Mercury Music: Your Friday playlist with... Councillor John Crockford-Hawley

PUBLISHED: 16:00 28 July 2017

John Crockford-Hawley.

John Crockford-Hawley.


Our series of asking Weston-super-Mare figures to name their top 10 favourite pieces of music continues this week, with councillor and local historian John Crockford-Hawley sharing his ideal playlist. Imagine this as Desert Island Discs, only based on Steep Holm Island. Here are Cllr Crockford-Hawley’s picks...

Edith Piaf – Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.

I’m unashamedly pro-European: Two of my closest friends have been French and Greek and I’ve spent many happy holidays sniffing out auberges and tavernas, sampling village wines then falling into post-prandial slumber. So what could be more French that Edith Piaff singing Non, je ne regrette rien?

Mikis Theodorakis – Zorba’s Dance.

Or more Greek than Mikis Theodorakis O Zorbas and the other dance inducing exuberances of traditional bouzouki and syrtaki musicians?

Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending.

But I also love my home country and what could sound more English than Ralph Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending? It was first performed in Shirehampton Hall Bristol in 1920. More recently the 15-year old Julia Hwang played the same venue and to the original score - just violin and piano. Well done BBC for sponsoring it. Just close your eyes and listen to those larks.

Louis Armstrong – When The Saints Go Marching In.

I wish I’d been a smoker who’d spent evenings propping up a bar in some louche club listening to jazz and extemporising on the ivories. Dream on boy – impossible: I’ve never smoked, gave up piano lessons as a teenager, and as for louche bars – that’s my secret! Louis Armstrong’s When the saints go marching in would do nicely - and I’ll have a large dry martini please.

Handel – Zadok The Priest (performed by Westminster Abbey and Chapel Royal choirs).

I was a boy chorister and have never failed to be moved by church music, but find modern ‘worship songs’ linguistically and musically banal, and thoroughly forgettable, so a touch of quality will come from the choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal singing Handel’s coronation anthem Zadok the Priest.

Donitzetti – Eccola from Lucia di Lammermoor.

In 1970 I went to my first opera – Aida in Rome and was hooked. A couple of weeks ago I saw Covent Garden’s live streaming of Otello at the Odeon; intrigue, plotting, back-stabbing and stubbornness - politics is such fun. Years ago I queued for hours at the Royal Opera House for a cheap carpet ‘seat’ to hear Joan Sutherland’s last performance in Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ and then took 15 of my Wyvern pupils to the Bristol Hippodrome for the same opera (minus Dame Joan). So let’s hear the mad scene from Lucia di Lammermoor.

Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger (performed by the Lipinski brothers).

I loathe amplified off-key seafront karaoke, particularly when there’s so much real talent in Weston. If you can’t sing no amount of lager will help. Chill out and listen to a quality local band like the Lipinski Brothers singing Oasis’ Don’t look back in anger from their Grand Pier performance in July 2012.

Mozart – Sonata In C Major K.330 (performed by Gabriela Montero).

IT has its place but treble the number of music teachers and we’ll help create a more humane world. Mozart was a talented kid with a pushy dad but how many potential Mozarts slouch undiscovered in today’s austerity ridden tick-box dominated schools? For pursuit of perfection just listen to Gabriela Montero playing the first movement of Mozart’s Sonata in C major K.330 from the 2016 Proms.

Mendelssohn – Prelude & Fugue In E Minor (performed by Daniel Roth).

The pipe organ is king of all instruments and the huge Cavaillé-Coll Grand-orgue in St Sulpice Paris takes some beating. Daniel Roth plays Mendelssohn’s Prelude & Fugue in E minor in a magnificent 2016 recording. Hands feet and borrowed feet summon thunder. Not for the feint-hearted!

Simon And Garfunkel – Mrs Robinson.

The Mercury’s Sarah Robinson invited me play this Desert Island Discs game so to her namesake goes my final choice: Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson, written in 1968 – the year I started teaching. Featuring in ‘The Graduate’ it’s the story of an older woman seducing the young Dustin Hoffman: Botox versus beauty where youthful idealism itself eventually turns old and ugly.


Alex Lipinski * James Willis-Boden * John Penrose * Anna Southwell. * Nutty Noah * Hazy Days festival. * Mark Thompson.

COMING NEXT WEEK: George Sampson, ahead of a performance of Our House at The Playhouse.

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