In March 2017, the musical world came together to mourn the death of Danny Spooner, a man whose passion for expressing culture through music had touched the lives of millions and seen him declared a living national treasure. ACO Artistic Director Richard Tognetti, hearing earlier of his terminal illness, had simply written – in a private note – 'Bless his genius'.
Now the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Tognetti honour this extraordinary musician with a live recording from their collaboration with Spooner in 2007. The recording was made when they toured Australia with fiddler Mike Kerin, bringing to life a range of folk songs: differing in mood, but all sharing ear-catching tunes, characteristic dance rhythms and a marvellous sense of vitality. The concert looked back to the folk music of rural Britain – from where Spooner hails – with the Hebridean 'Call of the Seals' and the northern miners’ tune 'Byker Hill', but also celebrates the rich folk history of Australia, with works by West Australia’s Roy Abbott ('And When They Dance') and Queenslander Bill Scott ('Hey Rain').
Born in London’s East End, Danny Spooner left school at age 13 and began learning British folksongs while working on barges along the Thames and the English south coast. Since arriving in Australia in 1962, his astonishingly vast repertoire of folk music expanded and was performed in folk clubs, festivals and workshops in Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the US. He memorised over 5000 folksongs.
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1. TRADITIONAL (arr. MIKE KERIN) Three Reels: Unknown, Miller’s Reel, Drag Them Round The Bend [2'58]
2. TRADITIONAL (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) Call of the Seals [4'54]
3. TRADITIONAL (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) Byker Hill [2'06]
4. Introduction to the first three works [1'33]
5. ROY ABBOTT (arr. AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA) And When They Dance [3'09]
6. BILL SCOTT (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) Hey Rain [3'31]
7. Introduction to The Hangman’s Reel [1'04]
8. TRADITIONAL (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) The Hangman’s Reel [2'45]
9. TRADITIONAL (arr. RICHARD TOGNETTI) Oh! For Me Grog [4'35]
10. TRADITIONAL (arr. AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA) Jack Orion [4'32]
Richard Tognetti Director and Violin
Danny Spooner Vocals
Mike Kerin Fiddle
Julian Thompson Cello
Australian Chamber Orchestra
Release date: 1 December 2017
Label: ABC Classic
Catalogue number: DIGITAL