NBT Orchestra Leader remembers celebrated Leeds-born composer, Angela Morley

January 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm (Artist's News, Music)

Celebrated Leeds-born composer Angela Morley died on 15 January in Arizona where she lived.

Angela was one of the top composers and arrangers of film and light music in the world.
Born in Leeds (as Wally Stott) Angela grew up on Kirkstall Road (not far from NBT’s West Park base), where her father had a jeweller’s shop. Her early musical activities were as a saxophonist, becoming a member of Geraldo’s Band in 1944. However, she soon decided to concentrate on composition and arranging and became Musical Director of Phillips Records, writing and conducting for albums by many famous UK singers, as well as American artists including Rosemary Clooney and Mel Tormé. She also wrote the theme and incidental music for the BBC comedy series Hancock’s Half Hour and for The Goon Show.

During the 60s she wrote the scores for a number of films, including Watership Down, When Eight Bells Toll and The Slipper and the Rose (the last of which was nominated for an Academy Award). On moving to California in the 70s she wrote music for many TV series including Dallas, Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Cagney and Lacey. A close relationship with famous film composer John Williams developed, with Angela working on the scores for many of his blockbuster movies such as Star Wars, Superman, ET and Schindler’s List.

Geoff Allan, NBT’s Orchestra Leader, was recently particularly honoured to be the dedicatee of her recent piece for violin and orchestra, “Rêverie”.

Geoff said: “I first contacted Angela Morley about 5 years ago, when I wrote her a fan letter. I had admired her music for so long that I wanted to tell her how I felt. We struck up a correspondence and I was soon encouraging her to write something for me to play. We met the following year, and I found her to be as delightful and interesting a person as her music suggests.

“Recently she composed a piece called “Rêverie” for violin and string orchestra. She asked me to record it for her with the Royal Ballet Sinfonia. It is a really beautiful piece and I am truly honoured that she dedicated it to me.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of Angela’s death. This is a great loss to the world of light music. Angela was without question one of the supreme practitioners of that art, alongside Robert Farnon, and will be greatly missed.”

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