Pete Townshend will perform at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Parkinson’s UK presents: Symfunny No. 2 on April 19, it has been announced.
Jason Manford has been revealed as host for the fundraiser, which will also feature comedian Rob Deering. Both Townshend and Deering have a personal connection to the cause. Deering’s father has been living with Parkinson’s for the past 18 years, while Townshend’s late father-in-law, composer Edwin Astley, died of a Parkinson’s-related illness in 1998.
The event, hosted by Parkinson’s UK, is the brainchild of conductor, composer and producer, James Morgan who was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s in 2012. Morgan, along with his partner, fellow composer, producer and mezzo soprano Juliette Pochin, wanted to use their connections to help raise money for and awareness of the condition.
Morgan reached out to Townshend to take part having previously worked with him on the Classic Quadrophenia album, from which The Who guitarist will perform Love, Reign o’er Me on the night. “I’m pleased to work with my friend and colleague James Morgan in the Symfunny concert," said Townshend. "My beloved father-in-law Edwin Astley, who helped me break into orchestral arrangements for some of my songs in the ‘80s, suffered and eventually died from Supranuclear Palsy which is a horrible type of Parkison’s Disease. Together we collaborated on several songs, one very silly fugue called Football Fugue, which I will perform on the night. If I’m allowed to speak, I can be funny too.”
Katie Melua, Collabro, Josh Widdicombe, Jack Dee and the I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue team will also be taking to the stage on the night, accompanied by the specially created Symfunny Orchestra And Choir. Further acts will be announced ahead of the event, which debuted at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014.
James Morgan recently appeared in Music Week's Six Questions With...feature.