Tuesday, 2 April 2013

RHC Open the 2013 London English Song Festival - by William Vann

Hope you all had a lovely Easter!

The dates have now been announced for the 2013 London English Song Festival and the Royal Hospital Chelsea Chapel Choir will be opening the series on Thursday 2nd May with a rare treat as they perform some of the most outstanding secular choral music written in the beautiful Wren Chapel.

Benjamin Britten's five Flower Songs are some of the finest examples of 20th century choral writing, beginning with a setting of Herrick's wonderful poem To Daffodils and ending with a flourish as the words to the tongue-twisting song Green Broom are repeated over and over again. The timing of this performance is very apt, with the Chelsea Flower Show opening at the Royal Hospital Chelsea very soon afterwards.

The Margaret Thatcher Infirmary surrounded by Daffodils
These works will be performed alongside part-songs, folk-songs and madrigals. The Renaissance period was the peak of madrigal writing in England under composers such as Orlando Gibbons, John Farmer, John Bennet, Thomas Morley and John Wilbye, and some of their greatest works appear in the concert, from Gibbons' melancholic The Silver Swan to Morley's appropriate and joyful Now is the month of maying.

After some quieter years, secular choral music in England underwent a revival among the Victorian-era composers, and the works of Hubert Parry, Robert Pearsall, Charles Villiers Stanford, Arthur Sullivan and Charles Wood have entered the canon of the favourite part-songs. Stanford's The Bluebird is a particular gem with its soprano solo hovering over the alto, tenor and bass-voices below. Finally, the folk-song revival under Vaughan Williams led to some of his most sumptuous work, and his arrangement of the Turtle Dove will also be performed.

We must hope that May brings better weather than so far in 2013 but, regardless, if you attend on the 2nd May, we will enjoy an hour of stunning choral music, followed by a glass of something thoroughly refreshing in the Figure Court of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Tickets are £14 in advance (£11 for concessions and Friends) or £15 on the door (£12 for concessions and Friends).

If you would like to buy tickets to the performance at the Royal Hospital please visit our website. If you are eligible for a concession or Friends discount, please call us on 020 7881 5324 or email boxoffice@chelsea-pensioners.org.uk

You can also find out more about the London English Song Festival.

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