Ronald Binge’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Band – 2. Romance performed by Kyle Mechmet

Live performance on October 19, 2016 at Dillard Center for the Arts in Fort Lauderdale, FL featuring Kyle Mechmet on solo alto saxophone with the Dillard Wind Ensemble conducted by Sheldon McLean

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Born in Derby, Binge was one of the most respected and successful English composers of his generation. His father, a capable pianist, died in 1920 of wounds received during the war, leaving the family in straitened circumstances, without money to pay for Binge to attend music college. Instead, he obtained work as a cinema organist, which enabled him to learn a great deal of light repertoire and to develop his skill as an arranger (the cinema had a small orchestra, for whom he wrote)..

After a stint as an orchestral pianist with the high-calibre light orchestra at Great Yarmouth, he left for London and in 1935 his association with Mantovani began – from this time Binge did all of the Mantovani orchestra’s arrangements, as well as writing much music of his own, some of which was recorded and broadcast. He joined the RAF on the outbreak of the Second World War and took charge of the choir at his station in Blackpool, where Sidney Torch conducted the orchestra. They became lifelong friends.

The war over, Binge earned his living as an arranger and orchestrator for the broadcasting orchestras – in the 1950s, the BBC had eight light orchestras on staff, each with several programmes a week – and scored more than fifty television and feature films. He devised the famous Mantovani “cascading strings” sound in 1951, inspired by the acoustics of large cathedrals, which was shown to greatest effect in the song Charmaine and became an instant success. His own Elizabethan Serenade was hugely popular and so was Sailing By, which for many years played out nightly the close of BBC Radio 2.
Binge was the epitome of the successful light music composer, perhaps the counterpart of the modern day film composer, for whom versatility and fluency of invention were of paramount importance.

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