Metaphysical Musings

Viva Voce has come up another award-winning programme for its concert at Upper Chapel this coming Saturday, the 14th of March.

Entitled A Mosaic of the Air: Music of Love & Loss from the Metaphysical Poets (and associates), it runs a gamut of styles and composers – and Elizabethan-age poets (two slightly later) of abstract persuasion!

So caught up by the idea was the chamber choir: “We enlisted the expertise of Dr Emma Rathigan of Sheffield University (Early Modern Religious Writing; Sermons; John Donne) to enhance our understanding of the metaphysics to aid new insights into performance interpretation,” says Tony Jones who directs the concert.

The poets, followed by composers who were inspired by their words, are: John Donne – Parry: At the round earth’s imagined corners; William Henry Harris (1883-1973): Bring us, O Lord God and No noise nor silence, but one equal music; and Britten: The Holy Sonnets of John Donne – selection.

George Herbert – Judith Weir: Love bade me welcome – a cappella arrangement of No 1 from Two Human Hymns 1994. Andrew Marvell – Lloyd Pfautsch (1921-2003): Musick’s Empire from ‘Triptych’ for the State College of Arkansas 1968.

Henry Vaughan – Parry: My soul, there is a country; Finzi: Welcome Sweet and Sacred Feast Op 27 No 3. Edward Taylor – from ‘Sacramental Meditations’, Finzi: My lovely one Op 27 No 1 and God is gone up Op 27 No 2. Francis Quarles – Richard Rodney Bennett: A Good Night.

Plus, and presumably these are the ‘associates’, four tobacco-related pieces by Dowland: Can she excuse my wrongs; Michael East: O Metaphysical Tobacco; Tobias Hume Tobacco No 3 of Musicall Humours (1605); and contemporary Finnish composer Jaakko Mӓntyjӓrvi: Smoking Can Kill (Modern Madrigal No 3).

And there is some ‘complimentary repertoire’ by Vaughan Williams Songs of Travel – a selection; and Jonathan Dove: Into thy hands (two prayers of St Edmund).

Apparently, some members of the choir are threatening to be idiosyncratically dressed to represent poets throughout the ages – so, not just the metaphysical variety! and the madrigalesque tobacco repertoire will be set at a ‘tavern’ celebrating and decrying its recreational uses.


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