Song Recital – ‘Farewell to Arms’
Given by Richard Robbins, tenor
Guy Murgatroyd, piano and Jo Blake Cave, story-teller
Thursday, June 28 at 6 PM – 7 PM
At St Stephen Walbrook
38 Walbrook, EC4N 4 London, United Kingdom
Music and words vividly recalling First World War experiences. Songs by Ivor Gurney (the poet and composer whose life was blighted by his suffering in the trenches) and his friend Herbert Howells, Gerald Finzi and John Ireland (both deeply affected by the loss of friends and contemporaries), woven together with letters written home from the Front. James Macmillan’s contemporary response to the anguish of war completes the programme.
A New Trust Publication
Full score of ‘Since I Believe In God The Father Almighty’
Motet for unaccompanied double choir
Composed in June 1925, this motet for double choir is an apparently deeply personal work for Gurney. The poem by Robert Bridges speaks honestly of the poet’s ambivalent relationship with God: he undoubtedly believes in God, but neither he nor anyone else can know or understand him. For Gurney, who had cried angrily out on God in poems of both the trenches (‘Pain’) and the asylum (‘To God’) such a stance seems to ring true with him. The latter part of the poem may particularly have caught Gurney’s attention: he ‘whose spirit within [him…] loveth beauty’, ‘gratefully adoring for delight beyond asking’; and while Bridges is cherishing his freedom of belief, Gurney, in his ‘hours of anguish and darkness’, may also be cherishing at least the idea of freedom, from the mental hospital in which he was becoming resigned to his hopeless abandonment. The motet was given its premiere in Gloucester Cathedral in May 2012 as part of the Gurney Society’s Spring Weekend, given by Gloucester Cathedral Choir under its director Adrian Partington.
The full score in now on sale and can be purchased from the Ivor Gurney Society’s website shop.
To purchase a copy or obtain multiple copies please CLICK the following link
CD Recording of ‘Since I Believe I God The Father Almighty’
by The Sixteen of on the CORO label
This CD can be purchased online from www.thesixteenshop.com
Please click the following link : https://thesixteenshop.com/products/cor16134
Archived News and Performances
“A Foreign Field That Is Forever England”
The Australian Discovery Orchestra conducted by Kevin Purcell gave the Australian premiere of A Gloucestershire Rhapsody on August 14th 2016. The ADO concerts are streamed globally from a non-public venue for an international audience, lasting approximately 50 minutes. If you would like to hear A Gloucestershire Rhapsody them please follow the link below. The concert also includes the premiere of Armstrong-Gibbs’ Third Symphony.
Howells’s orchestrations of ‘In Flanders’ and ‘By a Bierside’ at The RCM
The Royal College of Music orchestra, with tenor Nicholas Moreton, is to give two performances Howells’s two 1917 orchestrations of songs sent home by Gurney from the trenches, In Flanders and By a Bierside : on Thursday 30 June, at the Royal College of Music, Kensington, London (Gurney’s Alma Mater; see http://www.rcm.ac.uk/events/) and on Saturday 9 July in Gloucester Cathedral as part of the Cheltenham Festival (http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/music/).
Gurney’s String Quartet in A
15th March, 2016 at St Nicholas’s Church, Codsall
Birmingham Conservatoire’s Klee Quartet are to perform the three movements of Gurney’s 1919 A major String Quartett on Tuesday 15th March at 7.30pm in St. Nicholas’s Church, Codsall (Wolverhampton). Tickets are available from 16 February from two different Codsall retailers on 01902 845300 or 01902 847565. Further details at www.codsallartsfestival.org.uk
Gurney’s ‘War Elegy’
19th March, 2016 in Manchester
The Manchester Beethoven Orchestra are performing Gurney’s War Elegy in a programme including Elgar’s Cello Concerto, Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad rhapsody and works by Ravel and Granados in Holy Innocents Church, Fallowfield, Manchester, on Saturday 19 March at 7.30pm. Further details at www.beethovenorchestra.co
In Melbourne, on 21 August, The Australian Discovery Orchestra will be giving the Australian premiere of Gurney’s A Gloucestershire Rhapsody, alongside Cecil Armstrong Gibbs’s Symphony no.3 (Westmoreland). Venue yet to be confirmed. Details at http://australiandiscoveryorchestra.com/events/
We have also received enquiries about a possible performance of Gurney’s War Elegy in Belgium in September 2016, and about a performance of Philip Lancaster’s reconstruction of the original scoring for wind and harp of the Five Elizabethan Songs in the United States. It is great to see Gurney breaking out into the world in this way!
2016 – Three Choirs Festival
This year’s Three Choirs Festival takes place in Gloucester between 23 and 30 July, and will include performances of some works of signficance for Gurney’s own relationship with the festival: Mendelssohn’s Elijah, in which Gurney sang one of the solo parts at short notice in the 1904 Gloucester Festival, and Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, which so excited both Gurney and Howells at its Gloucester premiere in 1910 — as well as the usual dose of Gurney’s hero, Edward Elgar, whose The Kingdom and Enigma Variations are to be performed.
While we do not yet know whether Gurney’s music features in any of the services or chamber music events (the programme is released in April), Gurney’s poetry feature will certainly appear in a new work commissioned for the festival from Philip Lancaster. The St. Cecilia Singers, conducted by Gloucester Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, Jonathan Hope, will be premiering a new chamber oratorio by Philip, which is a telling of the Passion story interspersed with a commentary taken from the work of nine war poets. The ideas of sacrifice and salvation are common to both the war and to the story of Christ’s Passion, and the image of the crucifixion appears in several war poems — and even in the geography of the war (Gurney’s In Flanders was composed at ‘Crucifix Corner’ near Thiepval on the Somme in January 1917 — one of several ‘Crucifix Corners’, so named for the Catholic icons that adorned those places). The idea for the work has grown out of Philip’s work on Gurney, and more particularly his research into Gurney’s place amongst the war poets. He hopes that the bringing together of this poetry with one of the most potent and moving stories in human history, will be both striking and poignant. Philip’s War Passion is an extended, hour-long, work in four movements, for four soloists, choir and thirteen-piece ensemble. It includes a setting of Gurney’s September 1917 poem, ‘The Sentry’ (published in the Collected Letters, pp.388-389), alongside poems by Edmund Blunden, Robert Graves, Julian Grenfell, Herbert Read, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Charles Sorley and Edward Thomas. While the piece does have some brief glimpses of hope and redemption, don’t expect any heart-warming conclusions . . .
Dr Jenner’s House
Thursday 6th November at 7.30
‘Understanding Ivor Gurney’ by Anne Crow
In this illustrated talk, Anne Crow will discuss how, through reading his poems, we can come some way to understanding Ivor Gurney.
For full details please visit http://www.jennermuseum.com/events/6-november-understanding-ivor-gurney.html
Thursday 13 November 2014, 6.30-8.15 pm at Europe House, 32 Smith Square, SW1
‘The Pity of War’, presented by Poems on the Underground with readers Imtiaz Dharker and Cicely Herbert and guest speaker Bruce Kent. The Apollo Chamber Players perform music by Ivor Gurney and other composers strongly affected by the First World War.
Gurney on the Underground
Gurney on the Underground: The long running series of ‘Poems on the Underground’, displaying poems on posters in underground stations and trains, has launched a new set of War Poems on the underground, which will be displayed from now and through November. The new series includes Gurney’s evocative ‘Bach and the Sentry’, so if you are out and about in the capital, do look out for the Gurney.
Ivor Gurney: Poems of War by R.K.R Thornton
This new anthology of Gurney’s war poems includes two previously unpublished poems.
Copies priced £5 can be obtained from either the Ivor Gurney Society (see website) or from the author by sending a cheque mad payable to the Ivor Gurney Society to 2, Rectory Terrace, Gosford, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1XY
Tom Denny and Ivor Gurney in Gloucester Cathedral by Adrian Barlow
A new memorial window to Ivor Gurney was unveiled at a special dedication ceremony in Gloucester Cathedral in April.
For more information please visit Adrian Barlow’s ‘blogspace’ at
The Ivor Gurney ‘Memorial Window’ Event in Gloucester Cathedral
Saturday 31st August 2013
The distinguished singer Sarah Connolly has organised a special day of celebrations to raise funds for a memorial window to Ivor Gurney. The memorial stained-glass window will be situated in the fan-vaulted North Chantry of Gloucester Cathedral’s Lady Chapel, and has been designed by artist Thomas Denny.
Celebrating the life and work of Gloucestershire’s famous poet composer
1100am – Morning recital Sarah Connolly CBE and Dame Felicity Lott poetry readings by actor Simon Callow CBE. Tickets £25 2.00pm – Talk by stained glass artist Tom Denny Thomas Denny illustrates the beauty and anguish of Ivor Berti Gurney’s life through the medium of stained glass.Tickets £10
7.00pm – Ivor Gurney Memorial Concert. Sarah Conolly CBE, Neal Davies, Adrian Partington, Nigel Short, The English Chamber Orchestra, The Tenebrae Choir, poetry readings by Simon Callow CBE With a world premier performance of Judith Bingham’s new composition, commissioned in honour of the occasion All profits will be used to commission a brand new Tom Denny stained glass window for the Lady Chapel in honour of Ivor Gurney.
For tickets and further information please visit www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk
For a preview article please click the following link below
The Three Choirs Festival, Gloucester 27th July-4th August
This year’s Three Choirs Festival features a recital of the original version of Gurney’s Five Elizabethan Songs, scored for 2 Flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassons and harp, edited and realised by Philip Lancaster. Philip Lancaster will be joined by Soprano, Susan Spicer and students from the Welsh College of Music and Drama.
The English Song Weekend – 30th May- 2nd June
The songs of Ivor Gurney will be featured in two concerts.
Saturday 1st June at 2.15 – a recital given by Jonathan McGovern (baritone), the Carducci String Quartet and Susie Allan will include a rare performance of Gurney’s The Western Playland‘.
Saturday 1st June at 8pm – First War Poet of England am I
Poetry and song illustrating the story of Ivor Gurney.
Performer: Richard Goulding, Elizabeth Atherton (soprano), Stuart Jackson (tenor) and Ashley Riches (baritone) Susie Allan/Gavin Roberts (piano).
This sequence will include a performance of the Trust’s new performing edition of four ‘unpublished’ songs: On Eastnor Knoll, Tarantella, Reconciliation, and The Return of Heroes. Please visit: http://www.ludlow-english-song-weekend.org.uk/ for more details.
A premiere recording of Gurney’s ‘Coronation March’
Gurney’s ‘Coronation March’, the first of his three extant orchestral works is to be recorded by the BBC. The recording is to be conducted by David Parry, who also conducted the recording of A Gloucestershire Rhapsody, broadcast on Radio 3 last November.
A premiere recording of Gurney’s Violin Sonata.
The new recording arm of The English Music Festival – EM Records has just released the première recording of Ivor Gurney’s Violin Sonata in E flat performed by Rupert Luck (violin) and Matthew Richard (piano). The recording, made at Wyastone Hall, in Monmouth at the end of last year includes the Elgar violin sonata along with Lionel Sainsbury’s Soliloquy for solo violin. The CD can be purchased from the English Music Festival’s website at www.em-records.com
See Recording of the Month on Musicweb a review by John Quinn at: www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2013/Feb13/Gurney_EMRCD011.htm
For an interim report on the recording sessions please see John Quinn’s excellent article at
A new CD recording – ‘The Far Country’ –
Songs and Poems by Ivor Gurney
Performed by Philip Lancaster (baritone) and Gavin Roberts (piano)
Philip Lancaster has designed an imaginative sequence of songs and poems that weave connections between Gurney’s poetry and music.
The recording includes several premieres: five songs that have not previously been recorded either at all or in the version presented, and eight as yet unpublished poems.
For an in depth commentary about the project please visit the link below
This new CD will be released by Clutag Press in May.
‘ The Sons of the Morning’ – A new CD recording from Albion Records.
CD Catalogue Number: ALBCD01
A piano music recital by Iain Burnside, includes: Ivor Gurney’s Five Preludes and his Chorale Prelude on Rockingham (arranged by Stephen Banfield) * premiere recording.
Ivor Gurney’s Five Preludes for piano date from the second half of 1919 written during a period of remarkable and unexpected creativity from the 29 year old composer.
Please visit: www.albionrecords.org
‘Poetry by Heart’
The launch of a new poetry competition for Schools
‘A way for 14- to 18-year olds to have serious fun while they extend their reading, deepen their powers of appreciation, and memorise beautiful and intriguing poems which will enrich their lives for ever’. Andrew Motion.
This exciting new project features Ivor Gurneys poem ‘Strange Hells’.
For more details please visit www.poetrybyheart.org.uk.