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"Eastern Pictures"

Louise Thomson (harp) and the Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)

Music for eight upper voices and harp.

Performances by voices and harp are rarely heard beyond Britten’s wonderful Ceremony of Carols, despite how effective Britten shows this pairing to be in his famous work. This rich and varied programme offers a wide array of musical styles and moods, showcasing the broad range of excellent music that is available to this combination.

Between about 1900 and 1915, Gustav Holst went through a phase of intense interest in the religious literature and poetry of India. His encounters with texts such as the Rig Veda (a set of over 1000 devotional hymns dating from around 1500 BC) led him to enrol at UCL to study Sanskrit so that he could produce his own translations designed for musical setting. His Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, with their evocative realisations of texts in praise of various Vedic deities, date from this period, as do his Two Eastern Pictures.

Holst’s grandfather and great-grandfather were both well-known harp teachers, and so it is no surprise that he wrote so well for the instrument. This family history is presumably also what drew Gustav’s daughter, Imogen, to the harp and informed its skilful deployment in her song cycle, Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow, six short and atmospheric settings of words by John Keats.

Louise Thomson HarpThis selection of works from the Holst family sits alongside other items conceived specifically for voices and harp by Josef Rheinberger and living composers Hilary Campbell, John Hearne and Olivia Sparkhall. The programme also contains solo harp items and music for unaccompanied voices by Gustav Holst and Amy Beach.

Josef Rheinberger – Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen
Gustav Holst – Two Eastern Pictures
Hilary Campbell – Our endless day
Esther Swift – Time Spinner (harp solo)
Amy Beach – Dusk in June (choir only)
Imogen Holst – Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow
Gustav Holst – Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda: Third Group
Marcel Grandjany – Rhapsodie (harp solo)
Olivia Sparkhall – Lux aeterna
Gustav Holst – Ave Maria (choir only)
John Hearne – Alba
Further proposals
A feast of Bach!
Rachel Podger (violin) and the Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)
Music from the Bach family
Rachel Podger (violin) and the Corvus Consort (vocal ensemble)
Renaissance Symbolism: Music and Astronomy
Corvus Consort
Programmes for Lent: Reproaches, Lamentation and Penitence
Corvus Consort
An improvisatory exploration of Renaissance soundworlds
Corvus Consort, Corvus Consort and Music on the Edge
Revoiced: Baroque music for choir and saxophones
Corvus Consort, Corvus Consort and Ferio Saxophone Quartet, Ferio Saxophone Quartet
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