Thursday, 26 April 2018

Maytime - Parry in Gloucester and London

Sir Charles Hubert Parry was, arguably, the founder of modern British music. Elgar didn't teach, except by example. Parry was both composer and academic, with a direct influence on a whole generation of composers who were to make British music what it is today - Vaughan Williams, Holst etc. etc.  Parry was open minded and open spirited.  There is a lot more to his music than Jerusalem and pieces for church and state occasions.   Was Parry also the father of English song ? Please see my piece on Parry's English Lyrics. 

So in this centenary of his death, it would be nice to commemorate him properly. Two concerts coming up in the next few weeks.. First,  a gala evening concert at Gloucester Cathedral, Adrian Partington conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, where
the Gloucester Choral Society will be joined by the Oxford Bach Choir
and the Philharmonia Orchestra in a programme that begins with Parry's I was Glad includes Parry's Ode to the Nativity and ends with Jerusalem.  In between Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Holst's Hymn of Jesus and Ireland Greater Love Hath No Man.  This is part of a weekend celebration which will include a study day at Highnam House for true devotees.

Five days later, on 10/5, Partington brings the same forces to the Royal Festival Hall in London.  I was Glad and The Ode to the Nativity are on the programme,  and the same Vaughan Willliams but Holst and Ireland are dropped for Elgar's Cello Concerto witth Marie-Elisabeth Hecker.   Not that anyone minds hearing that piece at all.  I'll be at the Royal Opera House that night for the premiere of George Benjamin's new opera Lessons in Love and Violence.  But if anyone's going, either to RFH or Gloucester, please let me know.  There will be some Parry at the Proms too (Prom 17) , and one concert in the autumn at the Wigmore Hall, though in past years BBC Radio 3 has done all the symphonies and more.  Parry isn't Box Office Hot Stuff and big choral numbers aren't easy to produce.  So it's nuts to expect mass audiences  and wall to wall hysteria. But that's just as well.  Parry wasn't that kind of guy. Serious listeners can seek Parry out themselves, and listen, gradually absorbing his unique sensilibility. More on Parry and British music on this site and on my Hubert Parry Group on Facebook.

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