On the Green
two-part choir & piano accompaniment
Instrumentation two-part choir, piano
First Performance 9 June 2013, Aldeburgh Festival, Orford Church, Suffolk, UK; New London Children’s Choir, Ronald Corp (conductor)
Co-commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Britten-Pears Foundation
27.3.14 St James’ Piccadilly, London; The New London Children’s Choir, Ronald Corp conductor
23.11.18 St Katherine Cree Church, London; The Libra chamber choir, Evan Smith conductor
Charlotte is thrilled to be part of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s commission for the New London Children’s Choir. The pieces, co-commissioned with the Britten-Pears Foundation will jointly mark the RPS’s Bicentenary and the Centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth. The song book will consist eight songs by four composers’: Thea Musgrave, Sally Beamish, Anna Meredith, and Charlotte Bray, and will be premiered in Aldeburgh Festival.
On the Green sets Blake’s companion poems The Echoing Green and The Garden of Love. The playful merry sounds and images of youthfulness and innocence are heard in The Echoing Green, where Blake captures the pure joy and beauty of the natural world.
The innocence and freedom in The Echoing Green contrast markedly with life’s experiences in The Garden of Love. Flowers become a metaphor for love- love that withers as the garden of love becomes a graveyard- in turn a metaphor for death and decay. The joys and desire of youth are shattered, driven out- Blake’s statement about freedom blocked by the Church, and the repression of natural pleasures and desires, a brave statement from Blake in his time.
From Songs of Innocence & Experience
by William Blake
The Echoing Green
The sun does arise,
And make happy the skies.
The merry bells ring
To welcome the spring.
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing louder around,
To the bells’ cheerful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the echoing green.
The Garden of Love
I laid me down upon a bank,
Where Love lay sleeping;
I heard among the rushes dank
Then I went to the heath and the wild,
To the thistles and thorns of the waste;
And they told me how they were beguiled,
Driven out, and compelled to the chaste.
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And “Thou shalt not”, writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.