The City Pierrot Ensemble present their second concert in our online 2021 Summer Sounds festival, including a performance of Peter Maxwell Davies' notorious monodrama and works by Simon Bainbridge, Soosan Lolavar and Ian Pace, with soloists Benedict Nelson and Georgia Mae Bishop.
Emblematic of Davies' incandescent creativity in the late 1960s, Eight Songs for a Mad King continues to shock and thrill audiences with its visceral theatricality. A soloist of implausible expressive and vocal range presents himself as George III, surrounded by an aviary of musicians representing the King's caged songbirds - and his crumbling psyche.
The evening also includes a tribute to the late Simon Bainbridge, with a performance of the influential composer's deeply moving settings of the poetry of Primo Levi, and Soosan Lolavar's Girl, an exploration of cultural memory, place and time, based on a fragmented Iranian folk melody.
Ian Pace's new work Matière: Le Palais de la mort, inspired by visions of the piano playing of Emily Brontë and the musical/sonic dimensions of the Brontë family, completes the programme.
This event will be broadcast live and available to view via the YouTube stream below, or by clicking here.
Ian Pace, Matière: Le Palais de la mort (2021) (WP)
Peter Maxwell Davies, Eight Songs for a Mad King (1969)
Benedict Nelson, baritone
Georgia Mae Bishop, mezzo-soprano
Joshua Ballance, conductor
The City Pierrot Ensemble
The City Pierrot Ensemble is built around an outstanding core of musicians working at the Department of Music at City, including some who played in the earlier ensembles, The Pierrot Players and The Fires of London.
The ensemble gave its debut performance in 2017 with Schoenberg's epochal expressionist song cycle Pierrot Lunaire (with guest soloists Alwynne Pritchard and Adam de la Cour), alongside the rarely heard theatre piece by Michael Finnissy, Mr Punch, and Roger Redgate's Pierrot on the Stage of Desire.
They are resident at the Department, where their subsequent performances have included explorations of the late chamber music of Debussy, Berg, Webern and Zemlinsky, overlooked works by French composers Jolivet, Schmitt and Milhaud, and Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time.