Three Cornish Songs (TTBB version)

for male voice choir and piano

Ian Stephens

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for male voice choir and piano

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Composer Ian Stephens
Year of Composition 2014
Duration ca.14'
Categories (all composers) , ,
Catalogue ID ce-is1tcs2


Three Cornish Songs was commissioned by my father Nicholas Stephens, a partial Cornishman, a keen singer in various choirs in Cornwall, and a lifelong sailor. In it I’ve set three poems by the great Cornish poet Charles Causley (1917-2003).

Elizabethan Sailor’s Song

John Polruddon

The Seasons in North Cornwall

Something of the windswept, salt-drenched nature of the Cornish coast – a land that I have known and loved since earliest childhood – has made its way into this music. Each song has a sharply drawn character, from the modern-day lute-song of ‘Elizabethan Sailor’s Song’ to the galloping tale of suspense and cliff-top abduction of ‘John Polruddon’. (In July 2017 I sailed with my father past the very cliffs, above Mevagissey, where John Polruddon lived before he was snatched away to sea by Frenchmen at the time of Henry VII.) And finally, a passionate meditation on the passing of the year from North Cornwall, with the Atlantic to the west glimmering and raging by turns.

I originally wrote Three Cornish Songs for male voice choir and piano, then later made a version for mixed voice choir and piano. Both versions are equally valid.

The version for mixed voice choir and piano is available here.