A magical springtime concert – and a world premiere
Our Wonderful World
Saturday 23 April 2022, 7.30pm
Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
It’s a bold, fun piece that allows the choir to showcase how good it is at storytelling through music. I can promise the audience a very special experience.
- Tom Newall
Congratulations on a hugely enjoyable concert and a really impressive new piece. The Gardener deserves to be sung by many other choirs - I’m sure they’d love it.
- Clare Stevens (reviewer, Choir & Organ, via Twitter)
Salford Choral Society produced an evening of uplifting music celebrating the wonder of nature – including the world premiere of The Gardener by award-winning young composer Lucy Armstrong and lyricist Rebecca Hurst.
The magical programme mixed choral favourites old and new – including John Rutter’s Look at the World and Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna – creating the perfect springtime concert.
The highlight was the world premiere of The Gardener – an exciting and accessible new work exploring a day in the life of the garden from First Light to Dusk Falls, thunderstorm included!
It was written specially for the choir by young British composer Lucy Armstrong, an RNCM graduate whose works are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3 and performed internationally. The distinctive words (libretto) were conceived by writer and opera-maker Rebecca Hurst, who has a PhD in creative writing from the University of Manchester.
Salford Choral Society Musical Director Tom Newall said: “It’s not often a choir commissions its very own piece and we’re all incredibly excited to give the first ever performance of The Gardener.
“It’s a bold, fun piece that allows the choir to showcase how good it is at storytelling through music. I can promise the audience a very special experience.”
Theatre for the ears
Composer Lucy Armstrong said: “I set out to write a piece that was fast-moving, visceral and dramatic, a piece that played to the strengths of the choir.
“The music was written during the Covid lockdowns and I wanted to write something exciting that the choir would enjoy singing when they finally got to sing together again.
“It was a joy to respond musically to Rebecca’s vibrant, multi-layered text and I wanted to write music that would allow the choir to share the story with the audience in a bold, dramatic and varied way.”
Lyricist Rebecca Hurst, who held creative writing workshops with the choir as she developed the libretto, said: “I think of this piece as theatre for the ears – there are characters and narrative and a real sense of place.
“It all started from a loose idea – to write something connected with gardens and the natural world. It’s exciting to see it all coming together – Lucy and I can’t wait to come to the performance!”
The full programme for the concert was:
The Gardener - Lucy Armstrong / Rebecca Hurst
For the Beauty of the Earth - John Rutter
Look at the World – John Rutter
My Love’s an Arbutus – Charles Stanford
Lux Aeterna – Morten Lauridsen
The Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) - Felix Mendelssohn
Composer Lucy Armstrong
Librettist Rebecca Hurst
Tom Newall said: “This concert is the perfect antidote to the challenging two years we’ve all been through. It’s a celebration of the glory and wonder of nature – something we all came to appreciate more than ever during lockdown."
The story behind The Gardener