Womens' Voices 1918

The story of women in WW1: music and readings

Registration is Closed
See other events
Womens' Voices 1918

Time & Location

23 Jul 2018, 13:00

St Marylebone Church, 17 Marylebone Rd, Marylebone, London NW1 5LT, UK

About The Event

Marta Fontanals-Simmons, mezzo soprano

Rosamund Shelley, actor

Gavin Roberts, piano

A new role had been assumed by women during the ‘Great War’, and indeed the Representation of the People Act of 1918 giving women over 30 the right to vote in Britain, went some way towards an equality with men. This programme reflects an international perspective of female voices by including music by Alma Mahler - German composer, and wife of Gustav Mahler; Lili Boulanger - the first female recipient of the Prix de Rome for composition, and sister to the composer and composition teacher Nadia Boulanger; British composers Ethel Smyth, and Rebecca Clarke, and even the lone American voice of Amy Beach. These songs are woven into Benjamin Ellin’s song cycle Letters from Home (2014). The composer writes of the cycle: ‘Royds Hall School in Huddersfield acted as a temporary Military Hospital during the First World War. From the large archive of poems, letters, cartoons and scribblings from soldiers being treated there, five were taken to create the song cycle. It is intended that the use of a female voice represents a universal figure of the mother, the wife, the member of community trying to understand the war just from receiving and reading these ‘letters’. Therefore the mezzo-soprano almost becomes ‘The Woman wot’s left behind’, seeking logic and coming to terms with the aftermath of war’. Between the songs, the words of some more of these female voices will be read; women’s voices from down the ages that were ‘left behind’ in more ways than one.

Ben Ellin, Letters from Home) (song cycle)

Alma Mahler (1879-1964) , Laue Sommernacht (text: Otto Bierbaum)

Alma Mahler , Ansturm (text: Richard Dehmel)

Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) , On the road (text: Ethel Carnie, Songs of a Factory Girl)

Amy Beach (1867-1944) , Cradle Song of the Lonely Mother (piano solo)

Rebecca Clarke , The Cherry Blossom Wand (text: Edith Alice Mary Harper as ‘Anna Wickham’)

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) , Dans l’immense tristesse (text: Berthe Galeron de Calone)