About this Recording
8.225161 - WORLAND: Tres Senoritas / Shopping Spree
English  French  German  Spanish 

Bill Worland (b. 1921)
Orchestral works

 

"Light Music is where the tune is more important than what you do with it." This is a definition given by Andrew Gold, head of the BBC's Light Music Unit from 1965 to 1969. The emphasis of the genre is indeed on melody, normal harmonies, familiar tonalities. Many works are short, virtually all are non-vocal. Easy on the ear, one might say. It is, however, a genre which became increasingly (and unfairly) neglected from the late 1950s onwards, often dubbed the 'poor relation' of the music world. The situation was not helped by the withdrawal by the BBC of several light music programmes (such as Morning Melody, Invitation to Music Breakfast Special, and Roundabout), the tendency of producers to stick to already 'well-known' repertoire, and the disappearance of BBC Regional House Orchestras.

All of this had a knock-on effect: a complete lack of interest in Light Music from publishers and record companies alike, and in particular, a neglect of music by living composers. Ernest Tomlinson, composer, arranger and conductor, and chairman of the Composers' Guild and the Light Music Society had, with many other devotees (including the present writer) fought tirelessly for a fair deal, but to no avail.

In March 1975 a letter I received from Iain Sutherland (who had quit the BBC for a freelance role) described the situation as 'a disaster area'. Consequently, the Light Music Society was put into mothballs, so to speak. Iain's letter concluded, "I wish you good luck in your quest". He was referring to my dogged persistence; still composing, still searching for performances, in what was undoubtedly a bleak and hopeless situation. In a review of my autobiography, Fumble Four Bars In, Ernest Tomlinson wrote: "Most composers gave up any thought of trying to fight the system, but Bill is to be commended for his persistence." Persistence indeed! But not solely on my part.

I have a tape of a BBC Radio 4 broadcast from April 1996, in which Ernest Tomlinson gave an account of recording light music CDs with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra. Despite the tag 'Symphony', the orchestra loved what they were recording: music is music, no matter how you try to put it into compartments.

At the same time, Marco Polo had recently begun to issue its British Light Music series, and other companies were quick to jump on the bandwagon. While it was great to see the renaissance in Light Music gathering pace, the down-side was that all the big names in the business were playing safe — playing down 'Memory Lane', in fact. Many of the works recorded were from the 'potted palms and aspidistras' era, and contemporary light music was hardly represented at all. Even the composers of works written in the immediate post-war years have long since passed away. I do love many of these 'yesteryear' pieces — I was brought up on them - but what about the living composer? I find it apposite here to quote Arthur Honegger: "The public doesn't want new music; the main thing it demands of a composer is that he be dead."

Ernest Tomlinson took the Light Music Society out of its mothballs in 1996. It was a healthy, live and kicking rebirth, with the Society gaining in influence and stature and with a fast-growing membership. Thanks to Ernest and to Marco Polo, this disc presents some of these 'Melodies of Mine'. They are different, if not unique, in that they were created in defiance of a pop-laden climate on one hand; on the other, the nostalgic "play something familiar" syndrome, over a time-span of more than four decades, and cover a variety of styles, rhythms and flavours that I feel epitomise the wide spectrum of the genre.

Written in 1956, Shopping Spree was first broadcast in a BBC Radio Breakfast Special programme, and received the comment "It's very Bob Farnon-ish." It went on to be used as background music in the British film We Think the World of You.

The Spanish suite Tres Señoritas was inspired by a 1960s popular painting depicting three 'Spanish Ladies' in a courtyard setting. The three movements of the suite characterize each of the ladies concerned, Miguela, Carlotta and Conchita. The tango Carlotta found its way some years later into the 1980 British film Under Suspicion.

Rhapsodie Tristesse was composed during the 1950s and, as the title suggests, is a somewhat sad theme, written at the time of the death of my musical guru, with whom I was associated for nearly thirty years.

Brighton Belle is inspired by the famous train of the same name, which, with its luxurious Victorian interior, was beloved and adored by the many local showbiz personalities who travelled aboard her between Brighton and London. Where is she now? Rotting away in a siding?

There is a lot of tuneful instrumental Latin American music which can be termed as 'light'. Latin Lover is the fast and exciting first movement of the suite Lightly Latin, and was written in the l950s. Subsequent movements, penned in the period 1965-86, include Pepita, which was originally conceived as a song; Happy Hacienda, Bossa Romantica and Sombrero.

The repetitive seven-note theme of Leeds Castle sets to music Lord Conway's lyrical description, "loveliest castle in the world". It is probably unique too in that it is still intact, has none of the usual 'blood and thunder' historical background, and stands by a lake surrounded by acres of rolling Kent countryside.

To Eleanor is a musical tribute inspired by a poignant love story. It is dedicated to Queen Eleanor of Castille, who nursed her husband King Edward I back to health following his near-fatal wounding in the Crusades.

Dreaming Spires is descriptive of that lovely city, Oxford, with its many churches and chapels. It takes its name from a poem by Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), who held the post of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 1857-1867.

Millennium - A Celebration March (for 1 January 2001), is a march with a little difference as it incorporates a true new year and Millennium spirit with its Big Ben chimes and pealing church bells.

Like Ernest Tomlinson, I have the habit of turning something which began as a song into an instrumental item – It's Spring Again is one such piece.

Scottish Power has nothing to do with the company of that name. It is a dedication to a Scots lassie I know so well, with whom there was such a magnetic attraction, and whose maiden name was Power. When sorting through the music for this recording, I came across several old manuscripts. One of these was dated 1973 and headed 'March with a Scottish flavour — title?' Certain events and influences prompted the development of the existing sixteen bar theme into a mini-suite consisting of a march, a reel and an idyllic adagio ('By the Loch'). It was hardly finished when it was brought to life by the enthusiastic RTE orchestra for this recording.

In the Shadow of Vesuvius is a Neapolitan sojourn, depicting in turns the ever-threatening volcano, sunrise over the bay of Naples, and the gathering pace of life in Naples. A lively tarantella depicts the festa and, as Italy seems to abound with festas, this movement is repeated. 'Harbour Lights' theme depicts the Bay of Naples, a glittering night-time spectacle followed by an evocative finale, 'Say Goodbye'.

The Italian theme recurs in the piece Amaro Dolce, with its two contrasting melodies illustrating a bitter-sweet Italian romance.

Bill Worland


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