A setting of Edward Thomas’s Adlestrop
fp. 12 June 2010; Choir of The Queen’s College Oxford, Owen Rees, Simon Desbruslais (tpt), The Queen’s College, Oxford, UK
Lon.p. 24 March 2011; Choir of Selwyn College Cambridge, Nicholas Cleobury, Onyx Brass, St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street, London, UK
Scotland.p. 19 October 2011; Choirs of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and St Andrew’s Universities, Michael Bawtree, Pure Brass, Holy Trinity Church, St Andrews, UK
Commissioned by The Choir of The Queen’s College Oxford.
A recording of this work is available on Phillip Cooke, Choral Music released on Regent Records, REGCD411 and available to buy here.
Invocation is published by Novello, and can be purchased here.
Invocation was written for the Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford and represents the culmination of my time as a research fellow at the college, and my time working closely with the choir. It is the third work I have written for the choir, the first being an anthem Wither Thou Goest and the second being a setting of the college Grace (both written in 2008).
The work was written for the summer concert, traditionally a lighter affair then the Christmas and Easter concerts, and this directly affected both my choice of text and musical materials for the piece. I had long been a fan of Edward Thomas’s evocative poem, Adlestrop with its dreamy pastoral feel invoking the very essence of a sultry English country afternoon. The poem seemed a natural choice to set, not least because of the summer theme but also because it mentions the two counties that I have spent the last seven years in, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It is also about a disused railway station – one of my more anorakish hobbies.
I wanted the work to further emphasise the link with everything we might class as a stereotypical English country afternoon – cricket on the green, church bells, birdsong and warm beer – all the things we might sneer as being the mythical ‘middle-England’. My work in no way tries to depict this, rather to distil the essence of this feeling – it is a rhapsody on a theme of quaint English country life, the kind of life men went to war to preserve and something very different to the more rugged landscape I grew up with in the Lake District. I called the work Invocation, because it is precisely that, a spell or charm, something that bewitches the listener and that I hope stays long in the mind, rather like Adlestrop or indeed Adlestrop itself.