Friday 17 May 2024

Out of the Shadows: An evening of music by Brixton-based contemporary classical composer Robert Hugill

Out of the Shadows, an evening of music by Brixton-based contemporary classical composer Robert Hugill on Sunday 16 June, is part of Omnibus Theatre, Clapham's 96 Festival, its celebration of queerness and theatre

As part of 96 Festival, Omnibus Theatre, Clapham's celebration of queerness and theatre, on 16 June 2024, tenor Ben Vonberg-Clark, baritone Jonathan Eyers and pianist Nigel Foster will be performing Out of the Shadows, featuring two of my recent cantatas and love songs. 

On Friday 5 July 2024, the programme will be presented at St John's Church, Tartu, Estonia as part of the Glasperlenspiel Festival. The festival is a leading musical event in Estonian Summer and was founded in 1995 by Estonian composer and music producer, Peeter Vähi.

Ben Vonberg-Clark was until recently precentor at St John the Divine, Kennington, and conducts the London Youth Boys’ Choir and is conductor of the University of Essex Choir and the UBS choral society.

Baritone Jonathan Eyers was Young Artist at the National Opera Studio for the 2023/24 season, and was Figaro in Charles Court Opera’s production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville at Wilton’s Music Hall

Pianist Nigel Foster is the artistic director of the London Song Festival, whose Summer Festival runs from 6 to 29 June 2024.

The evening features two of my cantatas. Out of the Shadows, inspired by a re-reading of Graham Robb's Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century, uses historic texts to explore homosexual men's gradual emergence in the 19th century. Et expecto explores ideas of life after death via Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Burke & Hare, the Wikipedia entry on Cryonics and Whitman’s poetry. Alongside these two will be a selection of my songs, from love songs and settings of Michaelangelo’s sonnets to a depiction of an Aids candlelit memorial.

As a little taster, here are two songs from my song cycle, For David, on his Birthday performed by Ben Vonberg-Clark and Nigel Foster and recorded at Hinde Street Methodist Church in 2023 when Out of the Shadows was premiered. The recording engineer Christopher Braine. The video is available on YouTube.

In the 1990s , whilst browsing the Brixton second-hand bookshop, Bookmongers, I came across two book of poems by the Black American poet Carl Cook, The Tranquil Lake of Love and postscripts, using Cook's poems for the chorales in my Passion setting, and setting seven of them as annual birthday presents for my boyfriend (and now husband) David. Here we hear 'to see you happy' and 'perhaps', this latter was a finalist in the English Poetry and Song Society's Diamond Songs competition, organised to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee.

Out of the Shadows at Omnibus Theatre, Clapham at 7pm on Sunday 16 June 2024, with tenor Ben Vonberg-Clark, baritone Jonathan Eyers, pianist Nigel Foster. Further information from the theatre website.

Out of the Shadows at Glasperlenspiel Festival in Tartu, Estonia at 10pm on Friday 5 July 2024. Further information from the festival website.

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