Songs of Love and Exile

Programme Note

The four songs of Songs of Love and Exile explore themes of isolation and examine different aspects of longing, romantic and otherwise. The first two songs set extracts of Anglo-Saxon poems from the 10th-century Exeter Book, in a 19th-century translation by Benjamin Thorpe. The narrator of ‘The Seafarer’ recounts his hard and lonely life at sea, and contrasts that with the luxurious and decadent life he imagines city dwellers enjoy. By contrast, ‘The Husband’s Message’ is narrated by a piece of wood; on the wood is carved a message from a husband who has been exiled, and who implores his wife to come and join him in his new home.

The last two songs set extracts from William Davenant and John Dryden’s version of The Tempest, which, for about 150 years from the late 17th century until the early 19th century, was the most performed version of Shakespeare’s play. Davenant and Dryden’s version transforms the play into a relatively straightforward comedy, and adds a number of new characters. In ‘Miranda and Dorinda Discover the Existence of Men’, Prospero’s two [sic] daughters have spent their whole lives exiled on an island, and are excited to make their first (unconfirmed) sighting of a man other than their father. Another character added by Davenant and Dryden is Milcha, Ariel’s girlfriend. In ‘Ariel’s Lovesong’, Ariel, finally freed from Prospero’s spell, calls to Milcha, and anticipates their reunion.

Performances

6th May 2022
High Holborn Chamber Choir, Rachel Maby
The Swiss Church in London (The Husband’s Message and Ariel’s Lovesong)

7th March 2020
Devon Philharmonic Chorus, Leo Geyer
Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter (The Seafarer)

4th April 2019
Bowes Park Community Choir, Matthew Hardy
Rhodes Avenue Primary School, London (Ariel’s Lovesong)

Year: 2022
Duration: 12′
Instrumentation: SATB

I – The Seafarer
II – The Husband’s Message
III – Miranda and Dorinda Discover the Existence of Men
IV – Ariel’s Lovesong