Mary Bevan 1

Gallery of Memories

27 October 2023, 1:00pm - 2:00pm

The Music: Gabriel Fauré’s cycle La bonne Chanson is a radiant masterpiece, by turns profound and exuberant. It is heard alongside a new work by Roxanna Panufnik, co-commissioned with the Presteigne Festival, with words by Jessica Duchen. Roxanna Panufnik’s and Jessica Duchen’s recent collaboration,The Silver Birch, for Garsington Opera, was hailed by Classical Source as a work that ‘embodies the power of music to transform lives’.

The Artists: Mary Bevan is one of today’s most exciting singers, hailed as ‘simply spectacular’, and a former winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist Award. She is joined by leading pianist Anna Tilbrook, following a memorable recital together at Spring Song 2022.

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Notes on the Programme


Music: Roxanna Panufnik / Words: Jessica Duchen

Around 20 years before I received this wonderful co-commission, from Presteigne and Oxford Festivals, my friend and librettist Jessica Duchen sent me some of her poems. I’ve been waiting all this time for an opportunity to set them and Oxford Lieder Festival’s 2023 theme of the Visual Arts provided the perfect context, especially as I could see and hear so much colour when reading them.

Jessica has cleverly created a highly evocative narrative. This song cycle’s story is about preserving something that’s otherwise gone forever, which paintings, poetry and music can all achieve. Our heroine, touring an art gallery, leaves the official itinerary to explore a long-ago relationship through four paintings she encounters, imagining that she is stepping into a different time and place. 'Raindrop Prelude' evokes the awakening of love, which soon proves dangerous (‘Playing with Fire’); one or both of them ran away (’Tarantella’), but even now she treasures a transfigured, idealised image (’Neptune’). Each poem is prefaced with an introduction as she walks between the pictures.

I’m hugely grateful to George Vass (Presteigne) and Sholto Kynoch (Oxford Lieder) for commissioning this and to Jessica for her continuing inspiration.

© Roxanna Panufnik (2023)

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13 October 2023 | 11:00am

Art:Song - Images, Words, Music

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