'Spring' and 'Winter' are two Shakespeare songs from 'Love's Labour's Lost' and were set for performance by John Kimbell at the 2019 Woodley Festival. The songs were 'Highly commended'. The music was revised in May 2019.
Spring and Winter
'Tendresse' was written for John Kimbell, and is a setting of a poem by Léon Darsonval for baritone and piano. See the notes on the linked page for more details.
It was performed by John and Anthony at the 2018 Woodley Festival, on 3/3/18, where it won a distinction and a gold medal. At the performance, we dedicated the song to the memory of our friend Tim Morgan, who recently died at the tragically young age of 35. Requiescat in pacem.
The song seemed to ask for the lyrical piano countermelody to be carried by another instrument, and a version with violin obbligato is included.
Tendresse - set for baritone
Tendresse - set for mezzosoprano
'Little Gidding' is centred on the two stanzas that comprise part IV of Little Gidding, one of TS Eliot's Four Quartets. These stanzas are topped and tailed by other words from the Quartet that seem to give some kind of thought environment for them and for their pentecostal mood. The song was written for John Kimbell, who suggested the use of the 'Little Gidding' stanzas. It was performed at the 2016 Woodley Festival.
Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote two beautiful poems, 'Spring' and 'Fall', both reflecting on nature, but ending with a reflection on God and His relationship with human beings. These are two song settings.A performance of these songs took place at the 2014 Woodley Festival on 8/3/14. The singer was the baritone John Kimbell.
'Spring' revels in the beauty of springtime in emerging leaves and plants, and new life. It is a special time of joy and innocence. Spring in human life is a time to make a commitment to Christ, before all is spoiled by sin.
The setting attempts to capture the joy of spring, before transforming the theme into a chorale-like passage for the theological musing.
In 'Fall' the poet muses on a child's unhappiness at the autumn fall of leaves in her favourite woodland, and points out that fall is a personal thing, in loss of innocence as well as a term for mortality. The setting attempts to maintain the poem's unusual rhythms by having a recitative-like voice-line to a pianistic line that is not tightly connected to it except at phrase endings.
'Heraclitus' is a lament: a setting for baritone (or mezzosoprano) of the famous poem by William Cory, which is in turn a translation of the poem by Callimachus in the 4th century B.C. Sorrow doesn't change. It is dedicated to the memory of two friends.
'Heraclitus' was performed at the Woodley Festival in 2012, sung by Lucy Head, accompanied by Juliet Bruce.
'The Cedar' is a song based on a short poem by Margie Stafford, about a cedar tree that struggles to grow out of a shale cliff, up to the birch-tree canopy. The cliff and the cedar are real, and can be seen in the Sunnywood shore-line of Lake Champlain in north New York State, USA. The American cedar is a different genus to the well-known cedar-of-Lebanon, and is regarded as sacred by Native American peoples.
"The Cedar" was performed at the Woodley Festival in 2012, sung by Lucy Head, accompanied by Juliet Bruce.
'The Mercers' Company Song' is a tune, with harmonisation, for the 1686 'Mercers' Song' which has hilariously boastful words about the Mercers' Company (compared with other Livery Companies of the City of London). The tune was commissioned in January by the then-Master Thomas Sheldon, and was sung for its first public appearance at the Mercers' Company Lady Bradbury Dinner on 12th July 2012. Those present were skilfully guided in learning the Mercers' Company Song tune by Lucy Head, Anthony's daughter. The tune is original, but was written as a pastiche of song-tunes like that of "The Vicar of Bray", which in fact dates back to the 17th century. (According to Wikipedia the 'Vicar of Bray' melody is taken from the 17th-century folk melody 'Country Gardens' which in turn was used in 'The Quaker's Opera', first printed in London in 1728 .)
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