55 thoughts on “My Dad sings with Huddersfield Choral in Desert Island Discs 70th Anniversary Prom at the Royal Albert Hall

  1. Dad has been singing with Huddersfield Choral now for 30 years and he has a badge on his jacket tonight which glints in the lights. Where is he ? 10 from the right, front row. We have good seats but we can’t really see his expression. So what were the treats ? Kirsty Young introduced us to a variety of guests : Michael Parkinson & Sue Lawley of course, John Sessions, Darcey Bussell, Wayne Marshall and Sir Richard Attenborough (swoon) and the BBC Concert Orchestra played Eric Coates Sleepy Lagoon, written in…. Bognor! Then we’re onto the pop classics : Prokofiev’s Dance of The Knights from Romeo & Juliet – you know it because the central riff has been in tons of adverts, but in it’s context here and played in full (5 minutes) it is magnificent.

    Wayne Marshall then stepped up to the giant GIANT organ and played the shit out of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor which sounded like a musical earthquake shaking the building. Top moment of the night for drama.

    Then we heard a recording of Roy Plumley talking to Jacky du Pre followed by – of course – 1st movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. A young soloist who was a trifle weedy for my taste but note perfect.

    Then Willard White had a sore throat so Bryn Terfel came on as sub. Decent bench. He sang The Death Of Minnehaha from Hiawatha written by Samuel Coleridge Taylor and the Huddersfield Choral got their first sweeping harmonies underway. Tremendous.

    Now then. This was followed by “a Beatles suite”. I could write a whole book on why this might be a bad idea, but part of me thrilled that they were at least acknowledged. But Eleanor Rigby wasn’t sung – none of them were – big big big mistake. A classical “re-imagining” which was indulgent, fussy and missed the point. Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane were much more successful, but again fiddling with a classic – even a pop classic – is disrespectful egotistic and irritating for the listener. Very very irritating. The Long And Winding Road was a dirge. Get someone to sing it, and play it as arranged. That’s what you do with Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy isn’t it>? SO ANNOYED.

    The first half closed with Handel and two excerpts from The Messiah including the Hallelujah Chorus (chosen 41 times on DID we were told) Now this is the Huddersfield Choral’s signature piece, sung every Christmas in the Town Hall and it took the roof off. Follow that ? with an interval.

    Rather brilliantly I found myself standing behind my dad in the gents at the interval. It seemed kind of normal.

    Part two opened with the Match Of The Day theme WITH THE WRONG ENDING. Christ. Then we stepped up several gears and Peter Donohoe came out to play the giant Steinway in The Emperor Piano Concerto by Ludwig Van – a colossal piece for the instrument and he smashed it. Which means it was tremendous, outstanding etc, not that he broke the piano. Definitely the heaviest metal of the event…

    Puccini had a turn – two superb arias from Tosca and Madame Butterfly sung by Ailish Tynan, the most beautiful moment of the night musically to my deaf ears.

    But then oh Readers if you are still with me we had the Desert Island Hits. The top eight songs (pretty much) requested on the 70 years of that wireless programme. You can probably guess what they were. I had one genuine tingle moment, and lots of sighs. Songs were murdered in a variety of ways. My dad has the pop sensibility of a badger but even he’s heard of Imagine. I never ever thought I’d hear him sing it, and it was strangely moving. If he hadn’t been there it would’ve been almost unbearable. The audience were expected to join in with the last song – which was…..


    I’m going to let Readers guess the other seven songs – assuming you didn’t hear it on Radio 3 or read any reviews this morning. (or yesterday morning) Points will be awarded.

    We finished with Eric Coates again and the The Dam Busters which is a fine piece of music, but as I said to my pal Simon “Ah World War Two – that was my favourite war”.

    It was a bit like that. So bloody British. So very cuddly and snobbish and cute and Empire mug and spoon.

    But I was SO proud of my Dad, with my brother and two best mates watching this extraordinary spectacle in what is a quite astounding concert hall. I’d been there before many times, but this was quite amazing.

    Thanks for reading, and enjoy guessing the songs !

  2. Oh yeah and how come when I added the photo the text disappeared ? I thought I’d lose it, so I had copied it first, which is why it appears in the Comments section. Grrrrr

  3. That sounds like a lovely evening. I so miss my own dad. Incidentally the only one in the nuclear family with a voice.

    I’m afraid that as a non-Brit and out of that loop i can’t attempt a guess on the songs….

    I did try to take a look on the tube of you but found nothing there. However, BBC has some on iPlayer here


    From some of the comments on another page it seems that the Huddersfield Choral was the high point.

  4. Thanks for that Magicman, the good bits sound brilliant, and the bad bits at least predictable. I shall look up the concert. I’ve always thought that “Dance Of The Knights” should be paired up in a concert with “Dance At The Gym” from West Side Story, as they take place at the equivalent plot points, and are both stirring, rhythmic and suitably dramatic, fantastic writing.

    As for guessing those songs, I feel I should be able to from listening to the programme a fair bit, and (a bit like our Marconium) knowing that some fairly well-known artists will emerge as the most ‘listed’ from a huge diversity of music. But I’m feeling a bit stumped. You’ve mentioned plenty of The Beatles already, so let’s try:

    The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset
    Stevie Wonder – You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
    Derek and the Dominoes – Layla
    Gerry and the Pacemakers – You’ll Never Walk Alone
    Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
    The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter (totally topical for DID)
    David Bowie – Space Oddity

  5. Magic: Terrific piece, beautifully written, I was with you all the way. I’ve never been to the Albert Hall but I’d love to go and a Prom concert would be wonderful, particularly this one. I’d put up with the ‘bad’ bits without complaint. Thanks for that and having your dad there made it extra special.

  6. A very proud moment for you and your family.

    Now I knew about Sleepy Lagoon and the Bognor connection. Friends of mine live in Eric Coates’ old house, and a very nice house it is too!

    I’ve never listened to DID but I imagine some classical pieces would feature on the list? Vaughan Williams? Elgar?

  7. Well done Mr Magic Sr.

    Pretty special to attend an occasion featuring a parent – reminds you of all the times they supported you. Cheers for posting.

  8. That must’ve been a great evening seeing your Dad up there – wouldn’t be likely to happen to me as mine is tone deaf!

    I had a think about the list and came up with this lot which, considering I’ve only listened for the last 25 years are probably completely wide of the mark.

    When I’m Cleaning Windows / George F
    We’ll Meet Again / Vera L
    My Way / Francis S
    Rock Around The Clock / Bill H
    Yesterday / The Fabs
    4 Seasons / Vivaldi

    • llamalpaca you score 1 point for Frank Sinatra’s My Way, which we were all asked to join in on. There are no more Fabs on the list, and no more classical. Just popular tunes. Good guesses, but I’m still a lookin for six more. Thanks for playing !!

  9. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
    Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
    Bob Dylan – Lay Lady Lay
    Beach Boys – Good Vibrations, would’ve been the tingle moment if they’d found a Theramin to go with their lead cello ?

    Do any of our unsuccessful guesses feature the correct artist with the wrong song ?

    • Nil pwan Daddypig – and No – you have not guessed a correct artist yet… Clue of sorts – you have to imagine the age of the show and of the participants to some degree, DID has been going for 70 years. Some people choose “pop music” but you need to dig deeper.
      Big Clue – two of the top eight are French songs !!

  10. After that Jacqueline Dupre interview, they really needed a passionate rendering of the Elgar. Her recording is a thing of wonder.

    Ella Fitzgerald – Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.

    • Yes, we’re spoiled by that, once someone puts their mark on a piece you have to feel for everyone who comes after, but my point about Beatles’ covers stands even taller in that respect…

  11. Brilliant review and I’m very proud of your dad for getting my adopted town’s name in lights. As for DID, I don’t listen to it but here’s a guess at the 6:

    Edith Piaf – Je ne regrette rien
    Kathleen Ferrier – Blow the Wind Southerly
    Bing Crosby – Don’t Fence Me In
    Shirley Bassey – Diamonds are Forever
    Perry Como – Castles in the Air
    Can’t think of anything else French

  12. I must’ve used up my quota of guesses by now… We seem to be triangulating pre-punk Festive 50s, popular funeral songs and favourite love songs without getting to the stranded on a desert island songs.
    Louis Armstrong – What A Wonderful World
    Frank Sinatra – Fly Me To The Moon
    Elvis Presley – Heartbreak Hotel
    Charles Aznavour – Yesterday When I Was Young / She

    Just off to take my calming medication now…

  13. Nice piece magicman, glad you enjoyed the evening and it must have been an great experience to hear your dad singing at the R.A.H.

    Not too sure about the rest of the list, but seeing how most of the guests were probably English and of a classical bent, I would guess that “Land of Hope and Glory” was in there somewhere.

  14. I would guess that even if there were no more Beatles songs, John Lennon’s Imagine or possibly Woman would feature.
    We’ve had on Sinatra song and Bing’s biggest hit was a Christmas song which wouldn’t go down well on a desert island. How about both of then on Did You Evah?
    I would think that there must be a novelty song in there somewhere, maybe Right Said Fred or The Laughing Policeman.

    Others that come to mind:

    Que Sera Sera by Doris Day
    Over The Rainbow by Judy Garland

    And, as above, many congratulations to your dad.

  15. If they’re not pop and it’s my generation how about Claire de Lune, that’s French plus Ode to Joy and does Jerusalem count?

  16. Wonderful work my RR posse – points go to Alimunday Pairubu and bluepeter for Piaf’s classic Je Ne Regrette Rien which was my one tingle moment (when those horns start playing the intro…)
    And a further point to severin for Over The Rainbow, written by Harold Arlen but you all knew that.
    Daddypig now on two points I believe for What A Wonderful World (written by Bob Thiele (as “George Douglas”) and George David Weiss) and sung on the night by Bryn Terfel. Hmmm.
    So to recap
    So far
    We have : Desert Island Discs top 8 songs as requested by guests (!) :

    These five :::

    Over The Rainbow
    Je Ne Regrette Rien
    What A Wonderful World
    My Way

    Three more ‘outstanding 20th C songs’ to come…

    one is English upper class semi-music hall
    one is English working class semi music-hall
    one is french

  17. Has anyone said la vie en rose for the french? and working class music hall, not underneath the arches surely? I’ve got it on my ipod.

    • Anthony you’re on fire – yes and yes. The one remaining song is Noel Coward’s Mad Dogs And Englishmen….
      Thanks for playing everyone – whether you like ’em or not you gotta admit they’re all classics ! Enduring through the generations, and generally, optimistic, defiant, positive.
      As you’d expect.
      I may start a Desert Island Discs thread now…

  18. Final List then of Desert Island Favourites (as chosen by distinguished guests, ie not me) :

    Mad Dogs & Englishmen
    Over The Rainbow
    La Vie En Rose
    Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (the most -picked song on DID)
    What A Wonderful World
    Underneath The Arches (about Derby (!))
    My Way

  19. During WW2 Flanagon & Allan’s Underneath the arches was very popular, some years ago I did a program about the anniversary of the Battle of Britain in which I used a lot of the music of the period, consequently I’ve still got a lot on my iTunes. Would never have thought it a DID favorite though without the tips.

  20. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but
    certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

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