Saturday, 23 April 2016

Wally Stott: Skyways

When I was quite young, my father used to take me down to Renfrew Airport, which until 1966 was the ‘domestic’ airport for Glasgow. It was often a Saturday afternoon treat.  I can remember once going to see a friend off on a flight to Orkney. In those days the passengers were allowed to walk on the tarmac and onto the waiting planes.  I was fascinated by the noise, the man with the batons directing the planes into the bays and the little cargo carriers scooting about with the luggage. After my friend boarded we were safely ensconced in the then relatively new terminal building cafeteria sipping orange juice and Golden Wonder crisps, waving to the departing plane.
I often wonder what aircraft flew from Renfrew at that time: there were certainly some DC10s on the short hops to Campbeltown and Belfast. My friend, I recall, had a BEA shoulder bag: I was really envious of this. By the time I first flew they had stopped giving bags away. Occasionally, my father would take me to Prestwick which was at that time the International Airport for Scotland. It was exciting to watch the transatlantic airliners taking off for New York Idelwild (JFK). At that time, for me, the Big Apple could have been a million miles away.

Wally Stott’s Skyways (c.1962) evokes the excitement of air travel in the early1960s. It is a striking and powerful piece of music with a big romantic tune accompanied by swirling harps and bells and whistles. The middle eight has music that is a little more up tempo suggesting Stateside rather than the Scottish Isles.  I imagine that this piece of music would have been used as the score for documentaries and newsreels featuring air travel. 

To my knowledge there is only one recording of this impressive piece available on CD. That is on The Golden Age of Light Music: Here’s to Holidays GLCD 5205

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