Cyril Watters
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Memories of Cyril

From Brian Reynolds in 2010

Cyril with Robert Farnon in the 60's (RFS)“I know that he did a lot of work for Louis Voss, whom he found particularly co-operative, as he often suggested the instrumentations required at various points during pieces, which made your father's job easier. Because most orchestras had their own 'sound', Cyril had to be familiar with their styles. He also did a lot of work with Arthur Anton and at one time, shared an office with Ronnie Munro.  Perhaps rather strangely, he did a lot of work for Troise and his Banjoliers and I remember him telling me that Pasquale Troise gave him lessons in arranging for banjos.

.... and on Major Terry Kenny; “I recall that he once asked Cyril to conduct the overture at a concert, but Cyril declined, as he was not prepared to conduct in public, something that he had not studied and rehearsed. Indeed, I recall him telling me that he was very nervous on his broadcasts; not that he had anything to worry about, as his players consisted of only the top session players, several of whom (Anton, Reg Leopold, for example), were conductors themselves.”

 “I remember Cyril telling me that he was not very happy with the last broadcast because the BBC failed to provide an electric organ. Apparently the programme was recorded on a Sunday morning when few useful people were around, and organist William Davies and pianist Robert Docker spent half the rehearsal time going round the studios trying to find an organ! In the end, the programme had to be recorded with two pianos. Cyril felt that this lost him a lot of tone colour - but personally, I thought it sounded fine.”

I have composed quite a few pieces of light music for military band  and most of these were published by a company called 'Fionmace' which was run by the then Director of Music of the Band of the Life Guards, the late Major Tony Richards. I introduced him to Cyril, and he was immediately interested in his work. This resulted in your father writing several pieces for military band - which were usually 'premiered' on St. James's Park bandstand, in the presence of the composer! Major Richards even commissioned Cyril to do a work for massed harps (!) for a military tattoo. I believe that this was commercially recorded, but I have never heard it.  I was asked to compose a pastoral type of piece for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.  Cyril was obviously the man to arrange it, and I must say that he did a wonderful job - it was played on radio and television as well as being commercially recorded. It is still occasionally played today and I had the pleasure of conducting it at a concert last year. I made the mistake of composing a military march, which Cyril arranged for me. I was (and still am) very happy with it, but it it got a mixed reception from bands, and Major Richards turned it down flat! When I told Cyril, he was very angry, "This is the first time in my life that my work has been rejected!" he exclaimed. I had to reassure him that it wasn't his arrangement that was being rejected; it was simply that the publisher didn't like the piece! Maybe I was pushing my luck calling it 'Marching Orders'!  Anyway, the Royal Artillery band made an excellent private recording for me.

"Cyril's best-known composition is 'The Willow Waltz' - a beautiful light orchestral piece. However, I have a recording of it played by Syd Dean and his Band, in the style of Glenn Miller. Cyril didn't like dance bands very much, but I bet he would have liked this treatment which does the piece great justice."

Brian Reynolds remembers 1965 “Orchestra Leader Cyril Watters, who joined the show (Music While You Work) in 1965, told me that he recorded his shows in two halves, the ensemble taking a 20-minute break half way through the recording. This became standard practice in later years.

Also Brian Reynolds talking about Louis Voss and his repertoire “Most of the repertoire was specially arranged by publishers’ ‘house arrangers’ who, at that time included Ernest Tomlinson and Cyril Watters. I recall Cyril telling me how helpful Voss was with the arrangements – the scores being clearly marked with his instructions as to which instruments were to be used in each passage”.