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Inspired by the poems of Isaac Rosenberg and commissioned by Bristol2014 with funding from Arts Council England, Dr Liz Lane’s work for Brass Band and Narrator, Silver Rose, has become a real favourite of Lydbrook Band’s players and audiences alike. The five-movement work intersperses music and poetry and includes some of Rosenberg’s more visually dramatic poems. The piece opens with the intriguing line “Snow is a strange, white word” from his poem On Receiving News of the War, immediately drawing the audience into Rosenberg’s world in 1914. Working collectively like a song-cycle, the poems appear before and during each of the movements. The music alternates between the slightly edgy dissonance which punctuates much of Lane’s music and which is extremely effective in conjuring up the confusion and uncertainty of the battle field, and some sublime hymn like melodies. Although not directly programmatic, it follows the tenor of the poetry, for instance rising beautifully from dark to light at the moment of “But hark! Joy – joy – strange joy…” in the fourth movement, Returning, We Hear Larks. The final poem, Song, opens with the work’s title “A silver rose to show Is your sweet face”. It is a tender and reflective movement and yet there remains a subtle reminder of the war always in the background. Rosenberg was killed in action in 1918 and this final movement ends in near silence as a mark of respect to him and all those who lost their lives.

There are two opportunities to hear this beautiful and unusual piece of music this month and Dr Lane has reworked the narration for the first of these. The spoken voice of the narrator has been replaced by a soprano soloist. Representing the voice of women involved in the war, the soprano role shifts from commentary to integration; the poems change from quasi-recitative to being a complete part of the musical texture with the band.

Lydbrook Band perform on Sunday 11th June as part of the weekend long Lydbrook Church Music Festival, which also includes a concert by Wynne Evans, the Go Compare tenor, and again as the band makes its debut at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud on the following Sunday, the 18th, as part of the venue’s brass band series. Both concerts feature a range of music from the traditional to the fun and showcases some of the band’s very fine soloists. The Church Music Festival runs from Friday 9th through to Sunday 11th and includes music for organ and harp and an evening of Welsh music, as well as the band’s concert. Full details of both these events can be found on the website www.lydbrookband.co.uk

Published: 13 June 2017

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