Saturday, 25th March, 2017 at 7:30pm, St James Church Muswell Hill, London N10

(Please note that this concert has now taken place.)

We begin our 40th Anniversary year with a performance of a piece which is becoming a 21st-century classic. Jonathan Dove’s The Passing of the Year is a song cycle for double choir which explores the progression of the seasons in parallel with the seasons of human life. Dove has set texts by William Blake, Emily Dickinson, George Peel, Thomas Nashe and Alfred Lord Tennyson on nature, birth, death and regeneration. We hope our performance of this vibrant and atmospheric piece, which we will be giving in the composer’s arrangement for two pianos and percussion, will prove to be a popular and exciting event.

In the composer’s own words: The seven poems that I have set in The Passing of the Year make up three ‘movements’. The first looks forward to summer, beginning with a line from Blake (‘O Earth, O Earth return!’). ‘The narrow bud’ comes from Blake’s To Autumn, but is a description of summer; the rapid questions of ‘Answer July’ suggest the quickening senses, the excitement of everything bursting into life, and summer’s triumphant arrival. The second section follows the passing of summer. It begins in sultry heat, with a song from the opening scene of David and Bethsabe (‘Hot sun, cool fire’): a girl bathing in a spring feels the power and danger of her beauty. The section ends with the sense of mortality the Autumn brings: ‘Adieu! Farewell earth’s bliss’, from Summer’s Last Will and Testament, heralds the death of summer. The cycle ends in winter, on New Year’s Eve with a passage from Tennyson’s In Memoriam.

The Dove will be complemented by a group of English part-songs about the seasons which includes John Alcock’s Soon as the genial Spring, Elgar’s As torrents in summer and John Rutter’s Blow, blow, thou winter wind as well as pieces by Arthur Sullivan and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

Completing the concert are pieces which feature the two pianos that we will be hiring especially for the occasion. Brahms composed two sets of waltzes for vocal ensemble and piano duet and we will be performing a selection of movements from Liebeslieder Op 52 and Neue Liebeslieder Op 65. Although probably composed for domestic use, these delightful Ländler-style settings of folk and romantic poetry quickly became part of the standard choral repertoire. Covering every emotion from frustration to bliss, these delightful miniatures are guaranteed to charm you.

Largely because of his success as an opera composer, Jonathan Dove is often compared with Britten, who was a great admirer of Brahms, so it seemed fitting to complete the programme with one more dance in ¾ time, Britten’s haunting Mazurka Elegaica for two pianos, performed by our accompanist, Catherine Borner and guest pianist John Flinders.

Jonathan Dove - The Passing of the Year
Brahms - Liebeslieder Op 52 and Neue Liebeslieder Op 65 (excerpts)
Partsongs by Alcock, Elgar, Coleridge-Taylor, Sullivan and Rutter
Murray Hipkin – conductor
Catherine Borner & John Flinders - piano
Saturday 25th March at 7.30 pm
St James Church, Muswell Hill, N10 3DB

Tickets available online at
Prices: £22 - £18 - £10 (concessions £2 reduction)

Tickets are also available from any member of the choir or in person only from:
Les Aldrich Music Shop
98 Fortis Green Road
Muswell Hill, N10 3HN
and from the church bookshop.