Halifax Chamber Choir is performing the ‘Sounds and Sweet Airs: the Music of Shakespeare’ at one of Calderdale’s most history-packed venues.
They will be at Shibden Hall on Saturday, April 12, at 2pm.
The centrepiece of the programme will be a world premier of a new piece by Leeds-based composer James Reynolds, Three Songs for the Bard and this concert will be directed by the choir’s new musical director, Alex Kyle, choral director for the Diocese of Leeds.
As well as musical settings of Shakespeare’s texts by Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Rutter, the choir will perform music from Shakespeare’s era with which the great playwright will have been familiar. This will include madrigals by Thomas Weelkes, John Wilbye, Thomas Campion and John Bennet. In reference to Shakespeare’s possible Catholic sympathies, movements from the famous Mass for 4 Voices by his contemporary, William Byrd, will also be heard.
James Reynolds’ work is an imaginative and sumptuous setting of three songs from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It.
Written for a performance of Shakespeare’s play reimagined as a World War I drama, the music also has great relevance to the First World War Centenary this year.
James said: “I wrote the three songs to be sung by just one singer, accompanied on the guitar. But when the production was finished I decided that I wanted to extend all the material out into a full choir piece. The connection with the First World War inspired a lot of the aspects of the music. The second movement, ‘Blow, thou winter wind’ uses slurs to sound like diving planes and the final movement, ‘Heigh ho, unto the holly’ is a hymn for all who faced death in World War I.”
James’ compositions have been widely used in TV adverts and dramas including Poirot, Lewis (ITV1), Chicago Fire (Sky Drama) and Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympic Games.
Shibden Hall, set in 37 hectares of the Shibden valley, Halifax, is a 600-year-old medieval timber-framed manor house. This Grade II* Listed 15th century house is one of England’s oldest and was built in 1420, five years after the Battle of Agincourt.
Admission is £5 (concessions £4) including refreshments. Tickets are available in advance here or by telephone 01422-352246.