Howells ‘Hymnus Paradisi’

7:30 pm, Thu 7 March 2024

Holy Trinity Sloane Square

Hymnus paradisi was composed under heart-breaking circumstances following the death of the composer’s son, Michael, aged nine. As Howells later wrote: ‘The sudden loss of an only son … might impel a composer … to seek release and consolation in a language and terms most personal to him. Music may well have power … to offer that release and comfort. It did so in my case.’ Throughout this deeply moving work, in which the human tragedy of a boy’s death and a father’s grief are enshrined, Howells’ command of choral and orchestral polyphony is masterly.

Elgar Orchestral Songs Op 48, 59 and 60

Elgar’s songs are not often featured in recitals although the song cycle ‘ Sea Pictures’ is well known. That work has orchestral accompaniment and Elgar also orchestrated a few of his other songs. These include ‘Oh, soft was the song’, ‘Was it some golden star’ and ‘Twilight’ from an incomplete set of songs to poems by Sir Gilbert Parker, as well as two songs to words by Elgar himself, paraphrasing Eastern European folk songs, ‘The Torch’ and ‘The River’. Elgar also made an orchestral version of his song ‘Pleading’.

Vaughan Williams Toward the Unknown Region

Three years before Vaughan Williams presented his ‘Fantasia on the theme of Thomas Tallis’ and his ‘Sea Symphony’ (to poems by Walt Whitman) to great acclaim, he had made another setting of Whitman’s – Toward the Unknown Region’. This was first heard in Leeds in 1907 and brought Vaughan Williams’ name to the attention of the public and the critics. The work has the boldness and fervour of his mature works and although relatively short in length, packs a real punch!

Supported by the Herbert Howells Trust and the Elgar Society

Getting there

Holy Trinity Church
Sloane St

Vaughan Williams – Toward the Unknown Region

Elgar – Orchestral Songs Op. 48, 59 & 60

Howells – Hymnus Paradisi


Rebecca Hardwick – Soprano

Emily Gray – Mezzo

Elgan Llyr Thomas – Tenor

Ronald Corp – Conductor

New London Orchestra