ALL GOD'S CREATURES op.468 (August 1994)

Song-cycle for children's voices and orchestra (with optional projected film )
Published by: Highbridge Music Ltd
Commissioned by: Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate their 50th anniversary
Instrumentation: 2(I+II=picc).2.2(II=Ebcl).2 - 2221 - timp - perc(2): tgl/large susp.cym/tam-t/SD/conga/(wind machine)/ratchet/t.bells/2 anvil/cyms/thunder sheet/tamb/BD/whip/glsp/mar/bell tree - pno(=cel) - organ - harp - strings
[Key to Abbreviations]
Note on Lyrics: Text: William Blake, Lord Tennyson, John Bunyan, Robert Browning, Anon, Book of Job, Lewis Carroll, Christina Rossetti, Thomas Hardy (Eng)
Duration: 27:15
First Performance: Guildford Cathedral 22 and 23 March 1995 The Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra and massed children’s chorus conducted by Howard Blake.
Sheet Music Available
Piano / Vocal score for sale
Vocal score for sale
Full score for hire
Study score for hire
Orchestral parts for hire
Recordings Available
CD of a live performance available on request

Movements

  • Prologue: A Robin Redbreast in a Cage

    An extract from William Blake's 'Auguries of Innocence'

  • 1: The Tiger

    Poem by William Blake from 'Songs of Experience'

  • 2: The Lamb

    Poem by William Blake from 'Songs of Innocence'

  • 3: The Owl

    Poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

  • 4: The Snail

    Poem by John Bunyan

  • 5: Rats

    An extract from 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' by Robert Browning

  • 6: The Swan

    Anon.

  • 7: Leviathan

    Verses from 'The Book of Job' (from the King James Bible)

  • 8: The Crocodile

    Poem by Lewis Carroll

  • 9: The Swallow

    Poem by Christina Rossetti

  • 10: The Oxen

    Poem by Thomas Hardy

  • Epiologue: Hurt No Living Thing

    Poem by Christina Rossetti

Notes

Settings of classic texts on the subject of animals. A work suggested by Kathy Atkins, manager of the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra.

Composer's note:

The work begins with an excerpt from William Blake's 'Auguries of Innocence' spoken by children over the sound of the orchestra, leading dramatically into the first song. 'The Tiger' and then to a gentle setting of 'The Lamb'. Tennyson's 'The Owl' is treated sardonically ('warming his five wits') and 'The Snail' of John Bunan very smoothly, featuring a solo violin. 'Rats' are squeaky, noisy and rumbustious, but 'The Swan' follows with grace and peace, led by the harp. The seventh song takes a passage from the Book of Job - 'Leviathan'. Is it a whale or a sea-monster or a dragon?. The music conjures up a picture of a giant whale, using organ, full brass and even a thunder sheet! The eighth song summons up Lewis Carroll's smiling crocodile of the Nile, using conga drums and marimba; then follows 'The Swallow' by Christina Rossetti, a swooping evocation of flight and sun, and 'The Oxen' by Thomas Hardy. The work ends as it began with children speaking over orchestral sounds, now very quiet, the words again by Christina Rossetti:'Hurt no living thing'.

Note by HB on option to project film (2019):

In the summer of 2010 I decided to shoot some film inspired by the songs and started with tigers at the wonderful Kolmården Wildlife Park, a huge zoo overlooking Bråviken bay in Sweden. I then made a trip to Lofoten Island off the coast of Norway to shoot the whale sequence with my son Christopher. Back in London I met film-maker John Mills who offerred to continue filming in Surrey and Sussex, and made beautiful sequences for The Lamb,The Owl,The Snail,The Swan and his final contribution 'Swallows' shot in Northern France. I had meant to continue the film but became pre-occupied with a film of another song-cycle,'The Land of Counterpane' which was made by animator Mark Reeve and film-maker Emmet Elvin. In summer 2019 I asked Emmet to help me complete 'All God's Creatures. He created the stained-glass images for The Oxen and together we shot 'Hurt no living thing', The Crocodile and the animal roundabout, used for the title sequences, at London Zoo.

Performances

8th December 2019 Jonathan Willcocks,conductor,The Mid-Sussex Sinfonia and Sussex Children's Choir, The Dolphin Hall, Haywards Heath,3.00pm

This is a programme of music by Howard Blake, OBE.FRAM, who will be attending the concert to talk about 'All God's Creatures', 'The Snowman', 'Sussex Prelude' and other works he wrote at the time when he lived and worked in Highbridge Mill, Cuckfield, Sussex. 

17th May 2015 RSNO Junior Chorus Showcase, RSNO with conductor Christopher Bell, 17th May 2015 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
8th March 2008 Cantilena Choir and Co-op Concentio Youth Choir, Helen Burrows (piano and violin),soloists tba, Quay Church, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 7.30

A programme of Howard's music in his great-grandfather's Suffolk chapel - Quay Chapel,Woodbridge, including: Pennillion, Walking in the Air, To Sleep, Dances for Piano Duet, A Toccata of Galuppi's, Faith Alone, Holy Mary,Mother Mild, The Duellists Theme (for flute), Dirge for Fidele, Farewell My Gentle Harp, Winterdream, Make-believe. Directed by Helen Burrows.

30th June 2007 Cleveland Philharmonic Choir and Mowbray Orchestra, conductor John Forsyth, 7.30pm, Middlesborough Town Hall

A performance coupled with Carl Orff's 'Carmina Burana'

16th May 1999 Young People's Chorus, New York, New York, USA
19th April 1997 Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Schools choir and orchestra conducted by Helen Mitchell, The Usher Hall, Edinburgh
31st October 1995 Surrey Youth Music & Performing Arts, Surrey County Youth Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall
22nd March 1995 Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra and massed Surrey children's choir conducted by Howard Blake, Guildford Cathedral

Related Autobiography Chapters


OBE presented by HRH Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace (1994)

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