Music & Conversation: The Podcast of English Composer Andrew Downes

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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