A 234th GARLAND OF BRITISH LIGHT MUSIC COMPOSERS
First, here is another clutch of composers for young
people. Geoffrey Hayes’ The Christmas Gift, for narrator,
unison voices and piano, dates from 1982. Tony Weston’s Humbug!,
a musical play in two acts (1979), is of course based on Charles Dickens'
A Christmas Carol; Weston has also composed unison songs for
juniors. Roy Heaton Smith’s The Birthday, based on the
Nativity, was written in 1960 and is for children’s voices and piano.
Tony Biggin was responsible for Quest of the Gold Eye,
set in the heyday of the Medes and Persians, and for The Fire and
the Hammer. Clifford Crawley wrote many unison songs plus
the musical Porky, Snorky and Corky. Peter Hutchings’
A Midsummer Nightmare (1984) is loosely based on Shakespeare
and Piers Chater Robinson’s The Adventures of Mr Toad
(1988) is founded, of course, on "The Wind in the Willows".
Monica Shelton composed the unison songs Round About the Seasons
and, in 1987, the musical The Music Train; Frederick C. Bird’s
Seaspell appeared in 1989. But many composers have had a
go at musicals for the young; among those we have discussed previously
we can mention Herbert Chappell with his Daniel Jazz, Goliath
Jazz, Prodigal Son Jazz et al. Wilfred Josephs with Through
the Looking Glass (1978), an opera for children in a prologue, an
epilogue and twelve scenes. John Parker (Blastoff! Mr
Jones Goes to Jupiter, 1986), Donald Swann (Baboushka,
1979 and the curiously titled Wacky and His Fiddlejig, 1978).
Desmond Ratcliffe (A Children’s Nativity 1963 and Nativity
By Lantern Light, 1967).
To conclude this 234th offering. I remember
a few of those who have compiled instrumental and orchestral music for
young amateurs though this category overlaps a little with that in the
above paragraph. Geoffrey Winters, for example, who lives in
Ipswich, has penned Thames Journey, The Tailor of Camberwell
Green and Drake’s Voyage and short songs, all for unison
voices, in addition to Variations on A French Tune and Festive
March, both 1963, for orchestra, Miniature Suite and Cowboy
Suite for recorders, Seven Riders for piano solo and Shapes
for tuned percussion. Greta Tomkins also wrote unison and other
choral songs, plus the suite At The Circus, for unison voices,
recorders, piano and percussion and an Alpine Suite for recorders.
Llifon Hughes-Jones produced unison and other choral songs, plus
Two Short Pieces for oboe and piano and Langdon Overture
(1970) and Two Preludes (1972) for orchestra.
David Jepson was responsible for a Festival
March for amateur orchestra as well as church music. David J.
Newstone lived in Hull, so it was natural for him to compile The
Humber Bridge suite (with S. L. Burnby) in 1980 to celebrate that
structure's opening.(see footnote) A third David, David Clover,
wrote Saturday Morning: A Nursery Suite for orchestra in 1968
and Mini Blues Suite and Three Play Five, both for recorders.
Herbert F. Taylor published Prelude to a Ceremony, again
for student orchestra, in 1973; Niso Ticciati, English-domiciled,
composed An Epping Forest Suite, just 4˝ minutes long, in 1968,
along with a Fanfare for wind and percussion, Minuet and Berceuse
for viola and piano and many editions of older music. Andrew Downes
(1950-), Professor at the Birmingham Conservatoire has in the course
of a generally serious output, published the overtures In the Cotswolds
(1987) and Overture for Saint Cere, together with Fanfare
for a Ceremony (how similar are some of these orchestral
Stephen Burnaby adds:
The Humber Bridge Suite (composed David Newstone and
Stephen Burnby) was the only foray into light orchestral writing for
both of us. It was written at the time of the bridge's construction
(c. 1980), and was based largely on musical themes by DN (with some
additional ideas by myself) and largely orchestrated and arranged by
myself. Although I was born in Hull (1950) I now live in Brighouse,
West Yorkshire. DN was born Walthamstow, London in c.1944 ( I think)
and last I heard lives in Knottingley, Yorkshire. My main instrument
is piano / keyboards (with an occasional touch of French Horn), and
Dave is a guitarist / drummer / magician / entertainer.
The two of us met whilst working for the same company
in Hull, and sharing many interests as semi-pro musicians and entertainers
(working in our separate trios / bands) collaborated on this one project.
It was originally 'road-tested' by the Hull Junior Philharmonic
Orchestra, whose then conductor Mr David Scotney gave several performances
(one I remember was at the Middleton Hall, Hull University). Mr Scotney
was then engaged to conduct the work for an L.P. recording, which was
made by an orchestra of local musicians formed specially for the purpose,
which took place at the Hull Arts Centre, and was substantially financed
by a grant from the Musicians Union.
As the length of the Suite was only sufficient to fill
one side of the L.P., I rearranged the work for my band, and recorded
a keyboard / synth / guitars / drums / bass version on side 2. The collective
recording was then known as 'Both Sides of the Bridge' , with the orchestral
version representing the North Side , and the group version the South
PS I don't believe there is any connection between Dave
and the conductor Harry Newstone - at least he never made any mention
Philip L Scowcroft
Philip's book 'British Light Music Composers' (ISBN 0903413 88 4) is
currently out of print.