Louise Thomson and Corvus Consort

St Laurence's Church

Fri Jul 29 | 7.30pm
£20 / £10

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Louise Thomson and Corvus Consort

The Programme:

Josef Rheinberger – Wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen

Gustav Holst – Two Eastern Pictures

Hilary Campbell – Our endless day

Esther Swift – Time Spinner (Harp solo)

Amy Beach – Dusk in June (Choir only)

Imogen Holst – Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow

Gustav Holst – Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda (Third Group)

Marcel Grandjany – Rhapsodie (Harp solo)

Olivia Sparkhall – Lux aeterna

Gustav Holst – Ave Maria (Choir only)

John Hearne – Alba

Harpist Louise Thomson and vocal ensemble Corvus Consort recently launched this new collaboration. They both hold a deep affection for the lesser-known and rarely performed repertoire for upper voices and harp and this collaboration enables them to explore and perform the rich and varied programmes of music it offers.

Performances by voices and harp are rarely heard beyond Britten’s wonderful Ceremony of Carols, despite how effective Britten shows this pairing to be in his famous work. This rich and varied programme offers a wide array of musical styles and moods, showcasing the broad range of excellent music that is available to this combination.

Between about 1900 and 1915, Gustav Holst went through a phase of intense interest in the religious literature and poetry of India. His encounters with texts such as the Rig Veda (a set of over 1000 devotional hymns dating from around 1500BC) led him to enrol at UCL to study Sanskrit so that he could produce his own translations designed for musical setting. His Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda, with their evocative realisations of texts in praise of various Vedic deities, date from this period, as does one of his other works featured in the programme, Two Eastern Pictures.

Holst’s grandfather and great-grandfather were both well-known harp teachers, and so it is no surprise that he wrote so well for the instrument. This family history is presumably also what drew Gustav’s daughter, Imogen, to the harp and informed its skilful deployment in her song cycle, Welcome Joy and Welcome Sorrow, six short and atmospheric settings of words by John Keats.

This selection of works from the Holst family sits alongside other items conceived specifically for voices and harp, solo harp pieces and unaccompanied choir items with an emphasis on music by living women composers.

Louise Thomson

A versatile and experienced musician, Louise’s playing has taken her to prestigious concert venues around the UK including the Royal Albert Hall, St David’s Hall in Cardiff and Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. It has also given her the opportunity to perform with some of the country’s most respected ensembles: the Hallé Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra and Manchester Concert Orchestra. She has been invited to perform live on BBC Radio 3, and made her television debut performing live on BBC 1 for the Heaven and Earth show with soprano Katherine Jenkins.

Some of Louise’s early notable successes included winning the Harp Finals at the world renowned Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales Competition in 2003 and performing as a Finalist in the London International Harp Competition in 2005.

After graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music with a Masters Degree (MMus) in 2007, with Distinction in Performance, Louise was immediately invited onto the Live Music Now scheme (founded by Yehudi Menuhin) which involved extensive touring around the country giving solo recitals and educational workshops to an enormous range of audiences.

Louise has a Website

Corvus Consort

The Corvus Consort is a vocal ensemble based in the UK.

Founded and directed by Freddie Crowley, the group draws its members from a pool of young professionals in the early stages of their singing careers.

With key objectives of musical versatility and innovative programming, the Consort performs in a wide variety of genres and styles, stretching from the Renaissance to the present day, and enjoys a range of instrumental collaborations. The ensemble is also flexible in size and forces, so it can be carefully tailored to each particular performance context.

Ongoing collaborations also include a project reimagining Baroque choral works with the Ferio Saxophone Quartet and an improvisatory exploration of Renaissance soundworlds with Music on the Edge.

In collaboration with the Ferio Saxophone Quartet, the Consort made its debut CD recording in November 2021, due for release on Chandos Records the following year. The disc features a set of Baroque and Renaissance vocal works in new transcriptions and arrangements for voices and saxophones, as well as music by living composers reworked for the same forces.

For Christmas 2020, the Corvus Consort commissioned twelve of the UK’s most exciting young composers to write miniature works for a choir of twelve voices based on the well-known song The Twelve Days of Christmas, as part of a festive project entitled Twelve Composers Composing. The resulting works were premièred in twelve short videos released online throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas, and received their live performance premières in December 2021.

In summer 2020 the Consort released two videos, recorded remotely during the first coronavirus lockdown. Their video of J S Bach’s accompanied chorale Jesus bleibet meine Freude with the Ferio Saxophone Quartet was premièred as part of The Sixteen’s ‘Sounds Sublime Online’ festival. The same festival also featured the Consort’s video in collaboration with Music on the Edge, overlaying the Renaissance polyphony of Tomás Luis de Victoria’s O vos omnes with instrumental improvisations.

Since making its first appearance in 2018, the Consort has enjoyed performances at Winchfield Festival, Kings Lynn Festival, Music on the Quantocks and Borough Theatre Abergavenny, as well as becoming Ensemble-in-Residence at the brand new Whiddon Autumn Festival in 2021. Future engagements include the Lamberhurst Music Society, Chiltern Arts, Simonsbath Festival, and planned performances at Buckfast Abbey and Clifton Cathedral.

Corvus Consort have a Website

Freddie Crowley

Freddie is the founder and director of the Corvus Consort.

He is a freelance musician whose career encompasses choral and solo singing, conducting, composing, arranging, recording, producing and teaching.

A member of the 2018-19 cohort of Genesis Sixteen, The Sixteen’s young artists’ programme run by Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan, he also held a 2019-20 Fellowship with the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, and was chosen to be a Making Music Selected Artist for the 2020-21 season.

Freddie graduated in 2018 from Merton College, Oxford, where he read Music as a choral scholar. While at university, he was also a member of jazz a cappella group The Oxford Gargoyles and made frequent musical theatre appearances.

Photo credits: Sara Porter (Louise), Alessandro Tear (Corvus)
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