written by Robert Docker and dedicated to his daughter, Beverley – who, by an amazing coincidence, also happened to be in the audience, with her husband, Adam ! Readers may be interested to know that Beverley has agreed to take part in a special feature about her father, in our October get-together!

Tony concluded with Les Jeux (The Games) – subtitled 'Playing', written by George Melachrino and played by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, conducted by David Lloyd-Jones. A little-known work which forms part of a suite entitled Five Sketches From Life, it is written in a rather more 'serious' vein than some other Light Music pieces from this composer.

It was then my turn to come to the top table with selection of 'off-air' recordings – all performed over 60 years ago! I doubt if many people remembered the pieces – let alone the orchestras!

I started with one of Robert Docker's best-known compositions, Tabarinage (Buffoonery) from Marcel Gardner and his orchestra, in an arrangement by the conductor. This piece was played at Robert Docker’s funeral – but using the original published arrangement.

I continued with Highland Fiddler – a Montague Ewing composition, played by Hugh James and his orchestra.

We then turned to the music of pianist Maurice Arnold and his sextet for the delightful Edelma. by Terrig Tucci – who doesn't appear to be known for anything else!

This was followed by Anton and his orchestra (real name, Arthur Sweeting) and a march called Here's To Love by Charles Mougeot.

Next, a samba by Gilbert Vinter – Portuguese Party, given an authentic treatment by Fredric Cooper and his Tipica Orchestra. This was followed by a composition by Harry Dexter, (founder of The Light Music Society). His Budgerigar Polka was played by Louis Voss and his Kursaal Orchestra.

My final contribution was written by Raymond Agoult and performed by his players. He called it Honouring the Haggis. As this was the final item in a 'Music While You Work' broadcast, I let the recording run on to take in the show's famous signature tune Calling All Workers by Eric Coates.

All of these pieces were recorded from BBC radio in the early 1960s. It seems sad to me that tuneful music such as these items, hasn't been heard on the radio for decades. There is no outlet for light music on terrestrial broadcasting these days. You have to turn to 'Serenade Radio' (on the internet) for that.

At this point we adjourned for tea. As usual, there was a wide range of CDs for sale, which attracted quite a few buyers.

Tony opened the second part of the programme with I’ll Close My Eyes by accordion band leader, Billy Reid.

Now it was time to welcome to welcome Anthony Wills to the top table. His presentation took the form of a tribute to three legends of the music business, whose deaths have occurred recently.

The first was Stephen Sondheim and Anthony opened with Something's Coming from "West Side Story" performed by Larry Kert (music by Leonard Bernstein). This was followed by Frankie Howerd performing Comedy Tonight from the show "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum."

From the show "Company", Geraldine Turner sang Another Hundred People. All the music for the show "A Little Night Music" was in waltz time, and Anthony played us part of the Overture.

To counteract the suggestion made by some that Sondheim didn’t write TUNES, we listened to Julia McKenzie sing Losing My Mind from the show "Follies".

From the show "Merrily We Roll Along" we were treated to Old Friends featuring Michael Cantwell, Maria Friedman and Evan Pappas. This was the trio number.

Anthony then turned to the lyric-writing team of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Marilyn died in January, aged 93. They wrote lyrics for many of Michel Legrand's compositions. They also provided the lyrics for The Way We Were – music by Marvin Hamlisch, which we then heard, sung by Barbra Streisand.

Anthony’s final tribute was to British composer and lyricist, Leslie Bricusse. We heard Matt Monro sing his 1961 hit, My Kind of Girl (accompanied by the Johnny Spence Orchestra.)

From the show "Stop The World, I Want To Get Off", we heard Danny Williams sing What Kind of Fool Am I?

Leslie Bricusse also collaborated with Henry Mancini for the film "Victor Victoria" from which came the song that we heard next – You And Me – sung by Julie Andrews and Robert Preston.

Anthony concluded his presentation with Bricusse and Newley's The Good Things in Life performed by Tony Bennett in a magnificent arrangement by Robert Farnon.

It was now the turn of Andr? Leon to present some favourites – opening with Haydn Wood's Horse Guards – Whitehall, featuring Ronald Corp and the New London Orchestra. This was followed by Ronald Binge's Sailing By – which is the closedown music for Radio Four.

Staying on that theme, Andr? continued with The Radio Four Theme, (by Fritz Spiegel, arranged by Manfred Arlan), played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by David Parry. Andr? concluded by playing us the first introduction spoken by him on Classic FM.

At this point we took our second interval.

In Part Three, we welcomed, once again, our special guests, The Martin Cleave Trio, who played a delightful selection of light music – as follows:-

Roses From The South –Johann Strauss
On Parade – E.Kershaw
Love's Dream After The Ball –Czibulka
Mi Adorado (Tango)- Joseph Rico
In The Tuileries' Garden –Haydn Wood
The Boulevardier- Frederic Curzon
Melody in F – Rubinstein
Jeux d'Esprit- Harry Dexter

After a short break, the trio continued with:
Chums (March)- Fred Meyer
Song Of Songs – Harold Vickers
Jealousy – Joseph Gade
Petite Valse – Joe Heyne

Tony thanked the trio for their performance – and the audience for their attendance, and reminded us that we shall be meeting up again on October 9th.

Thanks were also conveyed to Ursula Kermack, who looked after the 'door' and to Terry Guntrip for handling the CD sales. Terry performs an invaluable service in running and maintaining our website.

? Brian Reynolds 2022

The next LLMMG meeting will take place at the Lancaster Hall Hotel on Sunday October 9th 2022 – All are welcome, please tell your friends !

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