World première performance of Cantus Maris by Francis Pott
Monday 1 May 2017 sees the long-awaited world première performance of Cantus Maris (Song of the Sea) by LCM’s Professor of Composition, Francis Pott.
The 25-minute work for mezzo-soprano solo, chorus and orchestra will open a concert which also features the famous Requiem Mass setting by Brahms. It was commissioned to mark the 70th anniversary of the Guildford-based Vivace Chorus (formerly the Guildford Philharmonic Chorus). Fortuitously, the event falls in a year when Pott and the conductor of the Vivace Chorus, Jeremy Backhouse, celebrate their respective 60th birthdays and also mark 30 years of friendship.
Cantus Maris will be performed at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London, by the Canada-based British mezzo-soprano Sarah Fryer, the Vivace Chorus in partnership with the London Chorus, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Jeremy Backhouse.
It is Pott’s third work for chorus and orchestra, the first being a 70-minute oratorio, A Song on the End of the World, taking its title from a poem written in Nazi-occupied Warsaw by the Polish poet Czesław Miłosz; this was the widely-acclaimed Elgar Commission of the Three Choirs Festival at Worcester Cathedral in 1999, again involving both Sarah Fryer and the Philharmonia Orchestra.
A more recent work, The Lost Wand, collated poetry in German and English by Hermann Hesse, Karen Gershon and Vernon Scannell. This meditation on the impact of war upon innocent civilians, especially children, was commissioned by Friends of Hampshire County Music in 2015. It was presented as part of a collaborative project commemorating the Second World War in Europe and affirming friendly modern ties between Britain and Germany, while also remembering children caught up in contemporary conflicts worldwide. The Lost Wand received its world première in Winchester Cathedral in January 2016, when the Choir of the Liebigschule in the German city of Giessen (twinned with Winchester) collaborated with the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra. A reciprocal second performance by the same performers was then held in Giessen the following month.