Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Len Stevens: Cinema Foyer

Cinema Foyer will conjure up many happy memories for those of us old enough to recall 'going to the pictures' before they became multi-screens. I think of the the State Cinema in Shettleston, Glasgow where I used to go on a Saturday morning with a variety of other ‘urchins.’ We would pay up our 6d for the matinee performance of cartoons and ‘B’ films – often about cowboys. The only refreshments that I can recall were Kia-ora orange juice and Walls ice cream. Politically incorrect usherettes would clatter some miscreant around the ear if they gave her cheek. Any love-interest in the films was greeted by embarrassing cat-calls and whistling. And then a few years later it was back to the cinema with a girl-friend. Scraping together enough money to go and see The Clockwork Orange (it was a cult film that everyone went see even if they were under 18) and have a fly, dark rum and blackcurrant in a little lounge bar beforehand.
Len Stevens, whose full name was Herbert Leonard Stevens, has contributed a number of light music classics to the genre including such delightful numbers as Lido Fashion Parade, Hurly Burly and the less healthy Cigarette Girl.
Cinema Foyer is a neatly scored number that initially presents a quirky little woodwind tune. However things then become a little more straightforward. There is a sense of innocence about this music that defies the general tenor of my one-time compatriots. Interestingly Stevens does not introduce a romantic theme.  I am not sure when the piece was written but the early nineteen-fifties seems like a good bet.
Len Steven’s, delightful miniature is one of those works that you will find no-one has bothered to write about. It was composed for use in libraries of sound – in this case Chappell’s – which would be used for documentaries and newsreels.  To my knowledge there is only one version of this work on  CD: The Queen's Hall Light Orchestra Volume 1 which I believe has now been deleted by Dutton Epoch but is worth searching out in one of the many MP3 files that are for sale.

Finally, like my schools and churches in Lanarkshire, the State Cinema was razed to the ground in our more enlightened era. 

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