Betty Roe – her father was a fishmonger in Shepherd’s Bush – is a distinguished composer (in 2011 she was awarded an MBE) and performer of English song, instrumental music, choral music and musicals She was Director of Music at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art from 1968–78. Her website simply states ‘Musician’.
Recently a society (The Betty Roe Society) was formed to promote the performance of Betty’s music and their first CD funding round is about to see the light of day. The CD will feature nine performers and 12 songs which Betty has chosen and is called “All in the Golden Afternoon”.
Members of the society can also get a discount off her CD Classic Children’s Songs.
Betty’s songs, often written in collaboration with Marian Lines, are sometimes outrageously funny, sometimes poignantly sad and run the gamut of the human condition.
She has written a substantial number of songs with guitar accompaniment and as well as guitar pieces.
I first came across her pieces “Larcombe’s Fancy” when I was at school and they seemed to look at guitar music from a fresh perspective, plus it was playable!
In 1976, she wrote a piece for flautist Alison Roseveare and myself called “Temperaments”.
Her other guitar works include Larcombe’s Fancy, a sonata, two sonatinas and a guitar quartet written for the Omega Quartet.
Most of these are available from Thames publishing (now part of William Elkin Music Services) , a company she set up with her husband John Bishop.
Her music can be bitter sweet in a tonal sense and is always crystal clear in intention, often with a wicked sense of humour. Reminiscent of Noel Coward and Flanders and Swann.
She and I have been sharing a singing and guitar course together with regulars since around 1987 and it is always a great pleasure and privilege to listen to her and her students perform. Now in her eighties, she is as active as ever.
Some videos of her music
Here is a list of future performances of her music – do try to catch one!
W10 Singers will be performing the world premiere of Betty Roe’s new work Everyone Sang in their concert “Elements”. The programme will also include Betty Roe’s haunting John Donne setting Goe and catche a falling starre and musical extracts from her pantomime Dick Whittington.
Saturday 2 November 2013 at 7.00 pm. St Mary’s Hanwell, Church Road, London, W7 3BZ. Tickets £10.
The English Poetry and Song Society’s 30th anniversary concert will include The Dream House from Betty Roe’s Three Songs for Graham with Benjamin Britten’s Tit for Tatand On This Island, and Ivor Gurney’s Seven Sappho Songs and Lights Out. Stephen Varcoe, our President, and Sarah Leonard will be accompanied by Nigel Foster.
Friday 4 October at 7.30 pm. St James Church, 197 Piccadilly London W1J 9LL. Tickets: £15 (£12).
Wednesday 23 October 2013, 7.30 pm – Ned Rorem’s 90th birthday concert, Evidence of Things Not Seen (1997)
Wednesday 30 October 2013, 7.30 pm – Songs by Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc and Franz Schubert including Benjamin Britten’s Poet’s Echo, with a pre-performance talk at 7.00 pm.
Monday 4 November 2013, 7.30 pm – Songs by Britten, Poulenc and Schubert. Poulenc’s Deux Poemes de Louis Aragon, Bleuet and Fiançailles Pour Rire with Britten’sMichelangelo Sonnets and A Charm of Lullabies.
Wednesday 6 November 2013, 7.30 pm – Comedy songs including Flanders and Swann, Noel Coward, Tom Lehrer and Gilbert and Sullivan.
Wednesday 13 November 2013, 7.30 pm Winter and Summer Words combining Benjamin Britten’s Winter Words with other settings of Thomas Hardy by Gerald Finzi to create a new cycle called ‘Winter and Summer Words’.
All concerts are at St Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, London WC2E 9ED. Tickets £15 (£10).