The Heart of the Matter – November 19, 2003 | University of Western Ontario, London, ON
The vocal music of Benjamin Britten (1913-76)

date: November 19, 2003

This was the first performance of a concert developed to mark the 90th anniversary of the birth (on St. Cecilia’s Day, November 22, 1913) of our signature composer, Benjamin Britten.  It, and our other three concerts, were part of the Ontario-wide festival “Benjamin Britten: A Celebration” under the artistic directorship of Nicholas Goldschmidt. The choice of music spanned almost the whole of the composer’s career in vocal music, from the earliest song available to us (1922) to the final song-cycle of 1969.  The title of the programme came from its centrepiece, the sequence of music for tenor, horn, piano and narrator compiled in 1956 (and revised by Sir Peter Pears in 1983).  To the second Canticle, Still falls the rain, Britten added three more settings of Dame Edith Sitwell’s poetry.  A further four extracts from her poetry were read (originally by Dame Edith herself) between the songs.  On this occasion, the reader was the Aldeburgh Connection’s Honorary Patron, Christopher Newton.

Song Artist Composer Poet
Beware! Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
The Birds Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Belloc, Hilaire
Underneath the abject willow (Two Ballads) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Auden, Wystan Hugh
Dink’s Song Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano American folksong, arr. Britten, Benjamin anon.
Now the leaves are falling fast, Op.11/2 (On This Island) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Auden, Wystan Hugh
Nocturne, Op.11/4 (On This Island) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Auden, Wystan Hugh
As it is, plenty, Op.11/5 (On This Island) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Auden, Wystan Hugh
Lullaby for a Retired Colonel Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin n/a
Prologue: Where are the seeds of the Universal Fire (The Heart of the Matter) Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Wevers, Scott, horn; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Sitwell, Dame Edith
Song: We are the darkness (The Heart of the Matter) Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Sitwell, Dame Edith
Canticle III: Still falls the rain, Op.55 Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Wevers, Scott, horn; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Sitwell, Dame Edith
Epilogue: So, out of the dark, see our great Spring begins (The Heart of the Matter) Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Sitwell, Dame Edith
INTERMISSION
L’Enfance (Quatre Chansons françaises) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Hugo, Victor
Wagtail and Baby (A Satire), Op.52/3 (Winter Words) Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Hardy, Thomas
Bed-time, Op.84/5 (Who are these children?) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Soutar, William
Who are these children? Op.84/9 (Who are these children?) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Soutar, William
Supper, Op.84/10 (Who are these children?) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Soutar, William
The Children, Op.84/11 (Who are these children?) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Soutar, William
The Auld Aik, Op.84/12 (Who are these children?) Whicher, Monica, soprano; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Soutar, William
Nocturne, Op.31/3 (Serenade) Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Wevers, Scott, horn; Ralls, Stephen, piano Britten, Benjamin Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
The Choirmaster’s Burial (or The Tenor Man’s Story), Op.52/5 (Winter Words) Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Ubukata, Bruce, piano Britten, Benjamin Hardy, Thomas
Alleluia –   ENCORE Whicher, Monica, soprano; Butterfield, Benjamin, tenor; Wevers, Scott, horn; Ralls, Stephen / Ubukata, Bruce, piano Purcell, Henry, real. Britten, Benjamin anon.