Signum Records has released a wonderful new recording of Jonathan Dove’s moving choral-orchestral work There Was a Child. Commissioned in memory of a young man who had died at a tragically young age, There Was a Child sets poetry dealing with youth, joy, loss and grief but cumulatively works as a substantial celebration of life. For soprano and tenor soloists, choirs and orchestra, this recording of There Was a Child was made in a live performance in 2011 at Symphony Hall Birmingham by the CBSO, CBSO choruses, soprano Joan Rogers and tenor Toby Spence conducted by Simon Halsey.
Ten years ago, the 19-year-old son of a friend of mine drowned while on holiday abroad. My friend asked me to help her commemorate him by writing a piece of music – not a requiem: because her son brought her so much joy, she felt it should be a joyful piece, [and] a celebration of life.
Singing with other people is one of the most joyful activities I know, so this had to be a choral work. And music celebrating a young life should include the sound of children’s voices. The idea of mother and son suggested two soloists, soprano and tenor.
I found poems by Charles Causley and Langston Hughes describing the wonder of birth; by Wordsworth, Keats, Traherne and Emily Dickinson conjuring up different aspects of childhood […] Shakespeare evokes the grief of a mother for her child and Tichborne sings of death coming too soon. Walt Whitman’s poem There was a Child went Forth is a radiant vision of a child absorbing everything around him and connecting with the whole world.
I hope There Was a Child will be fun to sing and uplifting to hear, an affirmation of the wonder of life.
– Jonathan Dove
A new recording of orchestral music by Patric Standford has been released on the British Music Society label. The disc includes world premiere recordings of three works; the First Symphony, the Cello Concerto and the Prelude to a Fantasy. Raphael Wallfisch is soloist in the Cello Concerto and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is conducted by David Lloyd-Jones.