Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Iain Burnside's musical plays, cross-arts projects involving lieder and drama, have been a highlight of the programme at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the last few years or so, including Why does the Queen die?.  His latest, Swansong premieres at the Guildhall School on Saturday 4 November 2017. Swansong looks at Schubert's last song-cycle, Schwanengesang, fourteen songs written at the end of his life, but in fact assembled by his publisher, Schubert may not have intended them as a cycle.

Using a group of actors, singers and pianists (all students from the Guildhall School), Burnside's new musical drama presents the fourteen songs of Schwanengesang in their traditional order interspersed with monologues from six different characters; each casts a fresh light, from different angles, on the songs. Three are Schubert’s contemporaries: his friend Franz von Schober, his laundry girl Liesl and the canny publisher Tobias Haslinger who assembled the songs into a cycle. The other three are from later generations: Johannes Brahms sees his adopted city, Vienna, through North German eyes; Ivor Gurney reflects on the composer from the City of London Mental Hospital where he spent the last 15 years of his life; and Emily, an American graduate student visiting Vienna. on this collection of masterly songs, and on the genius who created them, months before his death.

Swansong is directed by Iain Burnside with designs by Oscar Selfridge, with Declan Baxter (Ivor Gurney); Poppy Gilbert (Liesl Raimund); Oliver Higginson (Franz von Schober); Jordan Angell (Tobias Haslinger); Harvey Cole (Johannes Brahms); Erica Rothman (Emily Jacobsen), Harriet Burns, James Robinson and Andrew Hamilton (singers), Michael Pandya and Dylan Perez (pianists).

Swansong is at Milton Court Concert Hall on 4 & 5 November 2017, further information from the Guildhall School website.

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