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2017/08/21

Work of the Week: Gerald Barry – Canada

Ludwig van Beethoven and Canada. What do those two have in common?

Gerald Barry’s new work for voice and orchestra, Canada, will have its world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms on 21 August.

Specially commissioned for the Proms, it will be performed by tenor Allan Clayton and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

“Some time ago I was in Toronto airport returning to Dublin. When I got through security, Canada suddenly came into my head: a setting of the Fidelio Prisoners’ Chorus for voice and orchestra.” Gerald Barry

Gerald Barrys Canada – A tribute to Beethoven

The text, in English, French and German, includes the lines “Speak softly! We are watched with eyes and ears” from Beethoven’s politically charged and only opera, Fidelio. Barry holds Beethoven in high regard, considering him to be the greatest composer that ever lived. Many of his own works draw on the letters and works of Beethoven.  These include Schott and Sons, Mainz for bass solo and SATB choir which uses selected texts from Beethoven’s letters to his publisher and Beethoven for bass voice and ensemble which also features excerpts from Beethoven’s personal letters to his “Immortal Beloved”.

“Canada, the name and country, is both everyday and strange to me – exotically normal.” Gerald Barry

Other new works for Barry this season include an Organ Concerto for organist Thomas Trotter commissioned jointly by Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra.

Beethoven would celebrate his 250. birthday in 2020. If you’re still looking for suitable musical programme, you’re invited to have a look at the recent Schott journal for inspiration.