Monday 9 September 2019

'Quite a feat! ... It lingers in the memory' (Classical Source) - The Gardeners returns

Premiere of Joanna Wyld & Robert Hugill's The Gardeners at Conway Hall, June 2019 (Photo Robert Piwko)
Premiere of Joanna Wyld & Robert Hugill's The Gardeners at Conway Hall, June 2019 (Photo Robert Piwko)
Overall, though, there is a formality, of a ritual and spiritual kind, that his opera observes consistently and with considerable impact. The Angry Young Man’s final words are of reassurance and hope - ‘I will tell them, brothers. They will listen.’ 
Claire Seymour in Opera Magazine

After its triumphant premiere at Conway Hall in June 2019, Joanna Wyld and my new chamber opera, The Gardeners returns tonight (9 September 2019) with a further concert performance, this time in the lovely Garden Museum where we will be serving a glass of wine in the Museum's garden before the performance.

Inspired by a newspaper article, The Gardeners is set in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in a war-torn country amongst the family of gardeners who look after the cemetery, The Gardeners treats the themes of tolerance, remembrance and brotherhood using the garden as a metaphor for the possibility of growth and renewal.

There are a number of instrumental interludes, and it is in these that we realise that the viola is given a hugely magnified role in Hugill’s writing (brilliantly, poignantly played by Joanna Patrick), part of Hugill’s sonic armoury 
to create a melancholic, elegiac atmosphere. 

William Vann conducts the original cast, Peter Brathwaite as the Old Gardener, Magid El-Bushra as the Angry Young Man, Julian Debreuil as the Gardener, Flora McIntosh as the Grandmother and Georgia Mae Bishop as the Mother, accompanied by an instrumental ensemble of harp (Oliver Wass), clarinet (Sacha Rattle), violin (Charlotte Amherst), viola (Joanna Patrick) and cello (Sophie Haynes).

Expertly conducted by William Vann, drifts of melody, elusive tonality and 
a consistent moderato pace suggest the layers of dream and reality 
Peter Reed, Classical Source

The opera starts at 7.45pm tonight (9 September 2019) at the Garden Museum, 5 Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB. Tickets, price £25, include a glass of wine and are available on the door or in advance from TicketTailor.

The final scene is given over to The Angry Young Man in dialogue with The Dead, who he can now hear. This was the finest moment for El-Bushra, and arguably Hugill’s, too. A sort of culminating coda that passes on the story on to the next generation (much like the end of Wozzeck, perhaps, with Wozzeck’s son cast into the same world), this was haunting, in every sense, indeed. - Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International.

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