Music & Conversation: The Podcast of English Composer Andrew Downes
Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 10

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 10

June 15, 2021

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 10 describes Frank's time in Paris and Germany at the end of the war and also his gigging on his return to London. He is finally demobbed at the end of the chapter. The episode ends with the first movement of Andrew Downes' Symphony No. 1, for organ, brass, percussion and strings, recorded by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under Ondrej Vrabec in 2016 for the Artesmon Label. This work depicts the horrors of nuclear war, so reflects my Grandad's uncomfortable retelling of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagesaki in 1945.  Find out more: https://www.andrewdownes.com/Orchestral.html#SYMPHONY1

Episode 29: Far from the Madding Crowd

Episode 29: Far from the Madding Crowd

June 8, 2021

Paula Downes interviews the composer, librettist, cast and crew involved in the premiere of the opera Far from the Madding Crowd by Andrew Downes, based on Thomas Hardy's novel. https://www.andrewdownes.com/Opera.html#FFTMC

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 9

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 9

April 30, 2021

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 9 continues the tales of Frank's RAF tour of forward airfields in Belgium and Holland in 1944/5, including New Year's Day attacks, a near escape from a V1, a blissful visit to the Montgomerry club, and lessons with Jean Faulx, Principal Horn player of the Orchèstra Nationale of Belgium. The episode ends with the second movement of Andrew Downes' Centenary Firedances for Symphony Orchestra, performed by the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra under Jonathan Del Mar in 1989. This work conjures up the nostalgia, sadness, humour and sense of adventure in Frank's text, as well as the explosions depicted by the percussion section, originally written to go with fireworks as part of a big display for the Centenary of Birmingham celebrations in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham in 1989, in front of 20,000 people.  Find out more: https://www.andrewdownes.com/Orchestral.html#SYMPHONIC

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 8

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 8

March 25, 2021

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 8 tells of his RAF tour to Brussels in 1944/5, including the uncomfortable journeys, the German propaganda, performances they gave and the dangers they faced. The episode ends with Andrew Downes' "Blazon" from his Suite for Six Horns, performed by the hornists of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra on their CD entitled "Andrew Downes: Music for Horns and Wagner Tubas", recorded for the Artesmon Label in 2008.  This CD is in memory of Frank Downes.

Episode 26: Martin Riley

Episode 26: Martin Riley

March 1, 2021

Paula Downes interviews Martin Riley: Composer, Performer, Music Director, Mentor, and student at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire from 1988 when Andrew Downes was setting up his school of Composition and Creative Studies there. Martin has gone on to teach at the Conservatoire himself as well as having an extremely successful performing and composing career, ranging from touring with Classical Brit Award winners Blake performing live on BBC Radio 2 on Terry Wogan’s show and BBC London Radio for Gaby Roslin; to composing for the Moscow Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras; from arranging and composing music for the Southern Sinfonia (composer-in-residence) to playing keyboards with Roger Daltrey and Alice Cooper.
https://www.andrewdownes.com
https://martinriley.info

Episode 25: Tony Bridgewater

Episode 25: Tony Bridgewater

January 29, 2021

Paula Downes interviews Tony Bridgewater: composer, pianist, conductor, teacher and family friend. He met Andrew Downes at the Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) in the late 70s for advice on studying at Cambridge and composition. He met Anna Downes at a concert, after which he employed her as Head of Instrumental Studies at Old Swinford Hospital School, where he was Director of Music. They have since given many recitals together, performing works by both Andrew and Tony, and have been joined by soprano Paula Downes, for whom Tony has written 2 song cycles which are featured on this podcast: The Other Side of the Mirror and Snowflakes. On one occasion they were also joined by violist Cynthia Downes for the premieres of 2 song cycles by Andrew Downes. Tony talks about how his compositions have since been influenced by the music of Andrew Downes.

Works by Andrew Downes featured on this podcast include Celtic Rhapsody for Soprano and Symphony Orchestra with piano reduction by Paula Downes, song cycles The Door of Winter and Four Songs of Bluebeard's Wife, with poetry by living poets Bernard Davis and Julie Boden, and his Violin Sonata.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 7

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 7

January 16, 2021

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 7 tells of RAF Central Band Marches around  cities including Birmingham and Cardiff; of his wedding to Iris; and recounts Dennis Matthews' diary of events of his experiences of the RAF Central Band tour of America. At the end of the episode, the first movement of Andrew Downes' Sonata for 8 Horns is played since ithe premiere took place at the University of Mexico, near the route of the 40-hour train journey Dennis Matthews describes from Fort Worth, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona. The recording is of the Horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra for the Artesmon Label. The full work can be heard at andrewdownes.com, where you can also purchase the CD and WAV files.

We are delighted to announce that our podcast has been chosen as no.19 of the TOP 30 COMPOSITION PODCASTS by Feedspot!

https://blog.feedspot.com/music_composition_podcasts/   

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 6

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 6

December 14, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 6 tells of funny mishaps during RAF parades; touring south Wales and meeting his brother in Cardiff where he was performing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic as the Lead Violist; and most importantly of his engagement to his wife Iris, and the lovely time they spent in Colchester, where she was working for the Fire Service. At the end of the episode, the first movement of Andrew Downes' 3rd Symphony is played since it is a work Iris loved. The recording comes from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra's recording of all of Andrew's Symphonies. The full work can be heard at andrewdownes.com.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 5

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 5

November 26, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 5 tells of Frank's fascinating adventures with the RAF Central Band, as well as memories of the amazing horn playing of Dennis Brain. At the end of this episode, Andrew Downes' Concerto for Four Horns and Symphony Orchestra, 1st movement is played since many of the works mentioned in this chapter are horn concertos, and Frank was present at the premiere. The recording comes from the radio broadcast by the horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, for whom the work was written, with the Czech Radio Orchestra in 2003. The full work can be heard at andrewdownes.com.

Around the Horn by Frank Downes, Chapter 4

Around the Horn by Frank Downes, Chapter 4

September 17, 2020

Paula Downes reads her Grandfather and Andrew Downes' father Frank's book, Around the Horn, which tells the story of the Classical Music Industry from the point of view of a professional Horn player. Born 1921, died 2005, his fascinating orchestral career spanned the demise of the silent cinema, municipal seaside orchestras, the RAF Central band during World War II, orchestral playing in pre and post-war Britain, and the rise towards a Royal title for the Birmingham Conservatoire. Chapter 4 tells of Frank meeting his future wife, Iris; his successful audition for the RAF Central Band and adventures as a raw recruit including the forging of many longterm friendships with musicians such as Dennis Brain and Denis Matthews; his time studying with Frank Probyn at the Royal College of Music. At the end of this episode, Andrew Downes' Sonata for Four Horns, 1st movement is played to highlight the fact that Andrew followed in his father's footsteps by learning the French horn and by studying singing and composition at the Royal College of Music with Herbert Howells. The recording comes from the CD, Andrew Downes: Works for Horns and Wagner Tubas, decidated to the memory of Frank Downes.

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