Portraits of Love
A note by David Bradbury:
Please forgive me “blowing my own trumpet” (almost literally) but this is to let you know about a concert at which my music is going to be performed and which may be of interest.
The concert is on Sunday 20th February 2022 at the Swan Theatre in Worcester (“Portraits of Love” poster attached). It will be the first performance of two of my works “Bredon Hill” , see separate synopsis, and (as an encore) “Oh Danny Boy”, an arrangement of the traditional Londonderry Air. The soprano solo will be Liz MacDonald and the tenor solo Wihelm Theunissen and the orchestra will be the Central England Ensemble under the baton of my nephew Anthony Bradbury.
While I certainly don’t expect people to turn out for my music alone, the evening should be an enjoyable user-friendly concert programme played to a highly professional standard. The musicians have had a torrid time during the Covid pandemic (for example this concert was supposed to happen in February this year but was cancelled) and it will be good to support them. I also promised to assist the organisers with the task of trying to get as many “bums on seats” as possible.
If there is enough interest in the concert I intend to put on a bus from this area (leaving from Tresham/Alderley/Wotton and possibly other local pick-up points). This will help to take the hassle out of the travel and make the evening go with a swing. If you are interested in this please let me know, either privately or by comment on this post.
I have already promised free tickets to several people who have kindly helped in the production of the Bredon Hill work. Tickets can also be obtained from the Box Office.
PS If anyone is a glutton for punishment and wants an earlier sample of my musical work there is another concert on December 12, 2021 just before Christmas. The concert will contain excerpts of my “Christmas Festival” work which you may remember from previous performances in Wotton, Thornbury, Clent, Birmingham, London and elsewhere. For details of this Google “Eventbrite” and “Sanctuary at Christmas”.
Synopsis of the Work
This work is based on the eponymous poem by A.E. Housman and is a musical work in four movements scored for soprano, tenor and full orchestra. The piece follows on from Housman’s poem with different scenarios of lovers on Bredon Hill (which can be seen just beside the M5 in Worcestershire). A particular six-note phrase is used as a kind of leitmotif throughout the work to denote Bredon Hill.
The first movement follows exactly the Housman poem. This movement uses the tenor voice accompanied by orchestra.
The second movement is sung by the soprano with orchestral accompaniment. She expresses bitterness and anger on discovering that she has been cheated; uncertain of the future, but determined not to stay downcast. Along with the rage is wistful tenderness, recollections of happier times on Bredon Hill; a sense of inner concern and care for her lover, which she cannot quite shake off. The emotional mood hurtles dizzyingly between the different states of mind.
The third movement reflects death and the sadness of losing a loved one, interspersed with tender memories of the past, especially on Bredon Hill.
The final movement represents the power of lasting love; revisiting old haunts, happy memories, a joyous celebration of love.
Style of the Work
Houseman’s poem is quintessentially English and rural, highly attuned to the beauty of nature. Whilst adhering to this theme I have also brought in some informality and a smattering of jazz idioms that are part of my musical style.
In summertime on Bredon
The bells they sound so clear;
Round both the shires they ring them
In steeples far and near,
A happy noise to hear.
Here of a Sunday morning
My love and I would lie,
And see the coloured counties,
And hear the larks so high
About us in the sky.
The bells would ring to call her
In valleys miles away;
“Come all to church, good people;
Good people come and pray.”
But here my love would stay.
And I would turn and answer
Among the springing thyme,
“Oh, peal upon our wedding,
And we will hear the chime,
And come to church in time.”
But when the snows at Christmas
On Bredon top were strown,
My love rose up so early
And stole out unbeknown
And went to church alone.
They tolled the one bell only,
Groom there was none to see,
The mourners followed after,
And so to church went she,
And would not wait for me.
The bells they sound on Bredon,
And still the steeples hum,
“Come all to church, good people,” —
Oh, noisy bells, be dumb;
I hear you, I will come.