Music & Conversation: The Podcast of English Composer Andrew Downes
Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 12

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 12

October 4, 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 12 is about Frank's time in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Malcom Sargent and Adrian Boult, tours around the UK, the Isle of Man and Ireland. Since Frank ends this chapter with a tale of the horn section attempting to leave a concert as soon as it ended, not realising that Malcom Sargent was planning to conduct the Prelude to Act 3 of Wagner's Lohengrin as an encore, and therefore not being ready to play some prominent horn passages, Paula has chosen to end this episode with the last movement of Andrew Downes' Concerto for Four Horns and Symphony Orchestra, a work in which the horns are particularly prominent! This work was composed for the Horns of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in the Rudolfinum, Prague in 2002 and Frank attended the premiere. The recording is the same horn players (Radek Baborak, Stanislav Suchanek, Ondrej Vrabec, and Zdenek Divoky), with the Czech Radio Orchestra, which was broadcast on Czech Radio in March 2003. https://www.andrewdownes.com/Soloists-with-Orchestra.html#FOURHORNS

Episode 32: Fred Thelonius Baker

Episode 32: Fred Thelonius Baker

September 10, 2021

Paula interviews world-renowned jazz guitarist and bassist, Fred Thelonius Baker.  Fred was a student at Birmingham School of Music (now Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) from 1979, and studied composition with Andrew Downes. Andrew went on to invite Fred to teach at Birmingham Conservatoire in 1989, which led to Fred being a major part of Andrew's new School of Composition and Creative Studies from the early 90s. Fred has been a permanent teacher/lecturer in accoustic and bass guitar there ever since.

In the mid 90s, Andrew composed his Concerto for Guitar, Electric Bass Guitar and Strings for Fred playing Electric Bass with Simon Dinnigan playing Acoustic Guitar. They recorded it for CD in 1999 with string players from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Fred and Simon also arranged Downes' Piano Sonatina, Movement 2 for Electric Bass and Acoustic Guitar and also recorded this for the CD. All of these works are played throughout the episode. More information on the works and the CD can be found here: https://www.andrewdownes.com/Soloists-with-Orchestra.html#GUITARSTRINGS

Fred Thelonious Baker is a Jazz guitarist and bassist from the English village of Tibshelf, Derbyshire. Born in 1960, Fred was given a ukulele when he was four by his father. Indeed, Fred’s parents were a major influence in the beginning of his musical journey. A year later, he was given his first guitar and went on to learn the Classical guitar. During his mid-teens, Fred also began an interest in the bass guitar, an instrument with which he has
since become synonymous.

After studying at Chesterfield College, Fred went on to study at Birmingham School of Music (now Conservatoire) where he gained a GBSM and ABSM in teaching and performance. Around this time, at the invitation of Sir John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Fred began teaching at Wavendon All Music Summer School. Since then, Fred has taught and given masterclasses at many universities, music colleges and music Summer schools
including Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Berkeley College of Music, USA, St Petersburg Conservatory, Russia, London Brunel, Huddersfield, Sheffield, and Derby Universities. Since 1989, he has been a permanent teacher/lecturer in acoustic and bass
guitar at Birmingham Conservatoire.

Fred has performed all over the world as a session musician and soloist with a variety of musicians and ensembles including Courtney Pine, Nigel Kennedy, Billy Cobham, the CBSO, Fairport Convention, Robert Wyatt, Harry Beckett, Horace Parlan, Soft Machine, John Etheridge, Pip Pyle, Ric Sanders, Karen Street, Joe Sachse, Tony Levin, Phil Bates, Clive Bunker, Elton Dean, Simon Dinnigan, Geoff Eales, Liam Genocky and Phil Miller.

As both a jazz guitarist and bassist, Fred has appeared extensively
on many recordings. "Spinal Tap" from his solo accoustic guitar CD, Life Suite, will be played on this episode.

Fred is currently working on the legacy of the late Phil Miller: https://philmillerthelegacy.com

 

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 11

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 11

July 26, 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 11 is about Frank's return to professional horn playing following the end of the war and the birth of his first child, Judith. He played for Sadlers Wells Ballet for a short time before gaining a position with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Malcom Sargent. This epdisode ends with Folkdance from Andrew Downes' Suite for Brass Quintet No.1, because the performances of this work all over the UK, reflect the Sadlers Well tour Frank did, and the music is ideal for dancing to. The work is performed by Sennet Brass, recorded in 2020 as part of Andrew Downes' 70th Birthday year.

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/   

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