Hitting the right notes

Classical music composer John Mackfall has had his talent recognised in a national competition.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 15th January 2012, 4:30 pm

The 62-year-old is through to the second round of the Oldie Composers contest which is being judged by Sir Terry Wogan, Ken Bruce, Bob Harris, Johnnie Walker and Malcolm Prince.

He penned the music and lyrics to Requiem for a Soldier about two years ago and is hoping it will bring him recognition from within the music industry after 14 years of composing.

John, of Gringley Road, Misterton, said: “My musical peers have told me that I’m a genius.”

“I’ve been involved in music all my life and I when I wrote Requiem there was a lot in the news about soldiers.”

“When I get inspiration and sit down to compose, it happens instinctively.”

His composition was one of 50 in the first round, which has now been whittled down to 21. The final four will have their music recorded with professional musicians and the overall winner will be chosen by the number of public downloads it gets.

John’s love of music began as a child of four when he remembers sitting in front of his grandmother’s radiogram and listening to composers like Elgar and Mendelssohn.

As a schoolboy he joined the Worksop Youth Orchestra and used to bike to rehearsals from Bircotes with his violin strapped to his back.

He played by ear and it wasn’t until he was in his 30s that he taught himself to read music properly.

“I do music from the heart, I’m self-taught. Music has always been instinctive with me,” he said.

He joined his first band at the age of 15 and over the years has played with numerous groups.

His tastes are eclectic and he cites the two best albums ever produced, in terms of creativity, as the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

“I’ve played all different kinds of music, been in rock bands, close harmony, comedy, and worked on the cruise ship Canberra.”

“I must have done 100,000 miles on Canberra with the Eddie Laver Show Band. I’ve also played in some of the London venues like the Cafe Royal and Park Lane.”

John was on the road until the age of 48 when he decided to concentrate on composing instead. He is married to Lyn and says: “I couldn’t have done any of it without her support.”

They have a son and a daughter and a 14-month-old granddaughter who John says is the first in the family to show any interest in music.

John said his mentor and manager Gary Clark took his music to Sony and it was hoped opera singer Russell Watson would record a track called The Hand of God, but unfortunately it didn’t fit in with the theme for his new album.

It was also going to be recorded by America’s Got Talent winner Neil E Boyd whose managers asked for the lyrics and piano score to be sent to them in New York, however Neil lost his recording contract.

John has also written a musical opera about 9/11 called Towers.

The Oldie Composers contest is also raising money for children’s charity Barnado’s. To listen to John’s song go to www.oldiecomposers.com