Alexander Mosolov – Zavod (Factory - ‘Iron Foundry’)
Jon Boden – Dancing in the Factory (Songs from the Floodplain)
Béla Bartók – Evening in Transylvania, Bear Dance, Melody (from Hungarian Sketches)
Jon Boden – Days Gone By (Songs from the Floodplain)
Anna Clyne – Masquerade
Jon Boden – Yellow Lights (Afterglow)
Britten – Cakes and Ale, The Bitter Withy (from Suite on English Folk Tunes)
Jon Boden – Flash Flood (Last Mile Home)
Britten – Hunt the Squirrel, Lord Melbourne (from Suite on English Folk Tunes)
Jon Boden – Cinnamon Water (Last Mile Home)
Jon Boden's ‘post-apocalyptic’ trilogy began with Songs from the Floodplain in 2009 - the albums are set in a post-fossil fuel society; “set in the future, but in a circumstance when life has returned to a simpler, pre-technological existence” as Jon puts it.
In this concert we are using the loose thread of narrative in the three albums to hang our classical companion pieces on, and the intention is to play the concert without pausing for breath (much) in between.
was born in Kyiv at the turn of the last century and lived and survived the artistic turmoils of his time in Soviet Russia. Iron Foundry is the only surviving movement of his opera Steel. The piece is a perfect example of Futurist music common in Soviet Russia in the 1920s as composers sought to glorify the social and technological revolutions of the time.
Mosolov was not unscathed by Stalin’s purges and was arrested and imprisoned in 1937, he was released and was compelled to modify his more dissonant, youthful style in order to fit in with the government’s aesthetic. Our conductor today Ellie Slorach says “Is this music? It’s incredibly hard listening but I love it for that!”.
This sets the apocalyptic tone for Dancing in the Factory which is partly inspired by the overgrown post-industrial spaces local to Jon in the Loxley Valley.
Born in 1881 in (what was at that point) Hungary. He became interested in the folk music of Eastern Europe (and beyond) in the 1910s and began to systematically record and transcribe folk songs and folk melodies.
The Hungarian Sketches are orchestrations made in the 1930s of songs in a folk style written for piano in the 1910s.
Evening in Transylvania and Bear Dance show contrasting but affectionate pictures of life in the country.
Melody however reminds us of Bartok’s ever inventive use of orchestration and texture, and is followed by Jon Boden’s Days gone By, which finds us meditating on how motorways and roads might be seen and used in a post-petrol society.
The Swineherd’s dance is the only actual folksong in the suite and ends in a party mood, which is very much the mood of Afterglow.
Anna Clyne Is a British born composer composing in a wide variety of syles and for a variety of forces. Masquerade finds her in a party mood and is flanked by two of Jon Boden’s songs written in a similar vein.
Afterglow takes place in the same world as Songs from the Floodplain, during a bonfire night party, Jon says “in a situation where you aren’t surrounded by artificial light, light in darkness then becomes very significant, whether it’s a candle in the darkness or a bonfire or starlight”. The song tells of a couple who see each other in the chaos and make a connection.
After Masquerade we have Yellow Lights in which our couple find more connection after the party in the abandoned city. Anna Clyne’s Masquerade was commissioned to open the 2013 Proms series. Her own programme notes read:
Masquerade draws inspiration from the original mid-18th century promenade concerts held in London’s pleasure gardens. As is true today, these concerts were a place where people from all walks of life mingled to enjoy a wide array of music. Other forms of entertainment ranged from the sedate to the salacious with acrobatics, exotic street entertainers, dancers, fireworks and masquerades.
I am fascinated by the historic and sociological courtship between music and dance. Combined with costumes, masked guises and elaborate settings, masquerades created an exciting, yet controlled, sense of occasion and celebration. It is this that I wish to evoke in Masquerade.
The work derives its material from two melodies. For the main theme, I imagined a chorus welcoming the audience and inviting them into their imaginary world. The second theme, Juice of Barley, is an old English country dance melody and drinking song, which first appeared in John Playford’s 1695 edition of The English Dancing Master.
Written in 1974, not long before Britten's death, the Suite on English Folk Tunes features the whole gamut of expression with vivacity and verve, as well as some extremely tender moments; the former perhaps all the more surprising given that the composer was in ill-health given cardiac problems despite successful surgery to replace a heart valve the previous year.
The piece consists of five movements (four of which we play today), all vastly different in character and orchestral texture - there is no sign of Britten's writing becoming less energetic or inventive despite the fact he'd suffered a stroke affecting the use of his right hand, which had also brought about the end of his performing career.
Suite of English Folk Songs is perhaps not as directly pastoral in character as similar, arguably better-known compositions from e.g. Vaughan Williams, Ernest Tomlinson or Percy Grainger (to whose memory the suite is 'lovingly and reverently dedicated...'). Nonetheless Britten expertly captures the British countryside using both the native 'tongue' of traditional folk melodies alongside his own unique harmonic language.
The songs Flash Flood and Cinnamon water are taken from Jon’s most recent album Last Mile Home and tell the story of an older couple making the journey on foot from Sheffield to the sea. Taking solace from the noon-day sun in the rivers and lakes there is a sense that it’s their last journey together.
Ellie is a conductor based in Manchester, UK. In 2021-22 she is the Assistant Conductor for the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège. She is also the Artistic Director of Kantos Chamber Choir.
As well as her concerts in Liège, in the 2021-22 season Ellie has engagements with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Northern Ballet and Northern Opera Group.
In the 2020-21 season, Ellie worked with the BBC Singers for recording and filming, conducted the London Sinfonietta in workshop and participated in conducting sessions with the Royal Opera House Orchestra. She conducted a number of performances of Northern Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’ at Leeds Grand Theatre.
Highlights from the 2019-20 season include: Ellie’s debut with the Hallé Orchestra whilst Musical Director of the Hallé Youth Orchestra, conducting the ABLE Orchestra for a world première by composer, Oliver Vibrans, and touring major UK theatres with Matthew Bourne’s new production of Romeo and Juliet as the Young Associate conductor.
In 2015, Ellie founded Kantos Chamber Choir. Kantos has risen to the fore of the choral scene in the North of the UK, putting on unique and innovative concerts that shake up the long standing tradition of choral performances. As well as concerts with the choir, Ellie has been the conductor and chorus director for numerous recordings, including with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Philharmonic, on labels including Decca Classics. Ellie regularly directs for the BBC Radio 4 Daily Service and Sunday Worship broadcasts and directed Kantos in Rome and Assisi for special edition broadcasts.
Ellie studied conducting at the Royal Northern College of Music having previously studied music at The University of Manchester.
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