Northern Lights (1930)

The 1930 ‘Northern Lights’ saw some changes to the established format, as conductor Vernon Eddie reminisced :

“Now all these three editions of Northern Lights [1927-29] had used very little original music, relying on well known commercial musical comedy or traditional songs and music etc, adapted for the needs of the particular setting in the Revue. But in the next two Northern Lights we were able to produce music which was original and specially written for the Show and, indeed, with certain numbers specially written for individuals, as they had been in the days of the early University Musical Comedies.

In 1930 and 1931 with Douglas Raitt and Jimmy Ross combining so effectively as a modern Gilbert and Sullivan pair, and with an all-Varsity cast, the Show became much more our own creation. There was a great flowering of talent of all kinds, and a spontaneous enthusiasm which reached a zenith. The Show became an outstanding centrepiece for the whole Charities campaign.

Jimmy Ross wrote for these two Revues music of great verve and pace so that Northern Lights did truly beam and sparkle. I remember so well the rhythmic snap of the opening choruses and the two-four numbers like “Aberdeen a la Lido” and “By the Side of the Zuider Zee”; the sentimental charm of “Sigh in Every Willow” and “Sadie the Lady Med.”; the lovely “Song of the Waltz” and the quiet humour of “X Times X” in “The Oldest Professor”.

I remember too Douglas Raitt’s words and music in his “Varsity Girl” and “Song of the Finalist”, two widely differing interpretations of student days to rank with Eric Linklater’s “Litany of Drinking” and Jack Lawrie’s “Varsity Days” as student songs to be remembered. Nor do I forget the broad humour of “Aberdeen” which he wrote for Stephen Mitchell to sing as William Wallace in the 1931 Revue.

I was fortunate to be in both these last two editions of Northern Lights; in 1930, somewhat restricted by examinations, as Musical Advisor to the Production Committee and leader of the Orchestra, and in 1931 as Conductor of the Pit Orchestra, which was composed of musicians of our own selection.”

Vernon Eddie, 1958

(This memoir first appeared in the 1958 Student Show souvenir programme)