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RLS as a boy speaks over the orchestral prologue. The speaker should be about 8 years old
The choir whisper and shout 'gallop and gallop and gallop' while the orchestra hints at the 18th century with a prominent harpsichord part suggesting the highwayman
We hear the 'organ man' play, we hear a 'birdie' sing (represented by a flute)and Japanese and Spanish children playing - all glimpsed in a song lasting less than a minute
Two-part harmony from the choir and from solo violin and cello at the end
Recorded by Roderick Williams on an album called Classic Children's Songs - Amazon
Unison voices with a strong Scottish accent!
The song rattles along at high speed till its final, distant whistle, which leads directly to...
..a slow ballad and gentle evocation of a child's view of the change from light to darkness, from darkness to light
Woodwind conjure up the motion of a garden swing
Off-stage solo trumpet and trombone summon up ancestral memories in an evocation of what is sometimes called the 'akashic record'. The young Stevenson seems to see the whole of past life marching with him as he hovers between wakefulness and sleep
Clarinets shimmer with rippling water and reflections, but at the end lie still as a looking-glass until...
A full choir setting of the title song which segues into...
Themes and echoes are recapitulated as an orchestral coda over which is spoken (as if by Stevenson himself in his mid-thirties)'To Any Reader', a poetic epilogue that expresses both his ability to recapture his childhood memories and his regret at the passing of the years.
The role of Robert Louis Stephenson as a man should be spoken by a male narrator and as a boy by a boy of about 8.
Number 22 of the collection 'Lifecycle' is a piano transcription of the song 'Night and Day'.
NOTE EXTRACTED FROM THE ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON ARCHIVE:
Blake, Howard (1993). ‘The Land of Counterpane’, op. 451.
[First Performance: Usher Hall Edinburgh with David Rintoul and the choir and orchestra of Mary Erskine School conducted by Helen Mitchell 25th March 1995. For boy speaker (RLS as a boy), Male speaker (RLS as a man), children’s chorus,
6 woodwind players, 2 percussionists, 1 keyboard player and strings.]
Prologue: ‘The Land of Counterpane’ (RLS as a boy speaks over the orchestral prologue), 1: ‘Windy Nights’, 2: ‘Singing’, 3: ‘Where go the boats?’, 4: ‘Marching Song’, 5: ‘From a Railway Carriage’, 6: ‘Night and Day’, 7: ‘The Swing’, 8: ‘Young Night Thought’, 9: ‘Looking-glass River’, 10: ‘The Land of Counterpane’, Epilogue: ‘To any reader’ (spoken as if by Stevenson himself in his mid-thirties)
[The work is considered by Blake among his best compositions. It was commissioned by the Mary Erskine School, Edinburgh for their tri-centenary. An animated film was later planned to accompany the music, a script was written and Pat Gavin produced drawings but then The Scottish Film Board pulled out and BBC2 and BBC Enterprises followed them. To be performed 24th March 2007 by the Mary Erskine Choir & Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer at the Usher Hall, Edinburgh, during which a recording will be made. ‘A CD will initially be made available through the Edinburgh school [Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools], but all parties hope it will eventually find its way into full commercial distribution. It is to be launched in September , when the same forces give another live performance to mark the opening of the school’s new £3.5 million Performing Arts Centre.’]
|17th March 2018||Orpheus Sinfonia and massed youth choirs of Taplow Choirs led by Gillian Dibden as part of the Windsor Spring Festival, St, George's Chapel, Windsor Castle 7.30pm|
|31st January 2015||Jersey Orchestra cond. by Howard Blake, St.Helier
Excerpts from Star Wars, The Good,bad and the ugly, Lord of the Rings etc live orchestra with screening
|22nd August 2014||National Girls Choir of Scotland, St Giles Cathedral Edinburgh|
|19th April 2014
- 22nd August 2014
|National Girls Choir of Scotland,|
|24th June 2013||Francis Holland School, Sloane Square, London|
|7th May 2011||Hartsville Civic Chorale, Children's Chorale,High School Singers and Palmetto State Boys Choir, Hartsville, Southern Carolina, USA, West Hartsville Baptist Church|
|5th February 2011||Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conductor Garry Walker, Erskine Stuarts Melville choir, The Usher Hall, Edinburgh, family concert, The Voice of a City, 3.00pm|
|27th September 2009||Cheltenham Cantilena Orchestra conducted by Stephen Belinfante, Cheltenham Town Hall 3.00pm|
|8th July 2008||Smithy Bridge Primary School, Symphony Hall Birmingham
'Windy Nights' only - Music for Youth National Festival
|3rd February 2008||Children's chorus trained by Mary Noyes with The Richmond Orchestra conducted by Philip Hesketh, The German School, Petersham 3pm|
|23rd September 2007||The Mary Erskine Choir & Scottish Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Howard Blake, as part of a concert to inaugurate the new hall, Mary Erskine Arts Centre, Edinburgh
Two perfomances at 3.00 and 7.30
|23rd September 2007||Children's, Boys' and Girls' Choirs from Taplow Choirs and Pure Harmony children's choir (Slough) conducted by Gillian Dibden, Windsor Festival, Taplow Court Concert Hall 5pm|
|25th March 2007||The Scottish Chamber Orchestra & Mary Erskine Choir, conducted by Howard Blake, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Recording to be conducted by the composer
|24th March 2007||Helen Mitchell (conductor) with choir and orchestra of Mary Erskine School, Usher Hall Edinburgh|
|13th April 2000||Berkshire Young Musicians Trust, Gillian Dibden (conductor), Royal Albert Hall
Programmed with 'Carmina Burana' conducted by Christopher Bell
|25th March 1998
- 26th March 1998
|The Ex Corde Choir from the College Chorus, speakers Graeme Gilchrist & Andrew Cubie and First Orchestra, George Watson's College, Edinburgh|
|2nd December 1995||New London Children's Choir & New London Orchestra conducted by Ron Corp, St John's Smith Square|
|25th March 1995||Mary Erskine School choir and orchestra / David Rintoul (speaker) / Helen Mitchell, Usher Hall, Edinburgh|
They were also in the unfortunate position of following pupils from the Erskine Stewart's Melville Schools who impressed with their incredibly crisp and precise articulation of Howard Blake's The Land of Counterpane.
Based on texts from Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, these catchy songs were well-suited to children's voices.
susan nickalls, The Scotsman, 8/2/2011