Guy Newbury

for 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 John Casken.

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, 1997)

Midnight for SATB and organ (Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, 1998)

Eclat du ciel for counter-tenor and piano (Daniel Parkes, Oxford, 2000)

0 ombre vane, song-cycle for soprano and piano (Elena Lorimer, Oxford, 2001)

Falaises for solo organ (Matthew Martin, Cheltenham Festival, 2001)

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