THIS IS MY SONG
I dedicate this collection of songs to my Mother and Father, who gave me my love of music and the opportunity to study it and to develop my talent. Also, I make this a tribute to my teacher, Tania, who trained my voice, and taught me how to make the most of the gift with which I was blessed.
The three of us together in 1958.
I need to begin at the beginning of this, my musical story, so I will give you a glimpse into the background.
I was born in February 1939 into a musical family. My Mother's family came from Cornwall, UK, and Bavaria, Germany. My Father was born in Yorkshire, England, but his ancestors were probably Welsh.
My Mother was a fine contralto, and her Cornish family were all singers. My Father's family were also singers and musicians of some note, (no pun intended!) so I guess I didn't have much of a chance of escaping the 'Music Gene'!
Dad had once been Champion Bass Baritone in an Eisteddfod in Brisbane, and he had always been active in Choirs - and it was during his time with the Curlew Male Choir that he was given the position of Deputy Conductor. His life as a Choral Conductor took off from there.
I'm not sure of the order of things, but I think all this happened when he returned from service in the 3rd Field Ambulance, 1st AIF, in 1919. He had served as a Stretcher Bearer from 1915 through to the end of WW1. He didn't talk a lot about it, but I knew he'd been through some terrible things. It wasn't until I joined the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps, CMF, in 1957 that he began to open up and share his memories with me. This happened after he learned that other WW1 and WW2 veterans had discussed their experiences with me, the way soldiers often do with those caring for them.
Dad, taken during WW1
Dad met Mum when he returned from the war, and his first meeting with her, I believe, was after hearing her singing 'THE HOLY CITY' during a Church Service.
They were married in 1929.
He became the Choirmaster of two Church Choirs during the next 10 years, and had several wins in Choral Competitions.
He was Choirmaster of a Methodist Church Choir when I was born, and remained so for several years after.
This was taken in 1941
The Choir was very busy, not only with Church activities and the usual weekly Choir Practice night, but also with Eisteddfod competitions throughout the year. Also, Dad had put together a Mixed Voice Quartette, and a Male Voice Quartette, and these groups used to practice at our home, around our piano, so I lived and breathed music from the time I was born.
I am told that I would sit on the piano stool from the age of 4, and pick out, with one finger, the melodies I'd heard. But I did not have any formal music lessons until I was 8 years old. (I think my Parents thought they'd better get me to a proper teacher as I was, by then, playing the piano 'by ear', with both hands and using correct harmonies!)
I showed no sign of having anything much of a singing voice. In fact, there is an amusing story of the Conductor of the Brisbane Eisteddfod Junior Choir coming to my school in search of new talent for his famous Choir. He lined us up and got us to sing a line from a song. I'll never forget that day! He came to me and listened, then he asked me my name.
I told him, and he raised his eyebrows and asked, "You're not the daughter of Harold Plowes, the Choral Conductor?"
I nodded proudly, and then was blown away by his response. He shook his head and exclaimed:
"Well, you certainly DON'T take after him!"
Needless to say, I was NOT accepted for the Brisbane Eisteddfod Junior Choir!
By the age of 15 it became obvious that I DID have a voice, but it was what I would now describle as 'small and sweet', but nothing to get excited about.
I began by singing in my Dad's Choir at age 15 then, at 16, I joined the Brisbane Eisteddfod Senior Choir to which my Dad and his Brother (a beautiful tenor) belonged, and in which Dad held the position of Deputy Conductor.
That same year, I auditioned with a well respected Russian singer who had settled in Brisbane and was taking pupils. She was a beautiful looking woman with a magnificent Lyric Soprano voice. I'd heard her singing in concerts in our City Hall's main concert hall. (A stage upon which, one distant day, I would also stand to perform.)
To my delight, she agreed to train my voice in which she saw promise. If I worked hard, I could be a good singer, a 'Light Soprano'. Perhaps, one day, I might even be worthy of being called a Lyric Soprano, as she was.
So I knuckled down and practiced scales and exercies for what seemed months. I'm sure it was three months before I was given my very first song to learn, and it was a simple lullaby.
In 1962 my Parents and I took a Cruise ship to the UK and I competed in the Talent Night competition, singing 'With a Song In My Heart' - and I won!
CLICK ON PAUSE BUTTON OF FIRST TUNE, THEN CLICK ON THE ARROW OF THE SECOND TUNE TO HEAR NEXT SONG.
I WISH TO ADVISE THAT THE RECORDINGS USED HERE WERE MADE ON A SIMPLE CASSETTE RECORDER/PLAYER, SO THE QUALITY IS NOT ALWAYS GOOD. I MADE THESE RECORDINGS FOR PRACTICE PURPOSES AND HAD NEVER INTENDED THEM TO BE HEARD BY THE PUBLIC. THEY ARE ALL I HAVE TO REMEMBER MY SINGING YEARS, SO AT THE REQUEST OF A FRIEND, I AM NOW PRESENTING THEM HERE FOR OTHERS WHO MIGHT ENJOY THEM.
THEY INCLUDE SOME OF MY OWN COMPOSITIONS (FIRST TUNE, AND OTHERS WILL BE NAMED AS THEY ARE PRESENTED.)
THE FIRST TUNE YOU'VE BEEN LISTENING TO IS CALLED 'I'LL NEVER DREAM AGAIN' AND WAS WRITTEN AROUND 1969.
It was 1979 before I began to have real success in competitions, and it all seemed to come together for me at my Parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration, when I sang for them the song which had been sung at the Church on their Wedding Day. I sang 'Because'.
WHEN PREVIOUS SONG IS FINISHED, CLICK ON THE ARROW BELOW.
AFTER PREVIOUS SONG, CLICK ON THE ARROW BELOW.
In the early 1980's I became very involved in saving Whales and other animal issues. I wrote songs and sung them at public demonstrations. These are from 1980 - 82. HUMPBACK WHALES, RIDE WITH THE WIND and THE DEATH TRAIN. In the last selection, the tune 500 MILES has my own words, but the LITTLE CALF SONG has my own words and music. (There is a reason for this song being put to a waltz tune. It is to make the words all the more poignant - and stressing the tragedy of the situation in which these innocent creatures were cruelly placed.)
AS BEFORE, CLICK ON ARROW AFTER EACH FINISHES.
In 1965 I recorded two duets with my Father, who was then aged 71. They are LOVE'S OLD SWEET SONG and the Mendelssohn song, I WOULD THAT MY LOVE.
I also did some experimenting in singing duets with myself! It was fun! The last two are examples, PANIS ANGELICUS and DRINK TO ME ONLY.
CONTINUED ON PAGE TWO
ALL CONTENTS COPYRIGHT TO A A Plowes, 2010
Receiving a prize from a member of Parliament. (The lovely lady at the table is my teacher. Madame Hitrina.)
Singing a COSSACK LULLABY (in Russian)