As youngsters growing up on the west coast of Scotland, my brother and I fell heir to an old valved radiogram which provided us with our first experiences of radio broadcasts. On the short wave signal, and through the static, we could pick up a whole range of programmes from across the Atlantic. I particularly recall the baseball games, the American accents of the announcers providing a window to a evocative world far removed from our small Ayrshire town. These memories form the basis of Radio City.
The work is set in three movements, each introduced by a pastiche radio announcer narrative written by Philip Coutts. The first, City Noir, is a nod towards Raymond Chandler's eponymous private eye Philip Marlow and the dark cityscape of 1940s California.
Movement two, Cafe Rouge, takes its title from the main restaurant in New York's famous Hotel Pennsylvania. Two of the most famous band leaders of the 1940s, trombonists Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, broadcast live from the cafe on numerous occasions and the movement echoes with a collage of imagined sounds from the period.
The finale, Two-Minute Mile, derives from an event dubbed in the USA as "the most exciting two minutes in sport", namely the Kentucky Derby. The virtuoso soloist figurations have their roots in Kentucky bluegrass fiddle music, with the galloping bluegrass clog-dancing rhythms providing the backdrop.
- Peter Graham, Cheshire, January 2013