Monday 26 February 2024

A Vast Obscurity: SongEasel bringings song celebrations to South East London including Gabriel Fauré's centenary

SongEasel - A Vast Obscurity

From April to June 2024, Jocelyn Freeman's SongEasel is celebrating a whole clutch of anniversaries in a series of concerts across South East London featuring performers including Roderick Williams, Mark Padmore and Elin Manahan Thomas. Spreading her net widely, a delighting in discovering that the word 'obscurity' can mean a collective noun for a group of poets, pianist Jocelyn Freeman's series A Vast Obscurity brings together the 460th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the bicentenary of Lord Byron’s death and 65th birthday of Dr. Joseph Spence, plus Gabriel Fauré's centenary.

Things commence on 11 April at St. George the Martyr, Borough with baritone Roderick Williams, pianist Iain Burnside and double bass player Leon Bosch in The Land of Lost Content with music by Butterworth, Burleigh, Clarke, Beach, and McLachlan. 

Gabriel Fauré's centenary is celebrated with a pair of concerts, the 1893 version of the Requiem with Elin Manahan Thomas (soprano), Malachy Frame (baritone) and The Corbett Consort at St Mark's Church, Kennington on 11 May, then Gwilym Bowen (tenor), Jared Andrew Michaud (bass-baritone), Lucy Gibbs (mezzo-soprano) and SongEasel Young Artists will be performing the composer's complete songs across an entire afternoon on 12 May at St Laurence's Church, Catford. 

Then on 31 May at St. Catherine‘s Church, Telegraph Hill, soprano Ella Taylor and pianist Jocelyn Freeman chart the course of Lord Byron's poem Don Juan in music including the first performance of a new commission from Emily Hazrati setting texts by Dr Joseph Spence (Master of Dulwich College and librettist of Dani Howard's opera, The Yellow Wallpaper).

Soprano Francesca Chiejina joins Jocelyn Freeman at St Laurence's Church, Catford on 16 June for a concert celebrating Shakespeare with music by from the Baroque to the present day including Arne, McDowall, Samuel, Ruiz, and Finzi's Let us garlands bring

Finally, Mark Padmore and Jocelyn Freeman close the festival with The Wanderer and the Scholar on 21 June at St Stephen's Church, Dulwich by returning to two figures associated with Lord Byron, his Dulwich classmates, the celebrated pedestrian Captain Robert Barclay and Major-General John Gaspard Le Marchant, with music by Beethoven, Schubert, C. Schumann, Vaughan Williams, and Macmillan. Audiences can revel in the summer solstice with a day trip to Dulwich, enjoying a guided, historical walk around Dulwich Wood before settling in for this evening of exquisite song.

There are less formal events too. A  special Fauré Listening Club event on 21 April, curated and introduced by Dr. Emily Kilpatrick, will celebrate some of the composer’s best-loved works in an informal setting, free and welcome to all. There are also schools performances, and two fringe pop-up performances bringing cabaret, art song, chanson, and music hall favourites into the local community, free for all to enjoy.

Full details from the SongEasel website.

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