Song of Hope

for unaccompanied mixed choir

Ian Stephens

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for unaccompanied mixed choir

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Composer Ian Stephens
Year of Composition 2020
Duration ca.5'

Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-is1soh1


Commissioned by Manchester Chamber Choir.

I grew up in East Devon, close to Hardy’s own West Dorset stamping-ground, and spent much of my childhood walking and cycling around the West Country, the area that Hardy recast as Wessex. As a teenager I read many of his novels – I still remember the shock of that awful episode in Jude the Obscure – and I was enchanted by his language and by his strong evocations of place and character.

When commissioned by Manchester Chamber Choir during the pandemic of 2020 to write a piece with a positive, forward-looking theme, I turned to Hardy, and his uncharacteristically upbeat poem Song of Hope. One dialect word may need explanation: ‘shoon’ (verse 3, line 2) means ‘shoes’. The words of the poem have proved a fertile launching-off point for my setting, written for the voices of the excellent Manchester Chamber Choir, with which I have sung bass since 2015.

Song of Hope takes about five minutes to perform.

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