soprano and tenor soloists, SATB choir and organ
duration: 7 minutes
poem by Susan Hitch
May was written to a commission from
the Magdalen Singers for a work to mark their traditional May Eve concert
in 2000. The poem was also commissioned for the same occasion, and afforded
the composer the opportunity to work closely with the author.
In the event, the psychological shape of the poem was agreed before the
text had reached its final stanzaic form: a soprano solo, rising out of
the initial chorus, would emphasise the difficulties and trials of life
as the earth 'buds forth its pain', while it would be left to the tenor
soloist to assert the positive aspects of continued existence. The final
chorus combines with the soloists towards a reconciliation of these conflicting
views - a reconciliation which is inevitable, after all, in the face of
the march of natural forces.
Musically, May has been described
as 'combining traditional English choral idiom with modernism'; the text,
with its complex range of responses to the equinoxial season, is interleaved
between soli and chorus with a final apotheosis combining all elements.
May was first performed on April 30th
2000 by the Magdalen Singers with soloists Elena Lorimer and Mark Chaundy
conducted by Daniel Parkes.
Guy Newbury was born in Inverness
in 1964 and educated there and at Magdalen College, Oxford. He has studied
composition with John Joubert, Jonathan Harvey and, most recently, with
Recent premieres of his work include:
Momentanea for orchestra (BBC Philharmonic / Martyn Brabbins,
Manchester, October 1995)
Cassation for chamber ensemble (Chamber Group of Scotland,
Aberdeen, October 1996)
Strandlooping for solo piano (Peter Lawson, Manchester,
Midnight for SATB and organ (Choir of Magdalen College,
Eclat du ciel for counter-tenor and piano (Daniel Parkes,
0 ombre vane, song-cycle for soprano and piano (Elena Lorimer,
Falaises for solo organ (Matthew Martin, Cheltenham Festival,
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