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14. Songs of the Zodiac: Robin Tritschler & Graham Johnson

12 October 2020, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

The outstanding Irish tenor Robin Tritschler and the ‘peerless song accompanist’ (Daily Telegraph) Graham Johnson bring a fascinating programme that forges numerous ‘connections across time’. 

They begin with Benjamin Britten’s arrangement of the gently profound Bist du bei mir (usually ascribed to Bach, though it is actually by Gottfried Stölzel), introducing a set of songs linked by contemplations of faith. Ahead of our closing night Schwanengesang, they reach across Schubert's own lifetime to his earliest song cycle Einsamkeit, a setting of Johann Mayrhofer. The image in this of the young novice contemplating his whole life in a monastic cell brings Barber's Hermit Songs instantly to mind, though while Schubert might well have requested a text from his friend Mayrhofer, Barber chose to set centuries old texts; a very different connection across time.

The following group of American songs mimic the Hermit Songs as they reach across distance and time to set older European poetry, from the Elizabethan Age onwards. A note by the composer accompanying Ives’s ‘Ich grolle nicht’ highlights the dilemma facing later composers: if they are moved by a certain text which had already been set successfully by past composers, in this case Schumann and Franz, should they even try to reset it? Ives obviously thought so.

Finally, in Geoffrey Bush’s Songs of the Zodiac, the concepts of time and faith are combined in a cosmic calendar. Bush was a notable composer of songs through much of the 20th century, songs that are gradually and rightly entering the canon. These songs also bring us full circle within this recital. As Bach proved a muse for Britten, Britten (and Pears) in turn inspired Bush: Bush, writing in 1989, dedicated this set of songs to the memory of Britten and Pears.

This concert will be streamed completely live from the Holywell Music Room. Shortly afterwards, it will also be available to watch again (using the same ticket and link) until 1 November 2020. Click here for further information on how tickets will work this year.

This event will be presented by Katy Hamilton.


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  • Rebecca Clarke (1886 - 1979)
  • A Dream (1893) Op. 8 no.5
  • Dominick Argento (1927 - 2019)
  • Spring from Six Elizabethan Songs

10 October 2020 | 10:00am

Connections Across Time - A Brief History of Song

Previous Event
13. Ian Bostridge in conversation
12 October 2020, 11:00am - 12:00pm
Next Event
15. Mendelssohn and the Jewish Enlightenment
12 October 2020, 3:00pm - 4:00pm

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