by Carl Halling
A Halling Valley Saga
What follows is the first section of a tripartite tribute to my parents Pat and Ann Halling, to whom I owe, as if it were necessary to state it, my very physical existence, without which I would never have had the opportunity to know God by coming to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanks to the infinite mercy of Almighty God, my mother returned to the faith of her childhood in direct consequence of my own coming to faith in 1993 after some sixty years in a backslidden wilderness, and if that isn’t an example of the miracle of the Father’s unfathomable love and patience I’d like to know what is.
Sadly, my father Pat remains unsaved, but I’d like to urge all those who read the tale below, which is Pat’s own, to pray for his immortal soul.
1. The Butler Enigma
My father was born Patrick Clancy Halling on the 28th of August 1924 in
Launceston, second city of the Australian island province of Tasmania but largely raised in Sydney. His mother was an Englishwoman probably hailing from the Dulwich area of south London where her family had lately laid down roots, and born Phyllis Mary Pinnock sometime around the turn of the 20th Century. According to the testimony of Phyllis’s sister Joan, a more matter-of-fact source of information than the feyly romanesque Phyllis, their maternal grandmother’s maiden name had been Butler, name which allegedly links the family to the Butlers of Ormonde, a dynasty of Old English nobles of Norman origin which had dominated the south east of Ireland since the Middle Ages, and thence rendering it a lost or discarded branch of this same dynasty.
The earldom of Ormonde was initially created in the Peerage of Ireland in 1328 for James Butler, son of Sir Edmund Butler and Lady Joan Fitzgerald. Twice becoming extinct, the earldom of Ormonde was restored for a third time in 1538 for the benefit of one Piers Butler.
The fifth earl of this creation, James Butler, born in London on the 19th of October 1610 became the Marquess of Ormonde in 1642, and then the Duke in the Peerage of Ireland (1660), finally becoming Duke of Ormonde in the Peerage of England in 1682. He was the first of the Butlers to assume the Protestant faith, setting him at odds with the remainder of his clan, which typically of the so-called Old English families of English, Welsh, Norman, Breton and Flemish extraction, such as in addition to the Butlers, the Burkes and the Fitzgeralds, had become more Irish than the Irish themselves, or Hiberniores Hibernis ipsis, as distinct from the Protestant “New English” who had replaced them as Ireland’s ruling class by ca. 1700.
The Butler saga initiated in 1177 when one Theobold FitzWalter , who had accompanied Henry II into Ireland, was created Chief Butler of Ireland. The 4th Butler of Ireland, Theobald le Botillier, married Joan FitzJohn, who was descended from Charlemagne, espousal which links the Butlers of Ormonde to the Carolingian dynasty of Frankish rulers.
The earldom of Ormonde was created for James Butler, son of Edmond de Botillier, also known as Sir Edmund Butler. He went on to marry Alionore de Bohun, who was the granddaughter of Edward the 1st of the House of Plantagenet, and the so-called “Hammer of the Scots”.
Again according to Joan’s testimony, her paternal grandfather had been a humble coachman, evidently bequeathed a considerable sum of money by a beneficient employer, philanthropic act which introduced some wealth into the family, although the coachman’s son went on to become bankrupt in consequence of unwise investments, thereby setting a precedent within the family for fortunes made and lost.
My grandmother, Phyllis Mary Pinnock was born, probably on the 12th of March, sometime towards the end, or following the turn of the 20th Century. She grew into a beautiful young woman, with dark hair, green eyes, high cheekbones and an exquisitely sculpted mouth.
According to Pat’s account, her first true love David Wilson, allegedly a scion of the Wilson Line of Hull which had developed into the largest privately owned shipping firm in the world in the early part of the century, perished during the First World War. Subsequently she became espoused to an army officer by the name of Peter Robinson, and they had two children, Peter Bevan born on the 5th of April 1919, and Suzanne, known as Dinny, born some two years or so years thereafter.
At some point between Peter’s birth and that of Patrick in 1924, Phyllis, known to my father and his immediate family including myself as Mary, decamped with her husband to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, with the purpose of working in the capacity of tea planter.
In Ceylon she met my namesake Carl Halling, a Dane who’d apparently once been in possession of a significant fortune, but who for reasons of which I am yet unaware ended up working, like Mary and Peter, on a tea plantation.
What ensued I cannot say for certain, but through family sources, I have been apprised of the fact that at some point after becoming enceinte with her third child, Mary absconded with Carl to the island of Tasmania, Australia, where my father Patrick was born, on the 28th of August 1924, to be raised as Carl’s son. After some years on Tasmania, Carl, Mary and their three children moved to Sydney, New South Wales.
It was in Sydney that Carl contracted multiple sclerosis, after which according to family accounts, Mary made a living variously as a journalist, and teacher.
In the meantime, Carl embarked on a desperate spiritual search in the hope no doubt that this would yield a miraculous cure, only to die immediately prior to the second world war, whereupon the family moved once again, this time to Denmark, where Carl was buried.
All three children had earlier displayed considerable musical talent, Patrick as a violinist, Peter as a cellist and Suzanne as a pianist. By the time Pat was nine years old he was already the soloist for the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, with all his wages according to Pat being duly conveyed by Mary into the family account.
Soon after Carl’s death, Mary and family set off for London in order that Pat and his siblings might develop their musical careers. Pat studied at the Royal Academy of Music, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He joined the London Philharmonic 0rchestra while still a teenager during the Blitz on London, serving in the Sea Cadets as a signaller, and seeing action as such on the hospital ships of the Thames River Emergency Service, which had been formed in 1938 and lasted for three years, using converted Thames pleasure steamers as floating ambulances or first aid stations
Following his tenure with the LP0, Pat played with the London Symphony Orchestra together with his brother Peter, going on to specialise in Chamber music, his career incorporating eight years with the Hirsch quartet, led by Leonard Hirsch, with Pat (violin), Stephen Shingles (viola), and Francisco Gabarro (cello), and the formation of his own string quartet, the Quartet Pro Musica, with Ernest Scott (violin), Gwynne Edwards (viola), and Peter Halling (cello), as well as time with the Virtuoso Ensemble, whose distinctions have included first British performances of works by Peter Racine Fricker and Humphrey Searle, among other 20th Century English composers.
2. Angela Jean Watt
In the late 1940s, he married my mother, the Canadian singer Ann Watt. She had been born Angela Jean Watt on the 13th of November 1915 to British-born parents in the city of Brandon, Manitoba. Her father a carpenter by trade was from a Presbyterian family of Scottish extraction, but hailing from the Donegal-Tyrone borderlands in the province of Ulster, Ireland. Her mother was from Glasgow, Scotland, having been born there to an English father, hailing either from Liverpool or Manchester, and Scottish mother. Thence my mother was born with mixed lowland Scottish, Scots-Irish and English blood.
My paternal grandfather was probably a descendant of the planters sent according to the historical account by the English to Ulster, many of them originally inhabitants of the Anglo-Scottish border country, as well as the Scottish lowlands, lowlanders being traditionally altogether distinct from the Highlanders, which is to say widely considered to be of Anglo-Saxon rather than Gaelic-Scottish extraction, although how true this is it is impossible to say, and sense dictates that in their bloodline would be multiple admixtures admixtures, Anglo-Saxon, Gaelic, Norman, and so on.
Many of these Ulster Scots emigrated to the United States in the 1600s, and their descendants are to be found all throughout the US, but most famously perhaps in those regions of which the south is composed in a cultural sense.
3. The Session Years
On the 7th of October 1955 at 3.50pm in the afternoon, Pat and Ann’s first son was born in a hospital at the tail end of the Goldhawk Road just a little way down the road from their little terraced house in Notting Hill. Some two or so years later, the young family moved to Bedford Park, an area north of Chiswick close by to Acton Green, considered by some to be in south Acton by virtue of its geographical location and yet partaking of a Chiswick postcode. In May 1958 their second son was born in Bethnal Green, east London.
With the rise of popular culture in the 1960s, Pat moved into the world of session recordings for film, television and popular music, and for much of his session career, he worked as the musical fixer, viz. he or she who is contracted to recruit the players for a particular musical session, as well as the leader or concertmaster, which is to say the principal violin, who is also traditionally in charge not just of the string section but the entire orchestra and thence answerable only to the conductor.
He worked with producer and arranger Micky Most on a series of now classic recordings for international pop superstars as diverse as Tom Jones, Donovan, Hot Chocolate and Suzi Quatro. He also contributed to highly successful recordings by Lulu, Cilla Black; and the sublime British crooner Matt Munro.
Moreover, he lent his talents to recordings by composer and arranger Tony Hatch, who with his wife Jackie Trent penned a long series of ‘60s Pop masterpieces for the former child singing and acting prodigy Petula Clark, once known as Britain’s Shirley Temple, who enjoyed a parallel continental career during the swinging sixties, recording in French, German, Spanish and Italian. Her British Pop career secured her colossal success in the United States, then as now the most important musical market in the western world.
For fabulously successful Beatles producer George Martin, he led the string section that was filmed live for "All you Need is Love" written specially for the "Our World" programme, the latter securing an international audience of 350 million people at the height of the so-called Summer of Love on July 25th 1967. It was the first satellite broadcast in history, and thence one of the most famous pieces of film ever made.
For the internationally successful progressive rock singer, flautist and composer Ian Anderson, as well as conductor/arranger/musician David Palmer, he served as leader for two Jethro Tull albums, namely “Warchild” (1974) and “Minstrel in the Gallery” (1975), both recognised today as masterworks of the prog genre.
Other experimental or art-inclined rock albums on which Pat played include “Definitely What” (1968) by Brian Auger and the Trinity, “Cosmic Wheels” (1973) by Donovan, “Beginnings” (1975) by Yes guitarist Steve Howe, “Visionary” (1976) and “Perilous Journey” (1976) by Gordon Giltrap and “Octoberon” (1976) by Barclay James Harvest.
Working with David Palmer and Ian Anderson again, together with other musicians from Tull, he led the strings for “Woman in the Wings” (1978), the debut solo album of the ethereal-voiced chanteuse Maddy Prior, of pioneering folk-rock band Steeleye Span.
For the prolific composer, producer and arranger Johnny Harris, Pat led the strings on Harris’ solo album “To Bring You Morning” (1973), which featured no less than three one-time members of another globally renowned progressive rock band Yes, namely the aforesaid Steve Howe, vocalist/composer Jon Anderson, and drummer Alan White.
For his very close friend Derek Wadsworth he played on “Metropolitan Man” (1974) by former Animals keyboardist Alan Price, who went on to enjoy considerable pop star success with several deeply infectious tunes in the mid to late 60s with his own Alan Price Set.
With another one-time pop idol David Essex, he worked on a variety of projects, from the international hit single “Rock On” (1974) to the album of Essex’s stage show “Mutiny”, based on the story of the Bounty mutiny.
Essex’s early hits had been produced by the New York born Jeff Wayne, with whom Pat worked on the massive international hit “Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds” (1978), widely recognised as a bona fide masterpiece of large scale rock composing.
He worked with French disco songwriter/producer Alec R. Constandinos on his “Love and Kisses” project which produced three innovative albums between 1977 and 1979, as well as “Central Heating” in ’77 for the masterly soul collective Heatwave, featuring Britain’s Rod Temperton as chief songwriter, and arranged and conducted by Pat’s close personal friend John Cameron, who’d also arranged many of Donovan’s major hits.
Strings being much in demand during the disco era, Pat played on several other disco albums including “Limelight Disco Symphony” (1978) by Melophonia, produced by Alain Boublil and Franck Pourcel, and arranged by Colin Frechtel, Gerry Shury and John Fiddy, and Miquel Brown’s “Symphony of Love” (1978), written by Alan Hawkshaw and Barry Mason.
For Rock legends Paul McCartney and Pete Townsend of the Who he led the orchestra for, respectively, “Give My Regards to Broad Street” (1984), and “The Iron Man: A Musical” (1989). Pete’s father the saxophonist Cliff Townsend had once been a friend of Pat’s, working with him for some years on the famous Parkinson show, hosted by British chat show king Michael Parkinson.
Furthermore, Pat contributed “To Go Beyond, Pt. 2”, the final track of the enormously successful “Enya” (1987) album by Irish superstar Enya Brennan. In 1992, it was remastered and renamed “The Celts” to be used by the BBC for the television series of the same name.
4. The Jazz Fiddler
From the ‘60s onwards, Pat worked on a variety of jazz projects, including the “Adam’s Rib Suite” in 1968 for his friend the jazz composer Ken Moule in 1968, and “The Only Chrome Waterfall Orchestra” (1974) for jazz fusion pioneer Mike Gibbs. He also played on American jazz vocalist Salena Jones’ 1974 release “This ‘N’ That”, together with saxophonist Ronnie Ross, trombone player Don Lusher, among other stalwarts of British jazz. Also involved were Scottish trombonist Johnny Watson, multi-instrumentalist Ray Warleigh, and violin virtuoso Howard Ball, all close personal friends of Pat’s, while Johnny Harris produced.
Other jazz bands in which Pat was involved include the London Swingtette, which Pat formed sometime in the late ‘80s or early ‘90s with Colin Green (guitar), Dave Richmond (bass) and Jack Emblow (accordion), and which secured several BBC radio broadcasts.
5. The Concertmaster
Pat served as concertmaster for Johnny Green on Lionel Bart's "Oliver" (1968), directed by Carol Reed, arguably the greatest film musical of recent times, and for John Williams on “Fiddler on the Roof” (1971), another film masterpiece based on a stage musical, directed by Normal Jewison.
Written for the theatre by Jerry Bock, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Williams adapted the original music for film, which he also conducted. The screenplay by Joseph Stein was based on an original story by Sholom Aleichem.
In addition to the phenomenally successful Williams, he served as concertmaster for several other major 20th Century musical figures, Dimitri Tiomkin, Nelson Riddle, Maurice Jarre, Georges Delerue and Wilfred Josephs among them.
He worked with Petula Clark again on the screen musical version directed by Herbert Ross of James Hilton’s “Goodbye Mr Chips” (1969), with original music by John Williams, and featuring most poignant performances by Peter O’Toole as Chips, and Petula as his wife Katherine.
The screenplay was fashioned by one of the 20th Century’s leading dramatists, Terence Rattigan, while British writer and lyricist Leslie Bricusse, most famous for his work with Anthony Newlay, provided both the music and lyrics for the fine songs.
Interestingly another friend of Pat’s, the composer, conductor and arranger David Lindup, with whom he’d worked with John Dankworth, one of Britain’s most famous ever jazz musicians, together with his wife the jazz singer Cleo Laine, was involved with the project as one of the orchestrators. I say interestingly because David’s son Mike attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the late 1970s, where he became a friend of mine, before going on to achieve international pop stardom with the jazz fusion collective Level 42.
With British composer Eric Rogers, he worked on many of the celebrated “Carry On” (195 series of British comedy films, as well as the main theme by Elmer Bernstein from “The Great Escape” (1963), which was included in the 2006 release “Romancing the Screen, Vol 3: Hollywood Epics”, and attributed to Eric Rogers, Patrick Halling and the London Festival Orchestra.
He also worked on movie projects for two monumental figures of the 20th Century cinema in the shape of Sir Charles Chaplin and Fred Zinnemann, both of whom I am proud to say he personally introduced to me.
“The Day of the Jackal” (1973) and “Julia” (1979) were the Zinnemann projects in question, and both featured music by French composer Georges Delerue.
With another celebrated French film composer Maurice Jarre, he worked on “Ryan’s Daughter” (1969), directed by David Lean, which while not a success at the time, has since acquired a reputation among some cinema critics as an underrated masterpiece.
Again with John Cameron, he worked on several major movies, among them “The Mirror Crack’d” and “Evil Under the Sun”, both directed by Guy Hamilton, and produced by John Brabourne and Richard Goodwin.
For Goodwin’s wife writer/director Christine Edzard, he served as soloist for her art house triumph “Biddy” (1983), scored by Michel Sanvoisin; working again with Edzard, Goodwin and Sanvoisin on “Little Dorrit” (1988), and with Edzard and Sanvoisin alone on “The Fool” (1990).
Incidentally on “Little Dorrit”, based on the novel by Charles Dickens, Pat is credited either as soloist or song performer, duty he shared with his beloved friend, Catalan cellist Francisco Gabarro, known as Gabby, as well as the celebrated clarinettist Jack Brymer.
6. Television and In Concert
Pat’s career in television included solos played for the situation comedy, "Steptoe and Son" (1962-1974) by one-time Tony Hancock writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, with music, including the well known theme by the Australian composer Ron Grainer. He also worked with Grainer on “Tales of the Unexpected (1979-1988), based on the stories by Roald Dahl.
But arguably his most memorable solo for television was that featured in the exquisite opening and closing theme composed by Edward Williams and conducted by Marcus Dods to BBC’s “Life on Earth” (1979), a rightly controversial 13-part documentary series by British naturalist David Attenborough, the brother of Sir Richard, and whom I met very briefly at a social function with his wife in the late 1970s, most probably ’79.
Other television projects on which Pat worked include “Hold that Dream” (1986) based on the novel by Barbara Taylor Bradford, with original score by longtime friend Barrie Guard, “Tears in the Rain” (1988), from a novel by Pamela Wallace, with music again by Guard, and “The Darling Buds of May” (1992-1993), based on the novel by HE Bates, and with music by Pip Burley and Guard.
In concert, he played for Tony Bennett, arguably the greatest living popular singer, and my own favourite ever Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, as well as Perry Como, Tiny Tim, Liberace, Barry Manilow and Barry White among others. In late 1976, he served as leader in London for one of his personal heroes, Bing Crosby, during the latter’s final tour of the UK.
7. The Nineties and Beyond
In 1990, he appeared on the leading British classical guitarist John Williams’ album “The Guitar is the Song”, having earlier worked with Williams on “John Williams plays Patrick Gowers and Scarlatti” (1972), and specifically on Gowers’ “Chamber Concerto for Guitar”, as well as “Portrait of John Wlliams” (1982), serving as leader of the String Orchestra for Vivaldi’s Concerto in D major, and “Cavatina” by British composer Stanley Myers, known by many as the theme to “The Deerhunter”, after the harrowing Vietnam film tragedy by Michael Cimino.
There is a fascinating tale attached to English singer-songwriter John Dawson Read for whom Pat served as leader on his two 1970s albums, “A Friend of Mine is Going Blind” and “Read On”:
Sometime around 2005, the singer songwriter Michael Johnson included an MP3 of Read singing the title track of his first album, “A Friend of Mine” on his website, and many Read fans began communicating through the site in consequence. His subsequent re-entry into the music resulted in a belated third album in the shape of “Now…where were we?” released in 2005.
In 1993, the Leonardo String Quartet was formed with Pat and Claire Griffin playing violin, and Nigel Rowlands and Erica Simpson, viola and cello respectively, their repertoire including classical music, as well as pop, both traditional and contemporary.
Between 2000-2002, Pat contributed exquisitely arranged solo violin parts as well as some improvisation to Barrie Guard’s jazz and traditional pop outfit Nuages, which featured his elder son Carl Halling on vocals, together with John Sutton on bass, and Sebastian Guard, and Stephan Booroff on drums. Nuages disbanded in 2002, soon after which Barrie went to reside in France with his wife Chris. He recently served as co-producer on “Accidents Occur While Sleeping (2006), the debut album by Lupen Crook, a critically-praised singer-songwriter from the Medway area of Kent, also playing keyboards, harmonic and bass.
8. Pat’s Current Career
Currently, Pat is serving as leader for Roy Clarke’s "Last of the Summer Wine", the BBC comedy series that is the longest running in television history, having initiated as early as 1973, and under the headship of Ronnie Hazelhurst, who has composed the original music since 1983, and conducted since 2000.
Hazelhurst, a jazz musician as well as a writer of strikingly original TV theme tunes such as those for “Are You being Served” and “The Two Ronnies”, also penned the gentle pastoral theme tune, famously graced by the harmonica playing of internationally renowned virtuoso Jim Hughes.
Thanks to the Leonardo, as well as the Quartet Pro Musica, an exclusively classical quartet led by Pat himself, with Howard Ball (violin), Robin Firman (cello), and David Ogden (viola), Pat’s concert career has been comprehensively revived.
With the help of Jim Hughes, he began work on an album of popular song standards featuring his son Carl on vocals in 2006. Eventually given the title of “A Taste of Summer Wine” thanks to the beneficience of Ronnie Hazelhurst, it features The London Jazz Septet, consisting of Jim, Jud Proctor (guitar), Dave Richmond/John Sutton (bass), Sebastian Guard (drums), Carl Halling (vocals), as well as the Quartet Pro Musica.
Sound engineer Tony Philpot, who has been a successful sound recordist since the late 1960s, took charge of the recording, and the final mix is currently being prepared by Tony for a possible released this spring or summer (2007).
Other forthcoming projects include the world premiere of the string quartet “A Poet’s Calendar” by long-time friend Derek Wadsworth, who has worked in a vast variety of musical fields since the early ‘60s, as multi-instrumentalist, composer, conductor and arranger. The piece, which will be played by the Quartet Pro Musica together with works by Haydn and Borodin, will receive its debut at the Riverhouse Barn Studio, Walton on Thames on the 10th March 2007, for the Elmbridge Music Club. Moreover, Pat will also take part in the first live performances of Quartets 1 and 2 by jazz drummer Tony Kinsey, who is also a composer in a variety of genres including chamber music, the Quartets having been recorded only last year.
As if all this weren't sufficient, Pat regularly performs at his local sailing club with a diversity of friends and collaborators, such as the South African musician and composer Michael Lee, his wife Ann supporting him with her poetry readings.
Despite having worked as a professional musician for more than half a century, Pat has hardly been busier than he is today, fact which serves as testimony to the man’s almost preternatural energy and force of will.
Although there is as yet no no hard and fast evidence that Pat has Scandinavian blood, research related to the Norwegians who emigrated to the American Midwest and particularly Minnesota from about the middle of the 19th Century onwards, reveals that one of the characteristics of the Hallings of the Halling valley in Buskerud county, is, in the words of the Norwegian-American writer Syver Swenson Rodning, who in 1917 took first prize in an essay set by a man called Hallingen, and entitled “A Halling is a Halling wherever he is”, firmness “in thoughts and beliefs”, so that he would “rather break than bend”. The Hallings themselves settled primarily in Spring Grove, with traces of their subculture surviving into the 1930s.
Perhaps then after all alone among the three children born to Phyllis Mary Halling, Patrick was a true Halling with roots deep in the Hallingdal where the Halling Valley River lies.