Southampton University’s Christmas Concert (with Lear-related Music & Lecture)

Southampton University Chamber Choir gives its Christmas Concert on Friday December 10th in Turner Sims at 8pm, conducted by Simon Pettite.

Beautiful Christmas choral music by Josquin (who died 500 years ago) and Sweelinck, plus the first performance of David Owen Norris’s new piece Letters from Lear: a musical portrait, with the tenor Mark Wilde and Helen Sanderson, guitar.

Niki Demetriou, Martha Raban and Hope Felts-King are taking part too, along with Mark’s daughter, Heather.

By a happy coincidence, the grandfather of Professor Francesco Izzo translated Edward Lear’s Nonsense Rhymes into Italian, and Francesco will be reading some of them at the concert, in Italian. We can guess which famous limerick each might be!

And there’ll be a few Christmas surprises too. I hope you might be able to come. Student tickets are £5.

More information at Turner Sims’s “Christmas with Edward Lear

Here is a preview of David Owen Norris’s Letters from Lear: a musical portrait:

Music students and staff are very welcome to a 45’ talk by Dr. Sara Lodge on Thursday 9th December at 4pm on Avenue Campus, in Lecture Theatre C:

‘Bongs, Dongs and Nonsense Songs: Edward Lear’s Music’

Edward Lear (1812-1888) is well known as a writer and illustrator of nonsense verse for children, such as ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat’. But few know that Lear was also a gifted musician and composer, who wrote and published twelve song-settings of his friend Tennyson’s poems . He was also an entertainer, who delighted in setting fresh words to old tunes for comic effect. Indeed, his nonsense poems were all originally songs. This talk will explore Lear’s love of music, his musical compositions, and what an understanding of his musical milieu can tell us about his poetry.

Sara suggests that before her talk, we might have a look at ‘The Owl and the Pussy-cat‘, ‘The Jumblies‘, ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose‘, and ‘The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo‘. All of these can be found online at which also has a number of useful links to other resources on Lear:

Sara Lodge is a Senior Lecturer in English at the University of St Andrews, specialising in nineteenth-century literature and culture. She has broadcast on Edward Lear on Radio 3 and RTE Lyric FM and is the author of an interdisciplinary study Inventing Edward Lear (Harvard UP, 2018), which was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2019. She has recorded all of Lear’s music, making it available to the public for the first time, with the help of pianist David Owen Norris and various singers. Her research has also revived many lively contemporary settings of Lear’s songs by Victorian female composers, showing how Lear’s nonsense was interpreted musically in his lifetime and how he responded positively to these creative interpretations.

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