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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Hepton Singers: Myths, folk songs and part-songs

One of West Yorkshire’s most popular chamber choirs, the Hepton Singers presents an eclectic evening of Northern European classical music at Heptonstall Church on Saturday 6 July.

Hepton Singers

Photo: Blu Planet

An exciting, central element of the concert is the dramatic and lively modern piece, Kullervo’s Message by the Estonian composer Veljo Tormis. Originally commissioned by the Hilliard Ensemble, the piece describes an episode in the life of Kullervo, the only irredeemably tragic character in The Kalevala, a 19th-century work of Finnish epic poetry compiled from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.

Abandoning the Baltic, we turn to beautiful English folk-song arrangements by Amy Bebbington and sublime reworkings of Scottish folk songs by James MacMillan.

Conductor Alison West says, “The great majority of Tormis’s choral pieces are based on Estonian folk songs, so it was a logical step to include folk-song settings in our programme. As Veljo Tormis himself said, ‘It is not I who makes use of folk music, it is folk music that makes use of me.’”

The Scottish theme continues Thea Musgrave’s Song Of The Burn and A Hoy Calendar by Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies, which describes a year on the Orkney island of Hoy. Similarly, Sally Beamish’s Bird Year is a description of the four seasons, each represented by a particular bird.

Ever keen to mine the musical history of the British Isles, the choir will also finish with settings of Elizabethan songs by Vaughan Williams, part-songs by William Byrd and songs from even earlier by William Cornysh, including a xenophobic drinking song from the early 1500s.

The 35-strong Hepton Singers rehearses in Hebden Bridge, is conducted by Alison West and performs around four times a year, its main concerts being in Heptonstall Church.

The concert starts at 8pm. Tickets are £8/£6/£1 (under 26) and can be purchased on the night.

For more information visit www.heptonsingers.co.uk