One of the things I wanted to bring to Myriad when I became their conductor was innovative programming that made sure the works we performed had an engaging theme or thread running through them. I’ve been to many concerts in the past where little thought has gone into this area, which I think is a real shame because for me, works can enlighten each other if they complement each other well.
One example is in Myriad’s last ‘London’s Burning’ concert, when we performed two settings of the same text by composers Monteverdi and Lauridsen. Though these composers are separated by hundreds of years, it was fascinating to see what they did in terms of setting the text that was similar, and different.
To programme well can take a lot of time however. One can end up being so bound by a chosen theme that you end up choosing inferior music just to fit the theme, or you find what seems like a perfect piece, but then realise it needs an orchestration which just isn’t going to be feasible with the resources you have available. To begin working out Myriad’s spring concert, I already had the idea of poets in my head from the installation of a plaque in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey to Philip Larkin. A concert with texts by well-known poets seemed an idea that could work really well, and also offer plenty of interesting choral works.
It could even open the idea of collaborating with a living poet as well. Finzi’s setting of poems by Robert Bridges seemed a natural start, and that led me to similar composers in his style. I’d also wanted to include works by Deborah Pritchard in one of our concerts for a while and hoped that she might be able to write a new work for the choir. I knew she had recently composed a setting of ‘My Soul there is a Country’ that would also link to Parry’s wonderful setting. And before long, I was struggling to make sure programme wasn’t too long, which is a nice problem to have! I’m looking forward to starting work with the choir on our next project in February, and hope you will enjoy coming to the concert.
David Todd (Conductor)