Thomas Hyde tells us about his latest comic creation for BBCNOW
‘…quite frankly I feel about as comfortable as a lame turkey sat on a pile of Paxo listening to Christmas carols’
It was with these words that Les Dawson began hosting his first edition of the BBC quiz show Blankety Blank in 1984. And I too feel like that turkey this evening, as I wonder whether I was wise to try to resurrect that most peculiar of neglected orchestral genres, the comedy overture. I first had the idea of doing so when staying on the Italian island of Ischia, one-time home of Sir William Walton. He wrote what is perhaps the greatest of British comedy overtures, Scapino in 1940. It has all the essential ingredients: jauntiness, orchestral dazzle and a big tune. As I attempted to compose the central tune of my overture I set myself the task of trying to write a tune that very obviously hit ‘wrong notes’. At that point, I realised the work would be a celebration to the great comedian Les Dawson who died twenty-five years ago this year and whose piano playing was a masterclass in how to hit the ‘correct’ wrong note to get the most laughs.
Les at Leisure is composed for orchestra with the odd piece of unusual percussion. It is dedicated to the television producer Barrie Gavin, whose documentaries on composers have enthralled and excited me for years.
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales concert at the Lichfield Festival is first year of a new 3-year Festival residency
Friday 13 July, 7pm