with full supporting programme
ROMSEY ABBEY 27th FEBRUARY 1982 produced by JOHN PADDY BROWNE
JOHN PADDY BROWNE writes If Mary O'Hara enjoys a worldwide popularity today, it is because the world is ready for, and badly in need of, a panacea for its many ills. For Mary O'Hara is both an anachronism and a perfect antidote in the world of popular entertainment, a field so cluttered with one-day wonders, instant successes and failures that one can only regard a figure of enduring appeal as a phenomenon. There is a handful of such phenomenona in this world of popular song, but even among these Mary O'Hara is Mary O'Hara 1956 unique, for her gifts are acclaimed on a number of levels and in a number of circles. When she first appeared, as a young recording artist in the 1950s, she was hailed as the saviour of classic folksong. The celebrated American Joan Baez has told us that Mary O'Hara was her earliest model and inspiration. Miss O'Hara's first records, still sought after and highly prized by collectors, remain unchallenged masterpieces of their kind. They reveal a voice of unrivalled beauty, a skill and discretion far in advance of the young singer's years, and a harp accompaniment of flawless dexterity. It appeared that, from her first sung note, she was already in a state of musical perfection. What the passage of time has done to Mary O'Hara is simply to consolidate that sense of perfection she so amply imparted to her audience, and added to that is a maturity of voice and interpretation which are qualities that cannot be forced, but which come to rest in an artist who has used her gifts with intelligence and wisdom. Today Mary O'Hara sings a much wider repertoire, but to each song she performs, however humble a piece of music it may be, she brings all her skills, so that often the song actually sounds betterthan it really is. The audience for popular music has,through Mary O'Hara s enormous world-wide popularity, vindicated the theory that good songs well sung are still sought after, and it is to the lasting credit of the media radio and television and records that they have recognised in Mary O'Hara a unique artist who embodies qualities we barely expected ever to see or hear again on the popular stage.
RECORDS BY MARY O'HARA Songs of Erin (1957) Decca/Beltona LBE13 Love Songs of Ireland (1958) Decca/Beltona LBE20 Songs of Ireland (1958) Tradition, USA, TLP1024 Reissued, minus two tracks, by Decca/Emerald, UK MLD22 Mary O'Hara's Ireland (1973) Decca/Emerald GES1095 Mary O'Hara's Scotland (1974) Decca/Emerald GES1116 Monday, Tuesday, and other children's songs (1977) Decca/Emerald GES1167 At the Royal Festival Hall (1977) Chrysalis CHR1159 Music Speaks Louder than Words (1978) Chrysalis CHR1194 FOCUS on Mary O'Hara (double album) (1978) Decca FOS49-50 In Harmony (1979) Chrysalis CHR1217 The Scent of the Roses (1980) Chrysalis CHR1308 Colours (1981) Images IMG0001
There are a number of 'anthologies' which feature one or more tracks by Miss O'Hara, and several 45rpm discs, as well as several reissues under different covers of the albums listed above, but all of these are too numerous to be able to catalogue here.
Mary O'Hara's autobiography The Scent of the Roses (Michael Joseph, 1980; Fontana paperback, 1981) was the National Book League's No. 1 Best Seller two weeks after its publication.
Stage RAOpS liaison Lighting Publicity Design Front of House
Ken Stott John Mcllwain Mike Brooks Alan Whittaker Diane Hargreaves
Special thanks to Francis Powis of John Coast Management for his co-operation in the production of this concert. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Box Office Roger Shaw, Market Place, Romsey Carpet loaned by Gordon Saunders Special acknowledgements to Canon David Shearlock and the P.C.C. of Romsey Abbey, and to the Editor of the Romsey Advertiser tor continued support. The Mary O'Hara Club exists to circulate information on forthcoming concert tours, public appearances, record releases, etc. by Miss O'Hara. For further details of the Club, please write to Sarah Hook, West Moors, Wimborne, Dorset, BH22 OJD. Records by Miss O'Hara and copies of her autobiography The Scent of the Roses (hardback and paperback) are available from Miss Hook.
Jhe RA0 .D.S.
Theatre Appeal was launched to raise funds with which to purchase and equip a purpose-built theatre and arts centre for the town. In launching the Appeal the Society was, in the words of its President, Lord Romsey, 'facing the greatest challenge in its existence.' The people of Romsey, and further afield, too, have already given generously to this Appeal, and when artists of the international stature of Mary O'Hara can lend their time and reputations to such an appeal, then we can get some measure of the worth of the cause. If you feel that you want to help in some tangible way, please contact Mike Nelson, Clarence House, Winchester Hill, Romsey, or Ken Stott, 58 St Blaize Road, Romsey.
THE OTHER ARTISTS LALLAN The name of the group gives a clue to the music they perform: 'Lallan" - or Lowland dialect - is one of the traditional Scottish song-forms which encompasses both the lyric folksongs and the epic ballads, some of which can take a whole day to sing. We're not promised too many of these tonight! Dave and Jean Mallen and Alex Watt between them play concertina, Northumbrian pipes, flute, guitars and small organ. LALLAN was recently voted 'Best group in the South' by a BBC poll taken among their peers in the folk clubs of the area.
SYLVIA and BILL ROGERS Before his recent ordination to Curate ( incumbent at Chandlers Ford ) Bill Rogers was one of the most popular and accomplished classical guitarists in the south. Not that his increasing reverence has dimmed his musical dexterity, but clerical pressures have severely curtailed his secular activities of late! Sylvia's clear voice is ideally suited to the type of song they choose to sing - a delightful evocation of a bygone age.
WOODFIDLEY is a dance display team who specialise in dances from England, Wales and the Isle of Man. They have an enviable reputation in Europe, and among their notable appearances have been those at The International Folklore Festival held annually at Sidmouth, the Manx Yn Chruinnaght, the Royal Albert Hall Annual Folk Festival, and the Parade of Nations in the Netherlands. Their dances are meticulously researched and performed in authentic forms and movements.
GRAHAM PENNY Every once in a while a local songwriter wins a national reputation, and Graham Penny is the latest in such a line. His song about long-voyage ships returning to port at Southampton is currently being sung by professional singers up and down the country, and his list of self-penned ballads is impressive for its volume and quality. Most of his songs have a local flavour, but they concern themselves with wider emotions than purely parochial ones.
Mary O'Hara concert brochure from her concert at Romsey Abbey on 27th February 1982