Kate Bush

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Kate BushWhen we are knee deep in “popular” singers and musicians the key to longevity is elusive. Most come and go. They are good but not memorable. What are the key elements? Talent, passion, grit, persistence and above all else uniqueness. There are some secondary needs – support, publicity, intelligence and perhaps a desire for celebrity status.

Kate Bush – talent yes, passion clearly and from her work that is already well documented grit and persistence in droves. Uniqueness – she almost defines it!

Individuality is perhaps a better expression. And that perhaps is the most challenging thing in a world where one is encouraged to conform; by parents, peers and institutions. Not conforming has its risks of course but the benefits can be much greater; especially if it is combined with genuine talent. Kate Bush stands resolutely stubbornly individual. She would be true heroine in an Ayn Rand novel.

Reading about Kate Bush’s early life to date she was precocious in a good way and wilful with her sponsors – effectively so – she got her way with the choice of her first recordings and apparently even the graphics on the album covers. I will borrow a phrase from music critic Nick Coleman who writes in The Independent “she has stood firmly for artistic independence in the face of corporate will”.

She has refreshingly not sought “celebrity” status – indeed has steadfastly avoided it. Her fame is purely down to her work and talent not her lifestyle. Kate Bush’s reputation is based on her performances and her talent.

Secondary needs were provided for – support from friends and family and intelligence in abundance.

She is there now starkly in the news arising from her current live show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Sadly I have not seen it but have been struck by the reviews and by the response of people interviewed after seeing the show – effusively emotionally favourable – extraordinarily so.

Alexis Petridis writes comprehensively in “The Guardian” – she gets 5 stars from him and he concludes “Already widely acclaimed as the most influential and respected British female artist of the past 40 years, shrouded in the kind of endlessly intriguing mystique that is almost impossible to conjure in an internet age, Bush theoretically had a lot to lose by returning to the stage. Clearly, given how tightly she has controlled her own career since the early 80s, she would only have bothered because she felt she had something spectacular to offer. She was right: ‘Before The Dawn is another remarkable achievement'”

Kate Bush is described as reclusive – to me that is negatively loaded – unfairly judgemental. She had choices in her life that she stuck to resolutely – she has avoided many of the pitfalls of stardom. She seems to have applied the same resolute rules to her daily life as to her performances – she has stood firmly by her decisions. It has of course tantalised her fans and the members of the audiences many of whom were not born when she last performed. Her performances have a mystery about them like her life.

I admire her independence, objectivity, conviction and talent. She should be an inspiration to aspiring young artists especially if they have talent, passion, grit, determination and more than anything else something new.

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BBC Last Night Of The Proms 2014

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The BBC Last Night of the Proms took place on Saturday 13 September 2014.

It was a first for conductor Sakari Oramo. He was joined by

  • Dutch Violinist Janine Jensen
  • Singer Ruthie Henshaw
  • Soprano Elizabeth Watts
  • Tenor John Daszak
  • Baritone Roderick Williams
  • And of course The BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus and essentially

The programme comprises

Composers Piece Duration minutes
Gavin Higgins Velocity BBC Commission world premiere Three
Arnold Peterloo New choral version with lyrics by Sir Tim Rice – another world premiere Nine
Walton Façade Popular song Three
Chausson Poème Sixteen
Tavener Song for Athene Paying tribute to the late John Tavener Seven
Richard Strauss Taillefer Eighteen
Khachaturian Gayane Sabre Dance Three
Ravel Tzigane Nine
Kern Show Boat Ol’ Man River Two
Traditional Joshua Fit the Battle of Jerico (Arr R Williams) Three
Richard M & Robert B Sherman Mary Poppins Medley marking the 50th anniversary Eight
Ansell Plymouth Hoe Eight
Arne Rule Britannia! Arr Sargent Seven
Elgar Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 in D Major Land of Hope and Glory Six
Parry Jerusalem Orc Elgar Four


The conductor Sakari Oramo (OBE) was born in Finland in 1965 and started his career as a violinist and concertmaster of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1989.

From 2003 to 2012 he went on to conduct the same orchestra. He is married to the Finnish soprano Anu Mormsi. He was awarded his honorary OBE in 2009 for services to music in Birmingham where he conducted The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.





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Lauren Bacall

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Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall

There is something about those stars of film from the early to mid 20th century that I find so touching; emotions I cannot define. Touching but they were untouchable. I felt this incredible sadness surrounding the news of Lauren Bacall.

She was not of my generation – really between mine and that of my parents. She was always there classy and cool. In her early years, and she was a star at an early age she clearly made an impression that continued through her life and was reinforced through her relationship, personal and professional, with Humphrey Bogart who she eventually married.

I cannot pretend to be a film buff but she was one of  the icons of her era – famous but mysterious. It will never be like that again. There is no mystery now. Modern communications see to that.

The news of her death touched me more than the news of that of Robin Williams despite his being premature. Certainly little mystery there. It is sad and raw and in our faces. His demise took precedence on some news channels, notably the BBC, above other significant world events in Syria and Iraq. I was not comfortable with that. One death a world event vs statistics!

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Amanda Palmer

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A diversion from my earlier entries – this time an artist of the moment

Amanda Palmer – American performer who first rose to prominence as the lead singer, pianist, and lyricist/composer of the duo The Dresden Dolls. Continue Reading →

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I am continuing my theme of notable older singers. This was not a planned entry. She appeared in the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games at Hampden Park in Glasgow singing her famous hit “Shout”. For that reason is seemed a timely choice.

Looking and moving in a way that belied her age she demonstrated that she is still a consummate performer.

Lulu (Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie) was born in 1948 and has been performing primarily as a singer since the 1960s.

She is a member of an exclusive club – winner of the Eurovision Song Contest with “Boom Bang-a-Bang” in 1969; she shared the title that year with three other entries,” Vivo Vantando”, “De Troubadour” and “Un Jour Un Enfant.”

She was married to Bee Gee Maurice Gibb (1949-1003) in 1969; they divorced in 1973.

In her Wiki entry Lulu is credited with 21 studio albums and 65 singles.

Following her performance at the closing ceremony Kylie Minogue looking dramatic in a basque and an enormous head-dress performed some of her hits. She changed into a pretty white dress later in the show and for me looked much more endearing. Her contribution was to mark the occasion of the next Commonwealth Games to be hosted at Gold Cost City in Queensland Australia in 2018.

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Dionne Warwick

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Dionne WarwickDionne Warwick. Another remarkable artist. Born in 1940 as Marie Dionne Warwick (pronounced I am told War-Wick and not Worrick). She is an American singer, actress and TV-show host as an artist. As a human being Dionne Warwick is a United Nations Global Ambassador for the Food Agriculture Organization and a United States Ambassador for Health. According to the Wiki article and based on the Billboard Hot Singles Charts Dionne Warwick is second only to Aretha Franklin as the most charted female vocalist of all time with 56 of her singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998.

She has won a string of awards and was No 1 female vocalist in the NARM best seller awards for 7 years out 8 between 1964 and 1971; she just missed out in 1965.

She is still very active – a glance at her website  will leave you in no doubt.

Dionne Warwick has  been active since 1962.

With her cousins Witney Houston and opera singer Leontyne Price and aunt Cissy Houston she is from a family with a musical pedigree. Her sons Eamon and David also have had successful music careers along with her sister Dee Dee Warwick.

Here is the music and lyrics for her song All The Love In The World is here

Her recordings if you are in the US – Dionne Warwick

Her recordings if you are in Europe Dionne Warwick

She has perhaps not been so good at keeping control of her tax and financial affairs since she was declared bankrupt in 2013.


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Vera Lynn

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Dame Vera Lynn

The influence and contribution that some extraordinary people make to other people’s lives is truly staggering.

In working through my collection of sheet music I have just come across a piece of music called “I Love To Sing“. It featured in the film “Rhythm Serenade” starring Vera Lynn. The film, a patriotic musical romance, was released in 1943. I was only a tiny fraction in 1943.

What really struck me was that Dame Vera Lynn who is now 97 released an album in June to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Her previous album released when she was 92 topped the UK album charts. Her latest “Vera Lynn: National Treasure -The Ultimate Collection” reached number 13.

Her contribution during WW2 is well known and there she is still providing entertainment to millions of people worldwide.

Vera Lynn – your are fantastic.

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San Toy

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San Toy – The Emperor’s Own

A “Chinese” musical comedy

Amongst my collection of music I found the complete score for San Toy.  Since I had not heard of it I did my research. I discarded the US ship and the US ghost town of the same name in Ohio. My score is for a “Chinese” musical comedy. It was first performed at Daly’s Theatre, London on 21 October 1899 and then ran for 768 performances. Although the musical is described as “Chinese” this relates to the story rather than the origin. The musical was not Chinese nor created by Chinese. At least I don’t think so from the names of the author, lyricists and composers. The story was written by Edward Morton, musical score by Sidney Jones. Lyrics were written by Harry Greenbank and Adrian Ross with addition material by Lionel Monkton. Further performances followed at the same theatre between 1901 and 1905 and opened on Broadway in 1900. The musical was also regularly performed by amateur theatre groups up until the 1930s but according to the Wiki article rarely after that.

The Wikipedia article suggests that the language and stereotyping in the show would not now be considered politically correct. A look at the names of some of the characters might be rather mocking. There is a Captain Bobby Preston – nothing sinister there but then we get Sin Hi, Fo Hop, Fang, Li Hi and Li Lo, Li , Chu, Wun Lung, Ko Fan, Yung Shi, Yen How and his daughter San Toy. There are some mickey-taking westernised names too. Mrs Hay Stackpori, Mary Lambkin and Harley Streeter. It seems rather a shame that no one will take it on. It looks like great fun. There is a synopsis (from Wikipedia) The score is complete and in good condition bearing in mind its age. Pages are a little yellow and the cover, which may be leather, is a little scuffed. It is gilt embossed with the name “Ada Slater”. The score is on this website – here is the link San Toy Musical Score. Or you can download a digital version free of charge. Continue Reading →

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Sheet Music Additions

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Notes about some of today’s additions

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s – Amigos Para Siempre (Friends for Life)

This was written for the 1992 Summer Olympics and performed at the closing ceremony by Sarah Brightman and José Carreras. It peaked at no. 11 in the UK charts. The other anthem performed at the games was “Barcelona” sung by Freddy Mercury and Montserrat Caballé. The lyrics are in English except for the title that is repeated in English, Catalan and Spanish.

Two pieces recorded by Diana Ross

When You Tell Me That You Love Me

Words and music by Albert Hammond and John Bettis

Touch Me In The Morning

Words by Ron Miller and Music by Michael Masser

There is a version of

Knockin’ On Heaven’s DoorKnocking on heavan's door

This  was adapted in memory of the schoolchildren and teacher killed in the Dunblane massacre. The song was released in December 1996 with the Scottish musician Ted Christopher, guitarist Mark Knopfler with the children from the school singing the chorus. The proceeds of the sale of the record went to charities for children.

Title Performed by*
Soul Bossa Nova Quincy Jones + orchestra
Someday Eternal
Anywhere For You Back Street Boys
Rock DJ Robbie Williams
I’m Outta Love Anastacia
Help The Aged Pulp
Guiding Start Cast


* These are the performances referred to on the printed music. Each piece probably has been performed by other artists.

These are all used examples of sheet music in good condition.

Go here to find the music – sheet music






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BBC Proms 2014

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BBC Proms 2014I have a collection of sheet music much of which I would describe as vintage. It falls into a number of categories. Any music from the 20th century will be ‘vintage’ to young people whose musical appetites are satisfied by the pop channels, music videos and clubs. Beatles, Stones, Hayley definitely can be described as vintage. Go back a bit further to the first half of that century and there is music from the films – there is some here (and there is much more to come from my collection). Further back still there was Victorian, the pop music of the day that would have been enjoyed live in music halls and the like.

At the heart though is classical music. It’s not at the forefront of many people’s daily lives in an ostentatious way but I argue that it forms the building blocks of our musical taste almost subconsciously. It will vary depending on where you come from. I can’t relate to Asian music for example but my guess is that the principles are just the same. That classical music is the rock on which everything else is built – whether it is Western, Eastern or African. It is a lubricant for our brains.

I’m of course leading to the BBC Proms 2014 that have just started. Most of the music that will be played would not be described culturally as pop music but it is clearly very popular. Even if you don’t go to or listen actively to the concerts it will inevitably form part of the music you absorb. This annual event or rather season of musical events runs from 18 July to 13 September 2014. We might have been impressed by Glastonbury and the array of talent and the size and enthusiasm of the audience but its contribution pales when compared with the BBC proms.

And there will be no mud!

All that you need to know is here BBC Proms




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