Music & Conversation: The Podcast of English Composer Andrew Downes
Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 15

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 15

May 31, 2022

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 15 leads to Frank's appointment to Hornist of the BBC Midland Light Orchestra in 1953, with whom he recorded The Archers theme tune, to be broadcast on Radio 4 multiple times a week until 1992, when it was re-recorded. It also covers Frank's move into teaching at the Birmingham School of Music. Paula has chosen to end this episode with the third movement of Andrew Downes' Centenary Firedances, since the loud noises in this piece (originally composed to be performed with fireworks) evoke the loud noises Frank and his CBSO colleagues had to make on their instruments on their way back from a gig, in order to be rescued from a train carriage, which had been forgotten about and shunted down a dark tunnel late at night at Birmingham New Street Station!  This work was written for the Centenary of Birmingham celebrations in 1989. Find out more here: https://www.andrewdownes.com/Orchestral.html#SYMPHONIC

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 14

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 14

January 31, 2022

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 14 is about Frank's appointment to Principal Hornist of the CBSO in 1949. Paula has chosen to end this episode with the second movement of Andrew Downes' Concerto for Piano and Symphony Orchestra, which was premiered at Birmingham Town Hall, which Frank mentions during this chapter.  This work was written for pianist Duncan Honeybourne with the Central England Ensemble, conductor Anthony Bradbury, Leader Anna Downes and Lead Violist Cynthia Downes. This recording is of the premiere on March 1st 2009. Find out more here: https://www.andrewdownes.com/Soloists-with-Orchestra.html#PIANOSYMPHONY

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 13

Around the Horn by Frank Downes: Chapter 13

December 6, 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 13 is about Frank's time in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Malcom Sargent, performing at the first Edinburgh Festival in 1947, the Elgar Festival in Malvern, recordings with the Huddersfield Choral Society, and Sargent's Knightood. Paula has chosen to end this episode with the first movement of Andrew Downes' Sonata for Violin, Horn and Piano.  This work was commissioned by the Brahms Trio Prague (Ondrej Vrabec, solo and principal horn, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra; Monika Vrabcova, violin; and Daniel Wiesner, piano), who gave the world premiere on February 5th 2008 in the Suk Hall of the Rudolfinum, Prague. The Brahms Trio Prague (Ondrej Vrabec, Monika Vrabcova and Daniel Wiesner) recorded the work for CD in 2008, on the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Artesmon Label. Find out more here: https://www.andrewdownes.com/Instrumental-Solo.html#VIOLINHORNPIANO

Episode 34: Organist Robin Walker

Episode 34: Organist Robin Walker

November 28, 2021

Paula Downes chats to Robin Walker about his 2021 Regent Records release of The Forest at Dawn, organ works by Andrew Downes. Eastwood Records recorded all the organ works of Andrew Downes performed by Robin Walker in Ely Cathedral in October 2020.

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: Bass Guitarist Fred Thelonius Baker

Episode 32: Bass Guitarist 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: Opera Far from the Madding Crowd

Episode 29: Opera 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

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