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Beauty and Love

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The Firth Singers

The Firth Singers is an auditioned choir which draws members from Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and London performing a wide range of repertoire. The group has frequently promoted new compositions, most recently by Liz Dilnot-Johnson, Piers Maxim and Aaron King and has given concerts to raise money for charities, including Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, Ukrainian refugees, the Scoliosis Association UK and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. Performances are usually in the Great Missenden area; in addition they have performed in London, Setúbal (Portugal) and in Malvern Priory.


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Tonight's Team

Concert Programme

Il est bel et bon - Pierre Passereau

Il est bel et bon is a snappy little piece about the earthly pleasures sought by a young wife while her husband tends to their hens. It was written by Pierre Passereau, a French composer who was popular for his of "Parisian" chansons in France in the 1530s. Most of them were "rustic" in character using onomatopoeiadouble entendres, and frequent obscenity, a common feature of popular music in France and the Low Countries in the 1530s.  Listen out for the clucking hens.

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day - William Shakespeare

Read by Katie Francis

Sakura - Andrew Melvin

featuring Inscape Duo

‘Sakura’ is a set of musical variations on an ancient Japanese folksong. The song represents the coming of spring by evoking the image of cherry blossom trees (Sakura) blooming in the countryside.

One verse of the poem (sung in Japanese) reads as follows:


Sakura, Sakura                                                       Cherry Blossoms

Noyama mo sato mo                                           In the mountains, in the village,

Miwatasu kagiri,                                                    As far as the eye can see,

Kasumika kumo ka?                                            Is it fragrance, is it mist?

Asahi ni niou.                                                         Fragrant in the morning sun.

Sakura, Sakura                                                      Cherry Blossoms

Hanazakari.                                                             Flowers in bloom.


The piece is written for choir, piano and harmonica and was first performed by The Castle Choir in 2023. It is dedicated to Nicholas Bannan. 

This piece will be performed in conjunction with a prelude on the Shō, a free reed instrument the design of which precedes the harmonica by 1000 years. The prelude uses a motif based on an ancient Japanese musical scale associated with the spring season.   


Tylers Green Middle School Choir:

The Bright Blue Skies  - Franzeska Ewart and Alison Burns

This is a short song of clouds and silver linings, whose beauty lies in its simplicity.


The Rose -  Amanda McBroom

This song, which deals with the nature of love, was made famous by Bette Midler when she recorded it for her 1979 film The Rose. It’s since been arranged and recorded dozens of times, by artists as diverse as Nana Mouskoura and Westlife.

According to its writer, Amanda McBroom, the idea came to her while she was driving home. By the time she arrived at her house, the song was fully formed in her head, and it took her only ten minutes to write it down.

Les Chansons des Roses - Morten Lauridsen:

La Rose Complète


We are performing two movements from Morten Lauridsen’s elegant, intimate and delicate 1993 choral cycle Les chansons des roses (Songs of Roses) which sets words by Rainer Maria Rilke.  Throughout the cycle, the rose is used as a metaphor for love and in both these movements you can hear Lauridsen’s trade-mark use of recurring motives and a simple harmonic vocabulary which is driven forward by his use of suspensions.

Love You More - James Carter

Read by Tylers Green Middle School Choir

O Love -  Elaine Hagenberg

The words of this hymn were written by George Matheson, a blind clergyman. He said of it that it was written “one summer evening in 1882 … with extreme rapidity; it seemed to me that its construction occupied only a few minutes, and I felt myself rather in the position of one who was being dictated to than of an original artist.  I was suffering from extreme mental distress, and the hymn was the fruit of pain."  That summer evening was the eve of his sister’s wedding and the pain he mentions may have been the memory of his own, earlier love and engagement – an engagement which his fiancée had broken when it became clear that Matheson’s increasing blindness was untreatable. He spent the rest of his life single.

This is a simple, tender yet powerful setting by the American composer Elaine Hagenburg. The Firth Singers first sang it five years ago during a visit to Portugal.

--- Interval ---

The Evening Primrose - Benjamin Britten

This is the fourth of Five Flower Songs Op 47, first performed in the spring of 1950 at Dartington.

Britten’s delicate setting perfectly matches John Clare’s poem – a poem which conjures world in which the evening primrose stands as a metaphor for those who live in obscurity, their beauty, talents and virtues unrecognized.

The Passing of the Year -  Jonathan Dove

Soloists: EJ Wood, soprano; Will Nash, tenor


The Narrow Bud Opens Her Beauty to the Sun

Ah, Sunflower!

Answer July

Jonathan Dove is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary music, and his writing for choral forces is charged with intensity and beauty. The Passing of the Year is dedicated to the memory of his mother and sets seven texts which chart the passing of the seasons.  He captures a mood for each movement through musical soundscapes: a chant-like Invocation marking the close of winter and an impatient desire for spring; the hum and buzz of insects and air thick with pollen in The Narrow Bud Opens; the drowsy heat of summer in Ah, Sunflower! and the excitement of long, hot days in Answer July. Like all Dove’s music, it is hugely approachable, varied and exciting.

All Things Bright and Beautiful - John Rutter

The Firth Singers with Tylers Green Middle School Choir

The words to this well-known hymn, written by Cecil Frances Alexander, were first published in her Hymns for Little Children in 1848.

This setting is vintage Rutter: optimistic, cheerful – one might almost say, bright and beautiful.

She Walks in Beauty - Lord Byron

Read by Nick Prag

Underneath the Stars - Kate Rusby

Soloist: Claire Cullen, soprano

Kate Rusby is an English singer-songwriter from Yorkshire, who is sometime referred to as the Barnsley Nightingale.

This piece appeared on her album of the same name which was released in 2003. Its slightly obscure text is about the meeting and break-up of lovers, all under the gaze of the stars.

It has reached wider audiences and popularity through this arrangement for the group Voces8.

Madamina - Wolfgang Mozart

Martin Robson, bass

"Madamina, il catalogo è questo" is a bass catalogue aria from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni to an Italian libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte and is one of Mozart's most famous and popular arias. It is sung by Don Giovanni's servant Leporello to Elvira during act 1 of the opera. Leporello, who admires the Don at the beginning of the opera, starts the aria by listing the number of ‘girlfriends’ Don Giovanni has had in different countries before going on to categorise them by hair colour, size, stature and social status. All this is, of course, extremely degrading for women, but everything is about to catch up with the Don – his actions do not receive general approval, he goes too far and at the end of the opera he is punished.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes - Jerome Kern arr. David Blackwell

S'wonderful - George and Ira Gershwin arr David Blackwell

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for the 1933 musical Roberta and 'S Wonderful is a popular song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics written by Ira Gershwin. It was introduced in the 1927 Broadway musical Funny Face.

Tonight's performers



Wendy Atkinson

Sue Bottomley

Claire Cullen

Karina Gniazdowska

Kate Golledge

Sophie Hamilton

Claire Kerry

EJ Wood




Katie Francis

Sarah Graham

Anne MacDowell

Catherine Santamaria

Jodie Schloss

Ros Taylor

Joan Veysey

Jo Withers



Steve Corless

Will Nash

Nick Prag

Chris Swinhoe-Standen



Johnny Gibson

Andrew Melvin

Jeremy Moodey

Martin Robson













Evie E

Evie G




Holly L
















Zara A

Zara C

Thank you so much for joining us, we hope you enjoyed the evening.  Next concert:
Sat June15th 2024 at St Mary's, Chesham

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