Musical Notes - Melanie Dawson-Dew

What is the earliest memory of music in your life? It's almost impossible to isolate one memory but here are a few of the first. At my lovely primary school in Harrow we of course sang hymns at our daily assemblies and I only have to hear Hills of the North Rejoice and I'm back on that stage at Roxbourne Primary School. I was also lucky enough to be one of those children taken to the Ernest Read concerts for children at the Royal Festival Hall on Saturday mornings - how fabulous was that.

My parents always played music at home. Both loved classical, Mozart and Bach in particular but my dad also introduced me to Glenn Campbell, Bobbie Gentry and Herb Albert and his Tijuana Brass. My dad was just so cool.

What was your first public performance of music/drama or both? Once again a memory from Roxbourne Primary School; in our class which was probably called ‘Music and Movement’ we did a performance to Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. I think we were pretending to be trolls and had to dance/stomp to this tremendous piece of music. We had to get quicker and quicker as the music got faster and faster. I have a vague recollection of strips of foil being stapled to our clothes, obviously the clothing of trolls!

Who is your favourite composer/songwriter and why? How can anyone answer this question with a one person answer? As a teenager I worshipped Elton John. My dad came from Pinner as did Elton John so there was already a link by location. I so admired Elton John's compositions and his obvious skill as a pianist. His early work remains my very favourite - think Madman Across the Water, Tumbleweed Connection, or anything from Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy.

As far as classical music is concerned I adore English Song; Finzi, Butterworth, Vaughan Williams, Gurney. I remember going to hear Roderick Williams perform at the London English Song Festival. He was singing Vaughan Williams' Songs of Travel. The lady in front of me turned round at one point and tears were coursing down her face and I completely understood because the haunting beauty of these songs is so very moving.

What composition/piece/song would you introduce to a friend to brighten their day? The exuberance of West Gallery Quire music always brings a smile to my face. Lindsay [Melanie’s husband] and I sing with The Chiltern West Gallery Quire and we always start our rehearsals with Gibraltar. It is such a rousing and wonderful piece of music. This link to a rendition of Gibraltar can't help but bring a smile to your face. The composer of the music W.J.White was an early to mid-19th century composer of church music from St Alban's.

Please tell us a favourite saying/quote/joke with a musical theme. “I used # hashtags before they were cool” Mozart