Commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects for their 150th anniversary

  • 1(pic)12(sx)1/0210/2perc/gtr.bjo.hp/str(00111)
  • SATB
  • Coloratura Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Baritone, Bass Baritone
  • 34 min
  • Libretto by A.N. Wilson
  • English

Programme Note


A disconsolate Britannia sits on her architecturally unadorned island and bemoans the lack of shelter for her children. Enter a wizard, bringing promise of salvation in the form of a personified St. Paul’s Cathedral, but Britannia refuses his offer of help. The wizard abandons her (and the soprano cathedral) to a chorus of belligerent birds, who threaten to destroy both Britannia and Wren’s building. Jove descends to save the situation and deliver the moral of the Masque: Teach us to build that we avoid the hate and scorn of men and women yet unborn.


The masque deals with British architecture from medieval times to the present days and includes St. Paul’s Cathedral sung by a coloratura soprano.

Oliver displays his mastery of pastiche and parody in his setting of A.N. Wilson’s witty libretto. The score draws on models ranging from Handel and Purdell to Arthur Sullivan, with its vocal and dance sections including a Bransle, a Siciliana, a Saltarello and a Chaconne.