The BBC Concert Orchestra and its Conductor Laureate Barry Wordsworth will give the world premiere of the orchestral Suite from The Unicorns by Peter Dickinson in a concert at Snape Maltings, Suffolk, on August 23 that also includes a rarely heard work by Lord Berners. The concert is dedicated to the memory of Peter Dickinson, who died in June at the age of 88.
The Unicorns has its roots in a concert suite for soprano (Elisabeth Söderström) and brass band composed in 1967 and based on an earlier unrealised opera to a libretto by John Heath Stubbs. In the story, two opposing countries compete in rival expeditions to capture a pair of African unicorns prized for the magical properties of their horns. The orchestral suite takes five episodes from the story, culminating in the heroes’ escape to the paradise of the Island of St Brendan.
The concert at Snape Maltings will also feature a rare performance of the Lord Berners ballet score A Wedding Bouquet with Zeb Soanes as narrator. Its inclusion is particularly apt as Dickinson was a longstanding champion of Lord Berners’ work, most notably as his biographer - Lord Berners - Composer, Writer, Painter was published by Boydell and Brewer in 2008.
A Wedding Bouquet was composed in 1937 and first performed at Sadlers Wells featuring set design and costumes by Berners and choreography by Frederick Ashton. Constant Lambert conducted and the star-studded cast included Margot Fonteyn and Ninette de Valois. The scenario – also by the composer, based on the opening pages of a play by Gertrude Stein – echoes Stravinsky’s Les Noces and is set at a French provincial wedding.
A new study score of A Wedding Bouquet edited by Philip Lane and David Lloyd-Jones and published by Chester Music Ltd is now available on sale.
The performance of A Wedding Bouquet is supported by the Lord Berners Trust, which exists to support and promote the work of Lord Berners. For more information about the Trust contact firstname.lastname@example.org