Midsummer Madness

Late Midsummer Madness meets Midsomer Murder, they say, in an afternoon of bacchanalian excess and escapism going under the title of a Cornucopia of Delights.

The post-solstice mayhem comes courtesy of Viva Voce chamber choir at the David Mellor Visitor Centre and Design Museum in Hathersage on the 2nd of July.

Like the choir’s recent trawl through matters metaphysical it is, nevertheless, another appealing prospect – and it’s free!

It looks as if proceedings will be in three slots with a break between each to promenade round the grounds, imbibe a free glass of punch, scoff some complimentary canapés, or maybe indulge in some retail therapy – it’s the opening day of the Centre’s Summer Sale!

But, returning to the rather attractive music which gets underway in a section headed ‘Shakespeare 400 and Creative Industry’, the latter doubtless having everything to do with the venue.

It begins with Laulusild, or A Bridge of Song by the Estonian composer Veljo Tormis and there are three of the Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi’s many Shakespeare settings Lullaby; Double, Double Toil & Trouble; and A Scurvy tune.

An even more prolific contemporary composer of Shakespeare settings, American Matthew Harris chips in with O Mistress Mine and When Daffodils begin. There is also a setting of Full Fathom Five by English jazzman Elton Dean.

Vaughan Williams gets a look with The Cloud-Capp’d Towers, while two of Poulenc’s resourceful settings of eight Chansons Francaises, Pilon l’orge and Les Tisserands, can be said to fall into the creative strand.

The second slot sounds as if it could be fun when Viva Voce members take on the guise of Shakespeare’s Rude Mechanicals and, subsequently nymphs and shepherds, to present a mini-opera, a reduced version of Handel’s ‘Acis and Galatea’.

The selected numbers from the piece must surely include O ruddier than the cherry and Love sounds th’ alarm and all the accompaniment of a ‘rustic band of minstrels’.

Veljo Tormis is back to start the third slot, ‘Midsummer…easy livin’’, with two pieces from his Jaanilalud – Songs on St John’s Eve, or Midsummer Night Songs: Jaani hobu – St. John’s Steed; and Kutse jaanitulele II – Call to the Midsummer Bonfire.

They are Estonian folk songs should you not know, but Weill’s Mack the Knife and Gershwin’s Summertime, punctuated by the Goff Richards arrangement of the Auvergne folk song Le Baylère (Bailèro), need no introduction.

After which there will be ‘requests’ from a dozen or so evergreens selected from the Great American Songbook.


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