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Five Lullabies

for SATB choir or vocal ensemble

Year:  1989   ·  Duration:  14m

Year:  1989
Duration:  14m

Jack Body

Composer:   Jack Body

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Jack Body 70th Year Tribute...

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Jack Body: Five Lullabies -...

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Jack Body: Lullaby IV from ...

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Sample Audio

Sample: 1:59 - 2:59 from 'Lullaby 1'

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Sample Score

Sample: Page 1

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Risky, perhaps, to create a set of 'Lullabies', if one wants to avoid sending an audience to sleep! But a lullaby might not always be soporific, if we consider the state of mind of the singer, who may be singing as much for themselves, projecting onto the child their own anxieties, frustrations, aspirations, hopes.

The musical language tries to suggest a folk-like simplicity; the invented languages likewise hinting at distant regions, no. I African perhaps, II Turkish, III Latinate, IV Pacific. In the final movement, the word 'Calumbaya' is borrowed from the name of a Filipino friend's barrio, a name so euphonious as to be irresistible.

Invariably, mature age is a time for surrendering to seductive nostalgia and sentimentality, the very things one had previously studiously avoided. But the challenge is to find true beauty in the banal, and mystery in common cliché, something I attempted in my several settings of old songs, remembering my dear, departed paternal grandmother, and also my hale and hearty 100 year-old father, whose musical tastes extend little further than old style tunes like these.

Five Lullabies was composed in 1989 as a tribute to Peter Godfrey on his retirement, and was first performed in its entirety by the Tudor Consort. Musically, they were partly inspired by my discovery of the wonderful vocal polyphonies of some of China's minority cultures, sometimes characterised by the so-called 'dissonant' interval of a 2nd being held to resonate as a consonant.

Dedication note

Composed as a tribute to Peter Godfrey upon his retirement

Text note

Words are "invented" languages with no semantic meaning

Performance history

20 Mar 1991: Performed by the Tudor Consort conducted by Simon Ravens at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Wellington

16 Oct 2010: Performed by the Song Company, Roland Peelman (conductor)

01 Jul 2011: BBC Singers

28 Feb 2012: BBC Radio 3 - Afternoon on 3

30 Apr 2014: Performed by Callum Blackmore and Timothy Carpenter at the Jack Body 70th Year Tribute concert, Music Theatre, Auckland University.

24 May 2015: Jack Body Memorial Concert

A set of contrasted lullabies for SATB choir, inspired by the composer's researches into the vocal musics of China's minority cultures. The texts are of "imaginary languages", invented by the composer.

Recorded by Ars Nova Copenhagen, conducted by Paul Hillier, for their 2011 CD release <i>a bridge of dreams</i>

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