The Robin Carol premiered by Granta Chorale

Granta Chorale’s Christmas concert this year was titled ‘Noel!’. Many pieces in the programme contained the word ‘Noel’, ranging in time from anonymous medieval carols to two brand new specially-written carols – Sarah’s The Robin Carol and Janet Wheeler’s Noel, Noel, Noel.

The Robin Carol takes as its starting point the words of the nursery rhyme The North wind doth blow – ‘The North wind doth blow, and we shall have snow, and what will poor Robin do then? He’ll hide in a barn and keep himself warm, and hide is head under his wing’. However, in a departure from the nursery rhyme, the robin sings ‘Nowell’ while he is sheltering from the cold. Later the piece draws parallels between the robin’s need for shelter and humans’ desire for protection, using a plainsong quote from compline: ‘Hide me under the shadow of your wings’.

An image of a robin standing on a twig with berries
Collage by Sarah for Granta Chorale’s Christmas poster

Psappha Composing For Piano Scheme

Sarah is thrilled to be one of six composers participating in Psappha’s Composing For Piano schemes in 2021-2022, writing a piece for pianist Benjamin Powell. The composers will have three workshop sessions over several months, an intervention day and a final recording session in May.

Premiere of To See The Light Of Day – 5th May 2018

Newnham College held an event on 5th May to celebrate the rediscovery of a lost portrait of Hubert Parry which had been found in the attics. Sarah was asked to write a short chamber piece to form part of the concert. Her piano trio To See The Light Of Day: Music For The Rediscovery Of A Portrait quotes Parry’s song You’ll Get There, a setting of words by the Trent Otter (the pseudonym of J.W. Martin, who wrote for The Fishing Gazette). Millicent Fawcett – Parry’s close friend and one of the founders of Newnham College – quotes the second verse of the poem in her book The Women’s Victory and After, so the song provided a musical link between Parry and the college. The piece was premiered by Sophia Ramnarine (cello) and Susanna Alsey (violin) with Sarah at the piano, and together they also played the second movement of Parry’s own Piano Trio in B minor. Voices of Newnham sang You’ll Get There before the premiere.

Sarah had discovered the song in this BBC Radio 3 clip, presented by David Owen Norris, who very kindly provided Newnham with the sheet music for You’ll Get There.