On 24 September 2014, on the occasion of Roderick Williams’ inauguration as the Club’s President, a quiet event took place in the green room behind the Forum stage. Our Vice President (then Chairman) Joseph Brand presented Roddy with a published copy of Joe’s own composition, the song Night, setting a poem by Robert Southey. On 26 February 2017, Roddy repaid the compliment with a performance, with Iain Burnside, of that song in front of a lucky group of audience members who had stayed behind after his Schubert recital.
Joe was quite overwhelmed at hearing his song. He thought it was a wonderful performance, never having heard it performed before (let alone by such distinguished artists) and Joe received many congratulations.
Night was published in 1967. Joe had sent a few manuscripts to a number of publishers, but only the firm Ricordi showed any interest – which really pleased him as they were by far the most distinguished of the publishers, being that of Verdi and Puccini among others. The music was published in the firm’s distinctive blue and white covers, but is now out of print; Ricordi in the UK is now part of the Novello organisation, but the song is still available to special order. Joe adds, ‘In those days music was still written by hand (no computers to solve your problems!) and, because it was hard to get further interest from publishers, I eventually gave up composing, realising I wasn’t a ‘natural’. But I’ve been writing professionally on music since 1961 – which comes more naturally to me!’
As far as Joe knows, the song’s first performance was at the Wigmore Hall, London, on 12 September 1975 by John Perrin (a tenor in the Sadler’s Wells chorus) with Joe himself as accompanist – his only public appearance at the Wigmore (in while tie and tails!). It was a well-attended evening and the ticket prices ranged from 50p to £1.50. Night was well-received, but Joe has no knowledge of any public performances since. So history was made in Malvern last week!