St Mary's Church

Song at St Mary’s with Timothy Dean


To mark the centenary of the end of World War 1, LitFest presents a programme of song containing two of the great English war song cycles.

George Butterworth was killed in action in 1916, and his ‘A Shropshire Lad’, settings of poetry by A E Housman, are full of nostalgia for rural 19th century England, as well as foreboding of darker things to come. Michael Tippett was a pacifist, jailed briefly for his refusal to comply with the authorities, and wrote the song cycle ‘The Heart’s Assurance’ five years after the end of World War 2, after the suicide of one his closest friends. The cycle contains settings of poetry by Sidney Keyes and Alun Lewis, both of whom were killed in action. He described it as portraying ‘love under the shadow of death’.

These elements in the programme are both completed and complemented by a varied selection of French and Russian songs written in the same period, straddling the First Great War, by Duparc, Debussy, Poulenc, Mendtner and Rachmaninov.

The programme will be performed by two outstanding young singers, Rose Stachniewska and Nicholas Hurndall Smith, with pianist Timothy Dean.