We are delighted to announce that this year’s IGS event will now take place on Saturday 23rd October at Wolfson College, Oxford. In addition ot the AGM the event will include talks and a English Song recital given by Andrew Randall (baritone) and Eric McElroy (pianist).
The afternoon will conclude an interview between Dame Hermione Lee and Dr Kate Kennedy about the latter’s new biography of Ivor Gurney, Dweller in Shadows.
2.30 pm – AGM
3.15 pm – Talk – ‘Gurney and the Archive’ with Professor Tim Kendall and Dr Philip Lancaster
3.45 pm – Song Recital with Andrew Randall (baritone) and Eric McElroy (piano). Their programme will include a selection of newly edited songs composed while Gurney was in the Dartford asylum together with some of his most well-known songs.
4.45 pm – Tea – Dr Kate Kennedy will be available to sign copies of her book.
5.30 pm – Interview – Dame Hermione Lee talks to Dr Kate Kennedy about her new biography of Ivor Gurney ‘Dweller in Shadows’ IGS members are cordially invited to this special event arranged as part of Wolfson College’s Weinrebe Lecture Series.
End – 6.45 pm.
Tickets for the day’s event are £15 each for adults and £5 for students (including afternoon tea). Although the Booking Form is included with the latest society Newsletter advance tickets can also be obtained by sending a cheque (made payable to the Ivor Gurney Society) to Mr Ian Venables, 2 Turrall St, Worcester WR38AJ. As this event is ticketless, if you require confirmation please include a SAE with your cheque.
Venue: Wolfson College is located 30 minutes’ walk from Oxford city centre, at the end of Linton Road, off Banbury Road. Post code: OX2 6UD and Tel: 01865 274100. For further information please follow this websire link: https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/visiting
‘Dweller in Shadows’ – A life of Ivor Gurney
by Kate Kennedy
“Kate Kennedy has written a wonderful book, the first comprehensive account of one of Britain’s most misunderstood poets and composers. A keen-eyed critic and literary commentator, she also proves herself a consummate storyteller, piecing out and pulling together the episodes of Gurney’s remarkable life and work in flowing, compelling chapters, producing a biography worthy of the thoughtful recognition and generous appraisal that Gurney had hoped for.” Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate
The Ivor Gurney Society is proud to present the keenly awaited and acclaimed new biography of the life of Ivor Gurney by Dr Kate Kennedy.
SPECIAL OFFER TO IGS MEMBERS
Princton University Press is delighted to be able to offer members of the Ivor Gurney Society Dweller in Shadows: A Life of Ivor Gurney by Kate Kennedy at a 30% discount for a limited time. Dr Kennedy presents the first comprehensive biography of this extraordinary and misunderstood artist. Drawing on extensive archival research and spanning literary criticism, history, psychiatry and musicology, this compelling narrative sets Gurney’s life and work against the backdrop of the war and his institutionalisation, probing the links between madness, suffering and creativity. Facing death in the trenches, Gurney hoped that history might not “forget me quite.” This definitive account of his life and work helps ensure that he will indeed be remembered.
Although the book’s official publication date is the 15th June 2021 IGS members will be able to purchase it in advance by visiting Princeton University Press’s website. PLEASE CLICK HERE to order your copy of ‘Dweller in Shadows’ at a 30% discount (postage and packing costs will be added at point of purchase). Princeton University Press website: press.princeton.edu
N.B Please use the THE SPECIAL OFF CODE: DWE21 at the checkout to redeem your offer. Offer available until 30 November 2021.
‘Proud Songsters’ – English Song CD from King’s College, Cambridge
This collection of 20 songs – familiar and lesser known – are performed by some of the finest former members of the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge: Lawrence Zazzo, Ruairi Bowen, James Gilchrist , Andrew Staples, Gerald Finley , Ashley Riches , Mark Stone, accompanied by pianist Simon Lepper.
In addition to Ivor Gurney’s song, ‘I will go with my father a-ploughing’ performed by Ashley Riches, this innovative CD features songs by Finzi, Vaughan Williams, Quilter, Britten, Bridge, Harper, Thiman, Denis Brownw, Dove, Clarke, Howells, Bell, Warlock.
Each of the nine alumni featured on this album sang as young adults at King’s, alongside pianist Simon Lepper, a graduate of King’s. The songs included on the album span settings of Shakespeare songs, those of prominent 20th Century composers Vaughan Williams, Britten, Finzi, Clarke and Howells through to contemporary works by Jonathan Dove, Iain Bell and Celia Harper. The album includes a specially-commissioned essay on the works by Stephen Banfield, and the CD includes a special bonus track sung by Gerald Finley and Christopher Keyte.
To purchase please click the following link: https://www.kingscollegerecordings.com/product/proud-songsters-english-solo-song/?v=79cba1185463
The English Music Festival – 31st May 2021
A concert performance of Ivor Gurney’s – ‘The Westland Playland’
St Marys Church, Causeway, Horsham
at 2.30 pm
This special concert is a rare opportunity to hear Gurney’s chamber song cycle. The cycle was recently recorded for CD and released on the EM label in an newly edition by Dr Philip Lancaster. This concert also features songs and quartets by Parry, Finzi, Delius and Holst and it will be followed by CD launch at 5pm in The Drill Hall, Denne Road, Horsham, RH121JF
The full Programme may be viewed at https://www.englishmusicfestival.org.uk/2021-may-festival/programme.php.
“Roads To Solace” – A concert of Ivor Gurney’s Songs and Poetry
Olivia Boen – soprano
Nigel Foster – piano
David Mildon – speaker
This concert was streamed live and can now be heard on YouTube by clicking the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIVC2NSSbBM&t=8s
This concert, given on the 15th December last year as part of the 2020 London Song Festival, was a celebration of the songs and poetry of Ivor Gurney. It featured performances of eight unpublished songs by Gurney, several of which have never been performed in public before, and a number of unpublished poems. Some of these have been edited by Ivor Gurney Society chairman Ian Venables, and others specially edited and prepared for this performance by Philip Lancaster, a leading authority on the works of Ivor Gurney and co-editor of the forthcoming complete edition of Gurney’s poetry to be published by OUP. These include works written while Gurney was a patient at the City of London Mental Hospital Dartford, and is a chance to re-evaluate this late work, much of which has been unfairly derided over the past century, but which actually is worthy to stand alongside Gurney’s greatest works in their beauty and sophistication. The programme also includes songs and poetry written in Gurney’s most productive period (1920-22), extracts from the Sappho Songs and from Ludlow and Teme, and songs by Finzi and John Jeffreys setting Gurney’s words, all describing his search for and finding solace in the countryside of his native Gloucestershire and in his work as a composer and poet.
Olivia Boen, soprano was one of the winners of the 2019 London Song Festival British Art Song Competition, kindly sponsored by the British Music Society. Olivia is an alumna of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Verbier Festival (singing under Valery Gergiev) and Steans Music Institute Ravinia.
A Commissioned Article for the February 2020 Newsletter
As already explained, there is no February newsletter this year. However, we would like to share with you, via the website, a significant main article that was commissioned for the February 2020 newsletter. It is the second article in the series, Focus on Ivor Gurney’s Poetry, and the author of the article is Jean Boase-Beier.
A Focus on ‘To His Love’
By Jean Boase-Beier,
Professor Emerita of Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia
To His Love
By Ivor Gurney
He’s gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We’ll walk no more on Cotswold
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.
His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn river
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.
You would not know him now …
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.
Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers—
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.
Ivor Gurney wrote ‘To His Love’ in several drafts between 1916 and 1918, perhaps initially in response to the news (which turned out to be erroneous) that his friend Will Harvey was missing (see Boden 2004: 135-6). The poem appeared in the book War’s Embers in 1919.
This short poem, written in 4 stanzas of 5 lines each, will shock even the casual reader with its contrast between the apparently gentle pastoral imagery of the first three stanzas and the brutal “red wet thing” in the penultimate line.
Yet, shocking as this contrast is, the horrible final image is prepared for from the start of the poem. The very first words “He’s gone” already suggest death, though they are ambiguous: the person being spoken about could, at this point, have gone to war, have been registered as missing in action, or be dead. The second and third stanzas are more specific: “His body … /Is not as you/ Knew it…” and “You would not know him now…”, but it is only in the final stanza that we are presented with that shocking image. The poem thus might be considered to reflect the thought processes of someone hearing that his friend is missing; the uncertainty about his fate does not prevent the mind from creating images of how his friend looks now.
So we could argue that this is a poem about what we think when we hear the news that someone is gone, and indeed there is a whole sequence of words and phrases to do with thinking throughout the poem: “plans”; “take no heed”; “knew it”; “not know”; “memoried”; “forget”. The final image is both a contrast to the pastoral scenes and the culmination of the thinker’s fears. The poem prepares us but it is still a shock. That is the logic of the poem.
A close reading of the poem tells us how its poetic style interacts with that logical sequence. There are various series of images, structures and sounds that run like threads through the poem, and that come together in the final stanza. Besides expressions of thinking and knowing, there is also a series of words to do with landscape: “Cotswold”; “sheep”; “Severn river”; “blue”; “small boat”; “violets”; “Severn side”; “flowers”. In the final stanza the flowers are not just those that grow in the speaker’s native countryside but they are “memoried”, an ambiguous word that suggests both that they are not real but in the mind (perhaps of his friend in battle) and also that they are real, and evoke memories.
Perhaps the most striking of these threads of meaning is to do with colours: “blue”; “violet”; “purple”; “red”. If blue suggests the river and the sky and the distant hills, purple suggests pride and nobility. However, if you split purple (or violet) into its component parts, one is the pastoral blue and the other is the red of brutal war. Thus the sequence reflects a particular mode of thought: purple might represent nobility but what it is covering up, if we look closely, is in part the blood of battle.
Another very striking pattern is the use of pronouns and possessives: “his”; “he’s”; “our”; “we’ll”; “his”; “you”; “our”; “you”; “him”; “he”; “him”; “him”. Far from providing clarity about the people involved in the poem’s world, the heavy employment of pronouns actually obfuscates: who is the “he” to whose love the poem is addressed? Is the “we” of “our plans” and “we’ll walk no more” an exclusive one (just the speaker and “he”) or an inclusive one (to take in the person addressed)? Or does it include everyone, in a landscape seen differently after the losses of war? It has been suggested (e.g. by Rawling 2011: 104) that “his love” is Sarah Kane, whom Will Harvey later married. Yet the general sense, when first reading the poem, is that the pronouns create ambiguity. There are various reasons a poet might do this: to express feelings obliquely by attributing them to a third person, or to suggest that this uncertainty of love, regret and anguish is being played out many times over in other places.
There are also many patterns of sound and layout: a regular arrangement of shorter and longer lines, a regular rhythm, and a regular rhyme scheme, intensified by linked internal rhymes. Thus, for example, in the first stanza, “indeed” at the end of line 2 not only rhymes with end-rhymes “feed” (line 4) and “heed” (line 5), but also stands in a relation of assonance (or partial rhyme) to “sheep” within line 3. This pattern is repeated in each stanza: end-rhymes “you”; “blue”; “through” in stanza 2 are supplemented by internal “knew”, “died”; “pride”; “side” in stanza 4 by the internal assonance with “violets”, and, in the final stanza, “set”; “wet”; “forget” by the internal assonance with “red” .
The repeated rhymes and assonances are supplemented further by many instances of alliteration, such as “we’ll walk”, “pride / Purple”; “Severn side”; “masses of memoried”, and by eye-rhymes “know – now”; “cover – over”, which cannot be heard, but stand out on the page.
The dense patterns of repeated sounds serve on the one hand to link particular words and images: because the end-rhyme “you” is followed immediately by the first word of the next line “knew”, the effect is to emphasise what “you knew”, and to contrast it with both what you “know … now” and what I “must somehow forget”. And “quick” is linked to the alliterating “quietly” of the previous line, emphasising the contrast between the unheeding sheep and the body that was “quick”, that is, alive. On the other hand, repeated sounds also suggest the repetition of obsessive thoughts and of the image of his dead friend that the speaker cannot forget.
This dense web of repeated sounds, underlining the repetitive images, creates a feeling of claustrophobic panic at odds with the Cotswold scenery. For the inner and outer worlds clash. The description of the inner world culminates in the final two lines “Hide that red wet / Thing I must somehow forget”, a point sometimes called “the eye of the poem” (see Boase-Beier 2009). This is the point in a poem where patterns come together, and it forms a vantage-point for the rest. In the speaker’s mind his friend has been reduced to a “thing”, for all that he has just been referred to directly with “he” or “his” eight times. The shockingly graphic “red wet thing” not only picks up “blue” and “purple”, but also echoes “set” and “forget”. The pronoun “I” in the final line is the first mention of the poem’s speaker and shifts the focus from the friend and his love to what is in the speaker’s mind. And the final word “forget” is not only a repetition of sound but it also contrasts with the earlier “knew” and “know” to suggest that the very obsessiveness of the repeated sounds and images will make the attempt to forget a vain one.
The switch in these final two lines is, then, from landscape to mind, from memories invested in the landscape to dreadful imaginings. Style and substance interact closely so that the reader, too, is unable to forget what has just been read. Harvey was not dead. But the shock of thinking him so persists for the speaker, and it persists for the reader.
Jean Boase-Beier, 2020
Boase-Beier, J. (2009) ‘Translating the Eye of the Poem’, CTIS Occasional Papers 4, 1-15.
Boden, A. (2004) Stars in a Dark Night: The Letters of Ivor Gurney to the Chapman Family, Stroud: Sutton Publishing.
Rawling, E. (2011) Ivor Gurney’s Gloucestershire: Exploring Poetry and Place, Stroud: The History Press.
Jean Boase-Beier is Professor Emerita of Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia, and a translator and editor of poetry. Translations include collections by modern German poets Rose Ausländer (2014) and Volker von Törne (2017) for Arc Publications, for whom she has recently co-edited Poetry of the Holocaust: An Anthology (2019). Her academic work focuses on poetic style, translation, and Holocaust writing. Recent academic publications include Translating the Poetry of the Holocaust (Bloomsbury, 2015), Translation and Style (Routledge, 2020) and the co-edited volumes Translating Holocaust Lives (Bloomsbury, 2017) and The Palgrave Handbook of Literary Translation (2018).
OUP have just published ‘Ivor Gurney:The Complete Poetical Works, Volume 1’ by Philip Lancaster and Tim Kendall. You may click HERE for further details.
This year’s AGM will be held at Wolfson College, Oxford. Following the AGM there will be a lecture and song recital given by the distinguished scholar, writer and broadcaster Dr Kate Kennedy together with baritone Andrew Randall and pianist Eric McElroy. This sepcial event end with dinner at the college.
Further details will be posted in our next Newsletter.
The Royal Forest of Dean Orcehstra presnt a programme of music by the composers of Gloucestershire, including Vaughan Williams, Holst and Gurney.
St Michael’s Church, Twigworth to close on December 15th December 2019
It is with great sadness that we have to announce that St Michael’s Church, Twigworth is to close this month.
The parish church of Twigworth was consecrated in 1844. Ivor Gurney was buried in the churchyard on Friday, 31st of December 1937. Here is a description adapted from Pamela Blevin’s book Ivor Gurney and Marion Scott – Song of Pain and Beauty.
“At three o’clock Canon Alfred Cheeseman, vicar and Gurney’s godfather, together with fifty mourners gathered inside the church, which still bore festive Christmas holly.
The service opened with the 23rd Psalm and prayers. Herbert Howells played Gurney’s ‘Sleep’ and ‘Severn Meadows’ on the organ along with Elgar’s ‘Angel’s Farewell and a 14th century French chanson that Ivor liked. Ivor’s coffin was carried outside where, under cold grey skies Alfred Cheeseman read the committal service. Marion Scott, in tears at the end, took several photographs of the flowers covering the grave. Her own wreath read, ‘in loving and unchanging memory of Ivor Gurney’. Mourners included his sister, Winifred, brother Ronald with his wife Ethel, Gerald and Joy Finzi and the Vaughan Williamses”. Next to Gurney’s grave is that of Michael Howells, son of the composer Herbert Howells, who died in 1935 of polio aged nine. Howells later wrote a hymn tune entitled Twigworth for the hymn “God is love, let heaven adore him”, one of two hymn tunes he composed in memory of his son (the other being Michael — “All my hope on God is founded”).
Following a decision by the Diocese of Gloucester, St Matthew’s Church is to be closed to public worship and the parish of Twigworth dissolved.
We have been notified of the following which may be of interest.
Three Choirs Festival
Violinist Madeleine Mitchell revives a trio of unpublished works by famed Gloucestershire composer Ivor Gurney and gives us a rare chance to hear Grace Williams’ lyrical Sonata, alongside a varied selection of works written specially for Madeleine, including the world premiere of a lively new suite by Robert Saxton. The programme also includes works by Howells, James Macmillan and Ian Venables.
July 28 2019, 4.00pm
St Catharine’s Church
Click HERE to book tickets.
We have been notified of the following which may be of interest.
We have been notified of the following which may be of interest.
Sabrinensis wish to invite you to their midsummer concert, remembering the Gloucestershire poet Will Harvey, at 11.00am on Saturday 22nd June 2019 in Cranham Church.
And There Grow Flowers …
Remembering Will Harvey: Poet, singer, comrade and champion of justice for the poor. Laureate of Gloucestershire and friend of Ivor Gurney
Cranham Handbell Ringers
Gaudeamus Youth Strings
Accompanist: James Quinn
Conductor: Judith Sheridan
Supported by Mrs Ewart James
This is a preview of a the concert to be performed in Minsterworth Church on the morning of 2ndAugust as part of this year’s Gloucester Three Choirs Festival.
Tickets £10 by email from [email protected], by phone on 07881-621201 or on door.
A glass of Gloucestershire Perry included after the concert.
Bring a picnic (inside if wet) and join us after lunch on a circular walk to Painswick Beacon.
On Painswick Beacon
Here lie counties five in a waggon wheel.
There quick Severn like a silver eel
Wriggles through pastures green and pale stubble.
There, sending up its quiet coloured bubble
Of earth, May Hill flats on a flaming sky.
And, marvelling at all, forgetting trouble,
Here – home again – stand I!
We have been notified of the following which nay be of interest.
Ledbury Poetry Festival, 5th-14th July 2019
Please click HERE to download a full programme.
IGS Annual Spring Event in association with The Arthur Bliss Society
Saturday 11th May, 2019
Ivor Gurney Hall, King’s School, Gloucester
AGM -12 noon – Ivor Gurney Hall, King’s School, Gloucester
12.30 -1.30 pm Buffet Lunch (St John’s Northgate Church Hall)
3pm – Concert of English Music and Song with the acclaimed Carducci String Quartet, Andrew Randall (baritone) and Eric McElroy (piano)
This special concert will include a rare opportunity to hear Ivor Gurney’s Chamber Song Cycle,
‘The Westland Playland’ in a newly revised edition by Philip Lancaster, Bliss’ First String Quartet and Ian Venables’ The Song of the Severn (2nd UK performance)
5 pm – Tea at St John’s Northgate Church Hall.
5.30 pm – End
Advanced tickets for Society members are priced £18 (concert only plus tea only ) and £23 ( Concert plus lunch (Sandwich Box) and tea). Please send a cheque (made payable to the Ivor Gurney Society) including a stamped addressed envelope to Mr Ian Venables, 2 Turrall Street, Worcester, WR3 8AJ.
For advanced concert tickets (non Society members) please send a cheque for £18 (including a stamped addressed envelope) made payable to The Arthur Bliss Society to the Secretary, Sue Crownshaw, Birchwood, Broadway Rd, Winchcombe, GL54 5JN. Tel: 01242 603318 or email: [email protected]
SEE SPRING NEWSLETTER FOR FURTHER DETAILS
We have been notified of the following production, which may be of interest:
“Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-Sort”
This is being presented on four consecutive Sundays at 4.00pm at the Kings Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington,N1 1QN on the following dates:
10th, 17th, 24th February and 4th March 2019
The Hertfordshire Chorus accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra will be performing a concert at 7.30pm on 20 October 2018 at Watford Colosseum, and the music will include Ivor Gurney’s A Gloucestershire Rhapsody. This programme, which will also be recorded for later broadcast, is to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.
Click HERE for further details.
We have been notified of the following event which may be of interest to members:
Britten Sinfonia – ‘The Last Letter’ – St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich – Thursday 8th November, Barbican Hall, London – Friday 9th November and Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, Saturday 10th November.
Jonathan McGovern baritone
Thomas Gould violin/director
To commemorate the end of the Great War Britten Sinfonia premiere a new arrangement of Nico Muhly’s poignant The Last Letter as part of a compelling and dramatic evening of music and words.
Gurney The Western Playland
Ravel Le tombeau de Couperin
Nico Muhly The Last Letter (world premiere of orchestral version)
Barber Adagio for strings
and poetry and letters by Mary Borden, Vera Brittain, Ivor Gurney and Wilfred Owen. Devised by Dr Kate Kennedy, with a pre-concert talk from Dr Kennedy at 6.30pm, discussing the programme of the concert (free to ticket holders).
Tickets range from £10-35. Go to our website to book tickets: www.brittensinfonia.com
We have been notified of the following production, which may be of interest:
“Author, Composer, Soldier-of-a-Sort”
This is being presented in Edinburgh between the 1st – 27th August 2018.
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 – https://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, [email protected], 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: https://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