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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

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The Glasgow Orpheus Choir


The Glasgow Orpheus Choir that sang in IKWIG (as chorus and with some members appearing at the Ceildhe) has been "reborn" as The Glasgow Phoenix Choir in the years since the film was made.

Neal found a web site at about the Orpheus Choir on the Phoenix Choir's website. So I emailed them:

Subject: Glasgow Orpheus Choir
To: librarian@phoenixchoir.org

Hello,

I run the Powell and Pressburger Appreciation Society and I'm
trying to find out what I can about the Glasgow Orpheus Choir
who helped with their films The Edge of the World (1937) and
I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)

They provided the chorus for The Edge of the World (1937) and
Lambert Williamson was listed as the conductor & orchestrator.

But for I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) some of them appeared on
screen in the Ceildhe and were led (on screen) by Finlay Currie
who was an ex choirmaster & an old song & dance performer.

Do you have any information on the work they did in these films?
It would be nice if we could identify the songs properly and
possibly identify some of the members of the choir who appeared
on screen.

My main trouble is that, being English, I have great trouble
making out the words of some of the songs, especially trying to
unwind the counterpoint of that Macabee or Macfee song.

One of our members works at the British Library and has checked in
"Orpheus With His Lute". There's a lovely story about the
choir being appreciated by the orchestra when they recorded for
The Edge of the World (1937) but nothing about I Know Where
I'm Going! (1945)

We suspect that it was Boyd Steven who sang the beautifully
haunting solo at the Ceildhe but that's only a suspicion.

Hoping you can help

    Steve Crook

Powell and Pressburger Appreciation Society
http://www.Powell-Pressburger.org
http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/PnP

To which I received this reply & responded thusly
>From: "John Blue @ Events Scotland" <eventsco@globalnet.co.uk>
>
>Hi Steve - my name is John Blue and I am the Business Manager of the
>Glasgow Phoenix Choir.  I am a former orchestral musician and played
>in the Royal Scottish national orchestra for a good number of years
>and now run a charity fundraising and event management company of
>which the choir is one of my clients.  Your email was forwarded to me
>from Andy Green our webmaster for the Phoenix.
>

Hello John,
Thanks for answering. Quite a few possible leads in here.

>
>Information relating to the Orpheus gets harder to obtain with age
>though we still have two members who sang in the Orpheus as girls.
>I very much doubt if they have the information you require but I will
>put your note on the notice board and see what happens.
>

Lovely, thanks.

In fact if those two "girls" were with the Orpheus when they did
the films I would like to see what they remember of it - if they're
willing of course.

>
>Directly myself I have a tenuous contact through a close friend with
>the film 'I know where I'm Going' - my friend Louise Mitchell is the
>Director of Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, her father was well known in
>music circles in London as he had one of the recognised record
>shops..........  I was in Mull in September last year staying in
>another friends cottage 3 door along from the Western Isles Hotel
>where some of the film was made......
>

The Criterion DVD of the film includes a documentary about a lady
from New York, Nancy Franklin, who was so impressed by the film she
went to Mull for a few months. She's been back many times and
many others have done the "IKWIG trail" as well.

For myself I haven't been up that way for many a long year. I did
some sailing and canoeing around the islands - but that's when I was
young & fit.

The documentary on the DVD is very good but it's an American
DVD so probably has the Region 1 coding.

It includes an interview with Sue Fink (owner of the Western
Isles Hotel when the documentary was made, now running the
Ptarmigan bed & breakfast in Tobermory, and various people
from Mull.


>
>We were watching the film on
>video in the cottage one night when Louise announced that the
>designer/art director was a friend of her fathers and that she used
>to go to his house as a child to visit!
>

That'd be "Uncle" Alfred Junge.
He was the art director on about 10 films for Michael Powell.
They called him "Uncle Alfred" because he was quite a bit older
then the rest of the team that made all those amazing films.

>
>Louise's father is still
>very much alive, living in London aged 80 and may know more -  in
>fact he may even know all about the music!.
>

Well if it would be possible for you to put me in touch with him
please, I'd love to see what he remembers. Alfred Junge is a bit
of an unknown to us. I'm in touch with a lot of the people who
worked on these films (or their descendants) but I don't think
Alfred ever married & I've not heard of any children.

>
>I also have contacts
>with the Mull Gaelic Choir if it helps and my friend Katriona who
>owns the cottage in Mull - her family home ......  is the niece of
>Bobbie McLeod the now deceased musician who would surely have known
>everyone.........
>

Again if you could pass on my details (address & phone number at
the bottom) and if anyone knows anything I'd love to hear from them.

>
>Here in Glasgow Jim Hunter of the BBC has done
>2 superficial documentaries on the Orpheus - he might know something
>but I doubt it.  One of the Roberton family still exists and keeps
>producing "new" recordings from ancient recording - I am sure you
>can find him on the web - if not we can get to him through another
>Roberton's sons widows who we are in contact with and who lives in
>Ledbury in England.
>

Thanks, I'll look them up.

The credited composer for the film was Allan Gray (Josef Zmigrod)
and we're also trying to see if any of his original scores still
exist. There are people interested in re-recording the music
from this and other Powell & Pressburger films, but only if
we can find the film score's manuscript, or enough of it to
do a proper job.

>
>As to the music - our library is on the web site somewhere - use the
>search engine - it will tell you if we still have the music - I
>haven't had time to look myself as yet - if we have got it we can
>get you the words.
>

Lovely thanks. I will explore.

>
>I am sure there will still be some members of the Phoenix who will
>have contacts and memories of what happened.
>
>You don't say where you are - if it helps to telephone and exchange
>information more quickly please do. A direct email for me is
>evenstco@globalnet.co.uk
>

I'm in South London, near Wimbledon where they play a bit of
tennis sometimes :)

But for these films I tend to travel all over these isles of ours.
I spent some time last year climbing the hills of Shropshire
finding the locations they used in Gone to Earth (1950).
I often go down to Canterbury where they made A Canterbury Tale (1944)

It's a fun hobby.

Many thanks for your help. If you can pass my email and/or address
and phone number on to anyone you think might be able to help us.

All the best

    Steve


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