Thomas Hardy: Wessex Love Songs
Music in Country Churches - Minchinhampton
Featuring: Lotte Betts-Dean soprano
James Girling guitar
Music at Minchinhampton
Holy Trinity Church, near Stroud, Glos., GL6 9BP
Fri 27th May 2022
There will be a pre-concert talk at 6pm. Further details will be available shortly.
The concert will last approximately 60 minutes and there will be a short interval of 15-20 minutes during which drinks will be served.
ARTHUR KEEGAN-BOLE (b. 1986), Elegies for Emma (poems of 1912-14) (2022)
KERRY ANDREW (b. 1978), The Echo Elf Answers (2022)
BETTY ROE (b. 1930), Beeny Cliff (2001)
DAVID GOW (1924 – 1983), Songs from a Distant Door (1987)
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913 – 1976), At the Railway Station, Upway (1953)
GERALD FINZI (1901 – 1956), It Never Looks Like Summer (1956)
ETHEL H. H. RICHARDSON (1870 – 1946), Regret Me Not (1943)
ROBIN MILFORD (1903 – 1959), If it’s Ever Spring Again (1934)
IMOGEN HOLST (1907 – 1984), Weathers (1926)
IVOR GURNEY (1890 – 1937), In the Black Winter Morning (1924)
ARNOLD BAX (1883 – 1953), The Market Girl (1922)
TRAD., arranged BENJAMIN BRITTEN, I Will Give My Love an Apple (1961)
TRAD., arranged CECIL SHARP (1859 – 1924), The Nightingale (1917)
JOHN DOWLAND (1563 – c.1626), Come Again, Sweet Love Doth Now Invite (1597)
HENRY PURCELL (c. 1659 – 1695), An Evening Hymn (1688)
This programme was devised and curated by Arthur Keegan-Bole.
About the programme
"Up against [a] dark background the west front of the church tower... rose distinct and lustrous, the vane upon the summit bristling with rays."
Thomas Hardy, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874)
For well over a century, composers, perhaps most famously, Gerald Finzi, Benjamin Britten and Arnold Bax, have been fascinated in setting Thomas Hardy's poetry and prose to music. To celebrate this century-long association, ‘Wessex Love Songs’ places settings of Hardy’s words alongside core repertoire from the English tradition of song.
The programme showcases the intimate combination of guitar and singer which has been a cornerstone of the English tradition since the renaissance. Many of the arrangements have been especially prepared for this concert and combination, providing an opportunity to hear afresh well-known works. At the centre of this celebratory programme are two song cycles: one by Lennox Berkley, the seldom-performed ‘Songs of the Half Light’; and, as a world premiere, Arthur Kegan-Bole’s ‘Elegies for Emma’, which set the great poems of 1912 to 1913 written shortly after his first wife, Emma’s death.
This programme is a celebration not only of English song but also of the English countryside and, in particular, the rural church as the inspiration for song and the focus of country life. Here connections with Hardy abound. Hardy loved hymns. He grew up with church and lived surrounded by music which featured in all aspects of life, from services in church to social occasions. These elements of rural life Hardy incorporated into his novels which include descriptions and accounts of travelling groups of church musicians to the singing of tradition folk songs. In Tess of the d’Urbevilles, Hardy used folk music to symbolise the link between Tess’ past and present and so we are reminded of both the continuity of the country church at the centre of our communities and the heritage of music and architecture that we treasure and love.
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