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Carol Shortis: Songs of Tho...Embedded video
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Songs of Thomas Moore was written for Baroque Voices, to be performed in a concert alongside Britten's Ceremony of Carols, hence the specific instrumentation of SSSSAA with harp, an instrument that I had very little previous experience of. I have long enjoyed reading the poetry of Thomas Moore, and took Britten's cue to set three of my favourites for this commission.
Thomas Moore (28 May 1779 – 25 February 1852) was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter, and entertainer, now best remembered for the lyrics of The Minstrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer. A friend of Byron and Shelley, Moore was responsible, with John Murray, for burning Lord Byron's memoirs after his death. Many composers have set the poems of Thomas Moore to music, including Benjamin Britten who published his Moore's Irish Melodies in 1960.
Early in his career Moore published Odes of Anacreon (1800), translations of poetry by the Greek poet (B.C. 563–478) who wrote chiefly in praise of love and wine. Moore's poetry was greatly influenced by Anacreon's style, and he became known as Anacreon Moore. Ode LXIII is a fragment of poetry which appears to have been the opening of a hymn: "To Love"
The Origin of the Harp was first published in the third number of Moore's Irish Melodies in 1810, in which he wrote lyrics to a series of Irish tunes. Irish Melodies were enormously popular and established Moore as a contemporary Irish lyricist. In this poem the harp is transformed from "a Siren of old, who sung under the sea", abandoned by her lover. Although primarily referencing Irish folklore, the harp nevertheless represents Ireland itself, and the poem was popular with Irish Nationalists. It subsequently inspired the painter Daniel Maclise, a friend of Moore, to create a large-scale painting of the same name.
Childs Song first appeared in The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore in 1841. It paints an idyllic scene, a dreamy paradise of a garden populated with bees and fauns. It is tempting to think of this as rather saccharine and sentimental, yet perhaps Moore imagined this paradise for three of his children who had already died; his two remaining children also predeceased him in later years. The child sings: "I have a garden of my own/Shining with flowers of every hue/I loved it dearly while alone/But I shall love it more with you."
Commissioned by Baroque Voices with funding from Creative New Zealand.
16 Nov 2013: Alleluia: a newe work! | Baroque Voices