Happy birthday to a legendary recording producer

That photo shows a 1970 Kingsway Hall session for the EMI recording of Vaughan Williams' The Pilgrim's Progress. From left to right are Ursula Vaughan Williams, Christopher Bishop (producer), Sir Adrian Boult, John Noble, Ian Partridge, Gloria Jennings, Christopher Parker (balance engineer), John Alldis (chorus master), Sheila Armstrong and Marie Hayward. During his career at EMI Christopher Bishop produced legendary recordings with Sir John Barbirolli, André Previn, Sir David Willcocks, David Munrow, Carlo Maria Giulini, Sir Adrian Boult and many others. Christopher was born on April 1st 1931; he is enjoying a well-earned retirement in rural Suffolk not far from Aldeburgh, and I am sure readers will join me in wishing him a very happy birthday. It is a scandal that in an age when so many minor media celebrities receive recognition with State honours that Christopher Bishop's contribution to British and indeed global culture has never been recognised with a suitable honour. You can hear him talking to me about David Munrow and much else here, or read an interview transcript here. Elsewhere he contributes a charming vignette of John Cage in Scotland.

Photo is (c) EMI/G. Macdominic. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.


JVaughan said…
Unless something has changed since 2016, I am _GLAD_ that you are still here!

I was trying to find Mr. Bishop to possibly-ask him, out of curiosity, about the use of antiphonal violins in the Willcocks recording of Howells' _Hymnus_ _Paradisi_ since, apart from one or two other instances, in Handel, he usually-followed modern seating, with all violins on the left. My guess would be that Howells, who, of course, attended the sessions, requested this, unless the then-future Sir David's musicianship led to it. I _DO_ think it _WORKS_! Unless you have written a post about this which I have not yet encountered, I nonetheless feel _CERTAIN_ that you know of yesterday having been the centenary of Sir David's birth! As I might have told you, I knew him to a degree for some years, and, hoping it is not too self-serving, may have been one of the last foreigners at least who visited him prior to his death, and had the privilege of attending his memorial in King's College Chapel. I also met Mr. Bishop once here in Washington when he was managing the Philharmonia, and had one telephone conversation with him as well. And, returning to King's, I was in the Chapel on 28 June of this year for Sir Stephen's farewell, and, who knows, I could have been at least one of his last foreign visitors as well. Mr. Hyde _CERTAINLY_ had much on his proverbial plate at this year's Festival, and he seems to have passed with _FLYING_ colours!

On another mutually-interested tack, and though you could have covered this here, did you attend the RNCM's latest production of _The_ _Pilgrim's_ _Progress_ in April of this year? I attended on the evening when pyrotechnic smoke forced evacuation of the building just prior to the interval, and felt it the best-sung performance of the three I have attended live, though _MUCH_-regret what I was told about the revisionist staging! The following evening I attended the revival of Parry's _Judith_ in the Festival Hall, and, all continuing well, look forward to the recording of this in March of this coming year! And by the bye, and despite a small reservation or more, my recording of the year for 2019 _HAS_ to be Prof. Butt's of Handel's _Samson_, a first-rate recording of which I have been awaiting for _YEARS_!

Hoping that this indeed continues to find you _WELL_, and with yet again _MANY_ renewed thanks and best wishes for this impending New Year of 2020,

J. V.

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