At Radio Days we know how evocative the music of an era can be in bringing to mind those distant memories, in vividly conjuring to our minds the spirit of a past age, and therefore how music can as a reference point be a valuable and enjoyable resource for discovering more and learning more about our recent history.
That is why we bring to life the social and cultural history of the first half of the 20th century through open-to-all ‘learning events’ in museums, schools, and libraries in which we celebrate the living memories of our older citizens and provide entertaining learning opportunities for the youngest citizens.
Based in south-west London, Radio Days collaborates with museums, libraries, local education authorities, schools and colleges, and other educational bodies in London and the South-East of England to develop and present participatory learning experiences in history, covering the years from 1900, through World War One and the inter-war years, to the end of World War Two.
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Our repertoire of popular songs covers the entire period from 1900 to 1945. The following descriptions will give you a brief overview of the range of our material.
With a repertoire of musical moods and popular songs all the way from the elegant drawing rooms of Downton Abbey to the rumbustious fun of the Music Hall, Radio Days will bring to life the social and cultural world of Edwardian England with such songs as Lily of Laguna (1898), Down by the Old Mill Stream (1908), By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (1909), Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1910), and Moonlight Bay (1912).
From the recruiting songs of the Music Hall at the beginning of the war through soldiers' songs of the estaminet and the trenches, from the poignancy of Ivor Novello's stirring Keep The Home Fires Burning to the barbed pathos of the anonymous Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire, from the romance of If You Were the Only Girl In The World to the cynicism of If You Were the Only Boche In The Trench, Radio Days offers the some of the most memorable popular songs from the First World War.
The war is over! And it’s time to dance and go for a new look. It’s the time of the Flapper! Men and Women started dating in the 1920s in a different way than they would have before this time, and a sense of freedom grew into the lives of a growing middle class. Radio Days offers a great selection of music from the 1920s from The Charleston to popular songs like Ain’t She Sweet that reminds us of the new concept and redefinition of womWedding band, vintage band, 1920s band, 1930s band, vintage wedding music, corporate entertainment, jazz era, vintage singer, vintage singer london, vintage singer brighton, retro band, retro jazzanhood in that time, and dance music that represents very well the social, artistic, and cultural dynamism of that era. We will remember how many items were invented or popularized, like the use of the telephone, the hair dryer, insuline injections or traffic lights, in a time of prosperity and political tranquility in Europe that led to entertainment music such as Whispering, That’s My Weakness now, and many more!
The good times ended abruptly after the Wall Street crash of 1929, and much of the Thirties were under the influence of the economic downturn that started in the USA and had a big impact in Europe. A time of poverty while the richest families would try to escape reality with big luxurious parties and the poor would escape through popular entertainment, for which Radio Days have songs like Putting on the Ritz. In Britain the golden age of cinema is emerging. The 1930s is a time in which jazz thrives and swing band music is a must.
Songs of hope and encouragement at a time at which people were either away at war or digging for victory at home. With themes like When The Lights Go On Again, There’ll Always Be An England and Lilli Marlene, we will take a journey through the many faces of society from changes in fashion determined by rationing to how people would prepare their homes and themselves for war. These were 'radio days', and the influence of broadcast music as propaganda was to assume great importance. We will look at the role of the BBC with respect to choice of music, censorship and songs that changed their lyrics (like Run Rabbit Run).
Radio Days offers a suite of cross-curricular workshops (History, Music, English Literature ... and, yes!, ICT) for the classroom. We will also work in partnership with you in co-developing bespoke projects for secondary education and beyond.
Pupils will find out more about the history of their own community, of Britain, of Europe and of the world, as specified for Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5 of the National Curriculum—for example, Social Change in 20th century Britain. (AQA, CCEA, EDEXCEL, OCR Syllabus A, WEJC). We develop a chronological overview that enables students to make connections within and across different periods and societies, in their investigation of Britain's relationships with the wider world, and relate past events to the present day.
Community-building through inter-generational dialogue is a crucial part of our mission: we firmly believe that our children can not only enjoy listening to, and can be fascinated by, the vivid recollections of their seniors but can also become better citizens through immersing themselves in the childhood memories of their elders.
We provide music scores and lyric sheets at our school events, working with our hosts to prepare children to sing along with the band.
If you would like us to bring a learning event to your school or organisation, please complete our contact form (accessed via a link in the bottom menu tab on the left) selecting “a living history event” from the first pull-down menu.
We pride ourselves in never falling back on a lazy one-size-fits-all policy. And so, because no two events and no two clients are ever the same, we will work with you to tailor a bespoke package that matches your requirements and budget. The following are indicative formats for the kinds of things we do.
For music-only performances (concerts, parties, weddings, corporate entertainment) we can help you to mix-and-match from our five-decade repertoire (see PDFs at bottom of this page) to select with us exactly the songs you want for your event. Our music-only performances have the following formats:
A musical presentation and talk (suitable for 11 years and older). We currently offer the following three presentations.
Tailored according to age group. We offer one-session taster workshops, or work with you to develop a project that runs over several sessions at the end of which there can be a performance. These might, for example, be family workshops (from 7 years upwards), children only (different age ranges) or adults only. Please contact us to tell us your requirements.
To find out more about our repertoires for each of the musical eras, we encourage you to look at the following.
How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?, Lloyd George's Beer, You'd Better Be Nice To Them Now, and And When They Ask Us: popular songs, with commentary, from the First World War.
Penned by Joe Young and Sam M. Lewis, with music by Walter Donaldson, How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm (After They've Seen Paree)? was an American hit for Nora Bayes in 1918, and in the same year a hit in the UK for music hall singer Harry Fay. Lloyd George's Beer was a 1917 UK hit for comic music hall star Ernie Mayne. You'd Better Be Nice To Them Now, written by William Tracey & Jack Stern, was another 1918 hit. And When They Ask Us is a parody, variously attributed to Cole Porter or Kit Neville, of the Jerome Kern and Herbert Reynolds love song They Didn’t Believe Me.
A whirlwind tour through more than four decades of the popular music of the early 20th century.
Music from the times of Downton Abbey and Titanic. A musical journey from the end of the Belle Époque to the start of World War I.
Radio Days at the Military and Flying Machines festival in Essex, August 2013.
At Radio Days we are aware of how important music is at conjuring memories, and apart from events in schools and libraries we work with senior citizens collaborating in creating events tailored to their tastes with activities that will give them an opportunity to talk about their memories and the music they loved to listen to.
María's solo performances are ideal for small and intimate venues, or for clients with a limited budget. offering a quite unique opportunity to listen to music from the inter-war years in a self-contained and easy-to-present format.
This performance format is also ideal for our educational outreach programme, alternating songs and stories from the social history of those times, in collaboration with the My Life Is My Museum project. See the RADIO DAYS TIME MACHINE SHOW and take a trip in time together with Dr Christopher Hutchison!
Extract from a concert of Music Hall songs from from the pre-Great War years by London based vintage singer Maria Soriano.
A small selection of our audio recordings ... (If slow in loading, please be patient as the page connects to the remote SoundCloud server.)
Maria Soriano trained in classical singing in Spain, UK, and Italy, and has a degree in History from Complutense University (Madrid). Postgraduate certificate in Secondary Education Teaching, with 18 years of experience both in teaching (Escuela de Música Creativa, Madrid) and performance. She has created and sung in contemporary music video productions, operas for parents and children, corporate choirs, cabaret performances, Spanish opera, and Renaissance music. Having performed Early Music for many years and, since 2003, Contemporary Improvisation, it was her love for vintage music and history that took her into wonderful new discoveries about voice, music, fashion, society and visual arts.
E-heritage guru and incorrigible hoarder, Christopher Hutchison is the founder and curator of My Life is My Museum. He has more than 35 years experience of teaching and research in the cognitive and computing sciences, with special interests in e-heritage and digital curation, ethnoepistemology, and social remembering. Initially a Linguistics graduate, with a MSc in Intelligent Knowledge-Based Systems and PhD in Cognitive Linguistics, he has lectured at the University of Sussex, Kingston University, the University of East Anglia, Nottingham Trent University, Université Mohamed V (Rabat), and the University of Amsterdam. He has worked on digital heritage projects for inter alia Historic Royal Palaces (London), the Museo della Lana di Scanno (Abruzzo), and the Plantin-Moretus Museum and City Prints Gallery (Antwerp).
Sharona Joshua studied fortepiano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, at the Jerusalem Music Centre with Zvi Meniker and Malcom Bilson, in Vienna with Sally Sargent and in England again with David Roblou and Richard Egarr. She now appears regularly as a soloist chamber musician on concert platform and radio, performing as soloist at major festivals all over the UK and beyond--Belgium, Poland, Spain, Germany and in the USA. She teaches fortepiano at Birmingham Conservatoire and did her recital debut at the Wigmore Hall in 2005.
Noelle Vaughn is a jazz chanteuse specialising in vintage numbers from wartime anthems and popular songs from the 1940s and 1950s. With influences such as Doris Day, Anne Shelton, Peggy Lee, Julie London – and perhaps surprisingly for a female singer, Frank Sinatra – Noelle not only sings classics and jazz standards from the golden years with exceptional flair, but exhibits visual style that exudes nothing but the most sumptuous Hollywood golden age glamour.
We'd just love to hear from you. So if you're in London or the South-East of England and would like to book an event with us (or simply find out a little more about us and what we do), please click on those very helpful postmen above to go to the Radio Days contact form, drop us a line, and we'll get back to you shortly.