Wednesday 7 September 2016

Remarkable Shakespearean gems unearthed.

Rosabel Watson and her Aeolian Ladies Orchestra
Rosabel Watson and her Aeolian Ladies Orchestra
The Southbank Sinfonia is launching its 2016-17 with a Shakespeare themed concert with a difference. On 20 September 2016 at St John's Smith Square, Simon Over conducts the orchestra in a programme of music originally written for Royal Shakespeare Company's productions by some of the major names in 20th century British music. The concert will include the concert premiere of RVW's Richard II, music written for the RSC in 1913 and rarely heard since. Also in the concert is Lennox Berkeley's The Winter’s Tale, Jonathan Dove's A Midsummer Night's Dream, John Wooldridge's The Tempest, Malcolm Williamson's The Merry Wives of Windsor, Edmund Rubbra's Macbeth and Rosabel Watson's King John. The orchestra will be joined by a cast of actors including Patricia Hodge, David Threlfall and Samuel West.

RVW worked for Sir Frank Benson's company at Stratford in 1913-14, writing music for a number of productions. Evidently Benson was quite uninterested in the idea of new music in his productions and once RVW stopped working with the company, they reverted to their usual incidental music. RVW wrote and arranged music using folk-music, hymn tunes and plainchant. Between 1916 and 1944, the composer Rosabel Watson (1865-1959) worked on and off as musical director of the RSC. She is a forgotten name now, but as well as being a composer and performer trained at the Guildhall School she was notable in the women's suffrage movement and founded the first all women orchestra in the UK, the Aeolian Ladies Orchestra.

Before the concert, Bruce O'Neill the current head of music at the Royal Shakespeare Company will be giving a talk about the company's project to bring its historic scores to light.

Full details from the Southbank Sinfonia website.

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