Friday, 7 November 2008

Peter Yorke: Highdays & Holidays

As the first snow falls in London and the chill winter winds whip around Docklands, the mind turns to thoughts of holidays – both past and present. Now like most people I enjoy going abroad in search of the sun and a bit of Italian or Spanish culture (and food and wine!) However, if I am honest, my heart is not quite in the highlands, as an old Scot once sang, but in the typical British holiday resort.
Whether it was driving down to Lytham St Anne’s in the Hillman Minx or taking the Western Region to ‘Glorious Devon’ it comes to the same thing. The promise of a traditional holiday by the sea – rain and all. I suppose my ideal would involve piers, promenades, pavilion orchestras – now almost entirely disappeared- ice-creams, brass bands, Wurlitzer’s and possibly trams (if the trip was to Blackpool) And of course there was always the possibility of a holiday romance!

Peter Yorke’s Highdays and Holidays exemplifies all these images and icons for me. From the first note to the last the excitement of travelling and finally arriving at the seaside are felt in every bar and every note. It is easy to hear the ‘rhythm of the rails’ as well as the romance of the dance floor or the peregrination along the prom! There is much bustle but also a few quieter moments.
Peter Yorke (1902-1966) is one of the lesser known grandees of the light music world. Yet after a period of apprenticeship, working with many of the great British bands of the era, including Percival Mackey, Jack Hylton and Henry Hall. In the mid thirties he collaborated with the impresario Louis Levy, who was one of the pioneers of the British film industry. At this time Levy employed a number of composers including Clive Richardson, Charles Williams and Jack Beaver. However , in those days it was rare for the composer to be given a screen credit.
For a period stretching over 20 years Yorke conducted a concert orchestra for which he wrote many arrangements and new numbers, including the present Highdays and Holidays.
Hear Louis Voss and his Orchestra play this work on Guild GLCD 5115

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