Five Travelling Songs David Lumsdaine
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These songs originated in 1953, and though the original manuscripts were lost, they have stayed in my ear; so they’re ‘travelling songs’ in the sense that I’ve carried them round with me in my journey across the years. Warning to Children was one of ‘5 Moral Songs’ for tenor, male voice choir and two pianos, composed just after my first arrival in England. Another of those songs, a setting of J Joyce’s Ballade of Persse O’Reille resurfaced in 1982 for a concert given by students at Kings College, London. This version of ‘Warning’ has been radically re-imagined for the choir, yet retains the quodlibet style of jostling counterpoint which characterised the original.
The other four songs were originally part of a sundry collection which arose, in November 1953, as tunes which could be sung by the friend I lived with and myself, to revive our spirits during my first season of London fogs. (The collection was referred to then as ‘undaunted songs’.) A number of these, including Roman Wall Blues and Three Young Rats appeared in June 1982 as part of the collection ‘What shall I Sing?’ for soprano and 2 clarinets. They’re not only travelling songs, but very adaptable, too.
DL, York, 2012.
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