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Alexander Faris Suggest updates

Samuel Alexander Faris.

Born Caledon, Co Tyrone, 11 June 1921.

Died 28 September 2015.

Northern Irish composer and conductor.

Alexander Faris was recognized as one of the leading British conductors of operetta and musicals over many decades. As a composer, he produced music for a substantial range of films and television series, winning an Ivor Novello Award in 1975.

He studied music at Christ Church, Oxford, with a Kitchener Scholarship, before serving in the Irish Guards during the war. Resuming his training in London at the Royal College of Music, in 1948 he was appointed chorus master of the Carl Rosa Opera Company. Later that year he made his debut as an opera conductor, with Madam Butterfly in Lewisham.

He conducted several musicals in the West End, starting in 1949 with a run of Song of Norway at the Palace Theatre. In 1959 he conducted the European premiere of Bernstein's Candide, which toured Oxford and Manchester before reaching London.

He then joined Sadler's Wells, initially conducting La bohème, and later Hansel and Gretel and Madam Butterfly. But he quickly settled comfortably into a lighter area of the repertoire, principally the operettas of Sullivan and Offenbach. These alternated with further West End shows, including Robert and Elizabeth (Ron Grainer 1964) with June Bronhill and Keith Michell, The Great Waltz (1970) at the Adelphi with Sári Barábas, and Barmitzvah Boy (1978). In 1982 he conducted an open air staging by Anthony Besch of The Yeomen of the Guard in the moat of the Tower of London. This featured Tommy Steele as Jack Point.

He worked extensively in television, composing music for series such as The Forsyte Saga. His score for The Edwardians won an Ivor Novello Award in 1975. Film soundtracks for which Faris composed the music include The Quare Fellow (1962), He Who Rides a Tiger (1965) and Georgy Girl (1966). He conducted the soundtracks for the Warner Video series of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas (all issued on DVD). His CDs include a recording of Sullivan overtures with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

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