IVOR GURNEY – ‘High above Gloucester and the Severn Plain’
A two-day conference sponsored by themusicalbrain.org
14th and 15th September 2018 to be held at
The Ivor Gurney Hall, Gloucester, GL1 2BH
In a two-day celebration of Ivor Gurney’s life and art, the writer and broadcaster Stephen Johnson and the Gurney scholar will lead a series of walks, talks, discussions and poetry readings in Gloucester and the surrounding countryside. Other speakers include: Dr Philip Lancaster, Professor Tim Kendall, Ian Venables, and Nicola Harrison.
Each day will include a performance of the music of Gurney and his contemporaries, with James Gilchrist, tenor, Anna Tilbrook,piano, Michael Craddock, baritone and The Bridge String Quartet.
FOR THE FULL PROGRAMME AND TICKET INFORMATION PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW
Spring Weekend Photographs
Forthcoming Events and News
Ivor Gurney’s song cycle The Western Playland, originally published by Steiner and Bell is currently being prepared for publication, revised and edited by Dr Philip Lancaster. The Ivor Gurney Trust in association with the Society have recently published Gurney’s motet, Since I believe in God the Father. The score can now be purchased online at the SHOP on the Society’s website. The motet was recorded on the CORO label last year by the acclaimed choral ensemble The Sixteen and it has recently been recorded by Tenebra to be released on CD in the Autumn. The disc will include both Finzi’s orchestration of Gurney’s Five Elizabethan Songs and Herbert Howells’ orchestration of In Flanders and By a Bierside sung by Sarah Connolly.
Forthcoming concerts featuring Gurney’s music include; this year’s English Music Festival held at Dorchester upon Thames on the 25th May. One of the highlights of the festival will be a performance of Gurney’s rarely performed song cycle The Western Playland given by the acclaimed baritone Roderick Williams, with the pianist Michael Dussek and The Bridge String Quartet. Further details can be founds on the EMF website.
This year’s Gloucester Music Festival, organised by our very own Sebastian Field will run from the 24th -30th June. I am pleased to say that the Society has sponsored one of the concerts that will feature Gurney’s songs.
This year saw the publication of a new book entitled The Coloured Counties written by Anthony Gibson. This attractively produced book explores the connection between Gurney and the Gloucestershire countryside. It is published by Fairfield books. Another exciting book that will be published in November by Cambridge University Press is entitled, ‘The Remembered Dead –Poetry, Memory and the first world War’. The author is Sally Minogue who some of you may remember was the society’s membership secretary for many years. Her book includes a section on Gurney’s war poetry.
One of the most important books published last year was by our founder chairman and our President Anthony Boden. His updated and revised edition of ‘The Three Choirs festival; A History’ has received excellent reviews, including Gramophone, who said “This handsome book will appeal particularly to British music enthusiasts”. You will not be surprised to hear that Ivor Gurney has a prominent write up. The actress and playwright Jan Carey has recently revived her original stage production entitled “Author, Composer, Soldier of a sort”. This sixty-minute presentation draws upon Gurney’s poetry, music and extracts from letters to bring his story to life. The show will be performed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
A two-day conference entitled, ‘Ivor Gurney – High Above Gloucester and the Severn Plain’. The conference will be held on the 14th and 15th September at today’s venue and it has been organised by Michael Pugh and Eleanor Rawling. The conference it will include guided poetry walk, discussions and talks by the BBC’s Stephen Johnson, Dr Kate Kennedy, Peter Parker and Dr Philip Lancaster. There will also be two recital programmes given by James Gilchrist, Anna Tilbrook and the Bridge String Quartet. FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT EVENT WILL BE POSTED HERE IN EARLY SEPTEMBER.
Annual Spring Weekend Event
Saturday 12th and 13th May 2018
The 2108 Spring Weekend took place at The Ivor Gurney Hall, King’s School, Gloucester.
12.30 – AGM
2 pm – ‘The Comedy of War’ – Professor Tim Kendall
2.30 – The Acquiescence of Fate’ – Dr Philip Lancaster
3.10 Tea – St John’s Northgate, Church Hall ( 3 min walk from the Ivor Gurney Hall)
3.45 – Recital
The the acclaimed Australian baritone, Michael Lampard together with and Divertimento String Quartet will present a programme of music including a performance of Gurney’s Molto in F for string quartet as well as a rare opportunity of hearing the recently reconstructed slow movt from Gurney’s 1925 string quartet. The programme will be interspersed with poetry readings given by Nicola Harrison.
4.45 – End
10.30 am – A Gurney Walk at Minsterworth led by Eleanor Rawling
Please meet at Minsterworth Church car park (GL2 8JJ, OS ref 774170)
This walk is about three miles in length and of gentle gradient.
Book Launch – The Coloured Counties – “Literary Landscapes of the Heart of England”
by Anthony Gibson
At 12 noon, Monday 9th October at Bredon Village Hall.
The book explores the relationship between great writers and the landscapes that inspired them, with the aim of enriching the experiences of readers and walkers alike. Its ‘heart of England’ consists of the counties of Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. Ivor Gurney features prominently.
The author will give a short presentation on the main themes of the book and how it came to be written. This will be followed by light lunch.
The book is being offered to IGS members at a generously reduced price of £16 (cover price £20)
Copies can be obtained from Fairfield Books, 17 George’s Rd, Bath BA1 6EY tel: 01225 335813.
Annual Spring Event with the Finzi Friends
Saturday 3rd June, 2017
At St Bartholomew’s Church and St Andrew’s Church Centre, Churchdown (GL3 2JT)
The Spring Weekend this year will be a joint event with the Finzi Friends and will feature a talk given in St Bartholomew’s Church on Chosen Hill, one of Gurney’s much loved places.
For the Ivor Gurney Society, Saturday begins with coffee (10.15am) and the AGM at 10.30am.
At 11.30 Dr Philip Lancaster will speak in St Bartholomew’s Church on Chosen Hill about The Anatomy of Gurney’s Chosen Hill. Note that there will be no access for audience members’ cars to St Bartholomew’s Church but transport will be available for all from St Andrew’s Car park.
The Centenary of Gurney’s “Severn Meadows” at Twigworth Church
Saturday 25th March 2017
A concert is being planned for the morning of Saturday 25th March 2017 at Twigworth Church entitled “Do not forget me quite…” to mark the Centenary of Gurney’s “Severn Meadows”. It is an appropriate location for the performance; not only is it in the area of the Severn Meadows but it is both the resting place of Ivor Gurney and Dorothy Howells, who was Dorothy Hawes when Gurney wrote it for her on the occasion of her engagement to Herbert Howells.
The concert provides the context for the writing of the poem in Caulaincourt in France in the Spring of 1917 and includes readings and poetry by Ivor Gurney, songs set by Gurney and settings of his poems by contemporary Gloucester composers Bartholomew Mason and Hugh Barton (including First Performances), and to set the scene includes music written for handbells and brass by Hugh Barton, Purcell’s Funeral Music for Queen Mary, Gabrieli’s Sonata Pian’e Forte and Malcolm Arnold’s John Clare Cantatas. The singers are a newly formed group “Sabrinensis” with the Cranham Handbell Ringers and Royal Oak Brass Quintet, all under the direction of Judith Sheridan”.
For further details and tickets please contact: peter -at- gcs -dot- me or tel. 07881-621201
John Phillips’ Death
We report the sad news that, following a short illness John Phillips died on the 13th September.
John was a great champion of Ivor Gurney and the driving force behind the idea to form a society. Together with founder members Anthony Boden and Kelsey Thornton the IGS was inaugurated in 1994. Over the past 22 years John worked tirelessly to promote Gurney’s cause. He served on the committee as the society’s Secretary for 10 years and as Treasurer for the same length of time, before becoming the Events Organiser. The society owes him a great debt of gratitude for all he did to bring the IGS to where it is today. He will be sadly missed.
The Australian Premiere of ‘A Gloucestershire Rhapsody’
The Australian Discovery Orchestra conducted by Kevin Purcell gave the Australian premiere of A Gloucestershire Rhapsody on August 14th. The ADO concerts are streamed globally from a non-public venue for an international audience, lasting approximately 50 minutes. If you would like to hear A Gloucestershire Rhapsody them please follow the link below. The concert also includes the premiere of Armstrong-Gibbs’ Third Symphony.
The Wordsmith’s Guide to English Song: Poetry, Music & Imagination Volume II: The Songs of Ivor Gurney
by Nicola Harrison
“… an invaluable aid to performers …they also shine a welcome light on master craftsmens of the genre…” Roger Vignoles
In her latest book Nicola Harrison examines the poetry and lyrics of Gurney’s songs, taking into account the context in which the words were written – the symbolism, mythologies, religion, philosophy, and many other influences on the writer. The book is primarily intended as a guide to Gurney’s most celebrated songs in order to stimulate the imagination of performers and enrich their interpretations.
This handsome book is beautifully illustrated and clearly laid out. It contains a rich source of biographical information and a detailed description of the poems that Gurney has set. The musical analysis is both lucid and accessible and brings fresh insights to Gurney’s creative processes.
The book is published by Compton Publishing and can be purchased by clicking on the following link – http://www.comptonpublishing.co.uk/Ivor-Gurney—Poetry-Music-and-Imagination.php
A Celebration of Walt Whitman in Words and Music at Kings Place.
6pm on Saturday 11th June, Hall One at Kings Place
90 York Way, London N1 9AG
This is thy hour, O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death, and the stars.
A Clear Night Sky by Walt Whitman
Pioneer of the open road, the big hearted wordsmith Walt Whitman has been set to music more than almost any other poet. Composers have returned again and again to his boundless ability to include the reader, and the listener, in a joyful riot of shared experience.
This concert will include a performance of Ivor Gurney’s setting of Whitman’s
Leading pianist Iain Burnside and the acclaimed tenor Nicky Spence perform some of the most famous settings of Whitman’s work by composers including Vaughan Williams, Charles Ives, Ivor Gurney, Craig Urquhart and Ned Rorem. In a discussion chaired by BBC Radio 3’s Lucie Skeaping they will also explore Whitman’s influence on composers, and investigate the broader relationship between poetry and song.
Annual Spring Weekend – Saturday 7th May
Held at St Andrew’s Church, Churchdown, Gloucester
This year’s IGS Annual event was very well-attended. Our guest speakers were the author and poet John Greening and Margi Blunden, daughter of Edmund Blunden.
The afternoon was rounded off by a splendid recital of violin and piano music given by Midori Komanchi and Simon Callaghan. This all British programme included the premiere of the slow movement of Gurney’s Sonata in F.
Sunday 8th May
Poetry walk led by Eleanor Rawling starting at The Black Horse Inn, Cranham (photos to follow)
Charlton Kings Choral Society Spring Concert
Saturday 21st May 2016, 7.30 pm
Holy Apostles Church, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham GL52 6HW
Maurice Duruflé – Requiem
John Wright – In Praise of Earth’s Beauty
Gabriel Fauré – Cantique de Jean Racine
Caroline Carragher (mezzo soprano)
Tom Hunt (bass)
Fiona Brown (organ)
John Wright (conductor)
The work ‘In Praise of Earth’s Beauty’, is written for the choir by the conductor, John Wright. The first movement is a setting of Gurney’s lovely poem ‘There was such beauty’. There are further strong Gloucestershire connections in the second movement, which combines Psalm 121, ‘I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills’, with words by F. W. Harvey, reflecting variously on the beauty of the Cotswolds and the tragedy of the First World War.
Tickets £15 (under 25s in full-time education £10)
01451 822110/01242 526636, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the door
The Codsall Community Arts Festival
Tuesday 15th March at 7.30 pm
Venue: St Nicholas Church, Church Lane, Codsall, WV8 1EH
The Klee String Quartet (from the Birmingham Conservatoire) are giving a recital of quartet music Purcell and Ligeti. Their recital will include Ivor Gurney’s rarely performed three movement string quartet in A.
Tickets priced £10 can be obtained in advance from Mrs Janice Sear, 10 Bromley Gdns, Codsall WV8 1BE. Cheques to be made payable to “Codsall Community Arts Festival”.
Booking opens: 16th February
Recent News and Past Events
‘Author, Composer, Soldier of a Sort’
by Jan Carey
Sunday 1st November at 4:30 pm.
At the Omnibus – the ‘Old Clapham Library’ building at 1, Clapham Common Northside, SW4 0QW. Tickets | £15 | £12 concessions
This showcase of the songs, poetry and letters of the relatively unknown genius Ivor Gurney – “the English Schubert” – celebrates his relationship with his beloved Gloucestershire and with Marion Scott, to whom he wrote most frequently from the trenches, and to whom he sent his music and poetry, written with mortars flying overhead. The first female music critic and a champion for the equality of women musicians, it was she who collected his work and was the instigator of their publication and performance. Though they came from very different backgrounds – she from a wealthy London family and he a son of a Gloucester tailor of modest means – they forged a friendship that withstood war, illness, despair, madness, joy and triumph. An earlier version of “Author, Composer, Soldier of a Sort” was given at The Orange Tree, Richmond and sold out twice in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre.
With acclaimed young tenor Thomas Hobbs as Ivor Gurney, pianist Andrew-John Smith, and Jan Carey, who also wrote and compiled the show, as Marion Scott.
JAN CAREY Trained at the GSM&D. In the West End: Spring and Port Wine, The Cherry Orchard, Pygmalion. Outside London theatres include: Sheffield, Canterbury, Birmingham, the Citizens Glasgow, the Abbey Theatre Dublin. Her extensive television appearances range from I Claudius to Downton Abbey.
Author, Composer, Soldier of a sort, is her first venture into writing/compiling.
Meet the Author – Richard Pike, author of “Do Not Forget Me Quite” will be appearing at Cheltenham Library on Wednesday 7th October 7.30pm.
Richard will be reading extracts from his novel illustrated with musical examples from Gurney’s music. Free tickets from Library 01242 5325686. Refreshments provided.
Premiere of Ivor Gurney’s Anthem ‘God Mastering Me’
This was given by the the choir of Gloucester Cathedral, conducted by Adrian Partington on Sunday 20th September at 3pm. The Anthem, God Mastering Me is one of only three completed choral works by Ivor Gurney – the others being The Trumpet – a setting of an Edward Thomas poem and the motet, Since I believe to words by Robert Bridges. The text for God Mastering Me is the first stanza of Gerald Manley Hopkins’ famous poem, The Wreck of The Deutschland, that opens with the lines, ‘Thou mastering me/ God! Giver of breath and bread’. The anthem was composed between 1921-22, while Gurney was living at Longford in Gloucester. There is no record of any performance being given during his lifetime and until recently the work has remained in manuscript, held in the Gloucestershire archives. This short anthem has been typeset and edited for performance by the Ivor Gurney Trust.
Two New CD Releases Featuring the Music and Poetry of Ivor Gurney.
“The Premiere CD Recording of Ivor Gurney’s ‘Cello Sonata”
The society’s sponsored recording of Ivor Gurney’s ‘Cello Sonata is now available on CD from EM Records. Writing for the Birmingham Post, Christopher Morley said “This is a lovely release… CBSO cellist Richard Jenkinson and Benjamin Frith, his adept pianist partner, perform this all-English programme with insight and affection. Cyril Scott’s Sonata seems impossibly out of time for its 1958 date (though his tiny Lullaby which concludes this generous disc could fit beautifully into any programme), but the Ivor Gurney Sonata, a gripping single movement communicates urgently, empathetically conveyed by this duo…” And Rob Barnett writing for Musicweb International commented, “…this short single movement rhapsodic Sonata is rife with Gurney fingerprints. This includes especially the luminous piano writing which often recalls that for the two chamber ensemble song-cycles, Ludlow and Teme and The Western Playland…”
This is a must have CD for all Gurney enthusiasts. It can now be purchased from EM Records. Please click the following link: http://www.em-records.com/discs/emr-cd031-details.html
The Moon Sails Out
Cyril SCOTT (1879-1970)
Cello Sonata (1958)
Ian VENABLES (b.1955)
At Malvern op. 24a
Elegy op. 2
The Moon Sails Out op. 42
Poem op. 29
Ivor GURNEY (1890-1937)
Cello Sonata in E minor (1921)
Lullaby op. 57 no. 2
‘The Song of the Severn’ – Song cycles and Songs
by Ian Venables
“Convincing and Yearning” – Andrew Clements, The Guardian
This new CD includes the premiere recording of ‘The Pine Boughs Past Music’ – settings of poems by Ivor Gurney and Leonard Clark, commissioned by the Gloucester Music Society. “…Ian Venables’ music is unashamedly rooted in the English pastoral tradition. With their gently arcing diatonic melodies, spiced by the occasional passing dissonance, and meticulous attention to the detail of every word of the English poetry they use, the most obvious model for Venables’ songs seems to be Gerald Finzi. But there are cadences, too, of composers from earlier in the 20th century, such as George Butterworth and, especially, Ivor Gurney, on whom Venables has done a great deal of valuable research…The Pine Boughs Past Music is a touching memorial to Gurney, using three of his poems as well as well an epitaph for him by Leonard Clark. Andrew Clements
This CD is available to IGS members at a special 25% Discount from Signum Records.
Please follow the link below and enter the code malvern2015