Highbury Fields

for chorus and orchestra

Brian Inglis

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for chorus and orchestra

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Composer Brian Inglis
Year of Composition 2013
Duration 22'-23'
ISMN 9790570681198
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-bi1hf1


Soon after being commissioned to compose a work for the Islington Choral Society’s 40th anniversary concert I arranged a meeting with Paul Dornan, choir committee member and professional writer, to discuss the textual aspect of the piece. Paul presented a variety of ideas, which centred around the principle that the text should be a secular one, and should relate to the area where the choir rehearses: the north London park, Highbury Fields. A few obvious models sprang to mind – Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George for the setting and concept, and Orff’s Carmina Burana for a historical reference point in the choral repertoire. Paul also let slip that his friend, the lyricist Charles Hart, might be interested in contributing some words. This immediately attracted me, and Paul, Charles and I met up in summer 2012 to kick around Paul’s ideas and Charles’s and my responses to them.

We agreed that the text should focus on a variety of characters – human and animal; individual and in groups – going about their business during a sunny summer Sunday in the Fields. Charles asked me to create a musical structure which would underpin the textual design; I’d already come up with the idea of a ‘refrain’ (a sequence of unrelated major and minor, augmented, diminished and 7th chords) and various intervening episodes with different moods, so readily agreed. Charles’s text followed in September 2012 after which composition proceeded relatively smoothly, with the vocal score being completed in March 2013.

With thanks to Paul for coming up with such a great concept; Charles for his inspiring text (and consistent good grace in accepting the various cuts and bruises it suffered during my setting of it!); and Michael Bowden and John Leslie, conductor and chairman respectively of ICS, for the advice and support they consistently offered me throughout the development process.

Recorded 30/6/2013, Cadogan Hall: Islington Choral Society/Michael Bowden