• Geoffrey Burgon
  • Shirtless Stephen and the Children's Crusade (2002)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Young People's Chorus of New York City for 'Transient Glory, the Voices of Children', Francisco J. Nuñez, artistic director

  • perc/pf
  • children's voices
  • 8 min

Programme Note

The text for Shirtless Stephen is a set of poems written for a radio play about the children's crusade written by Peter Porter in 1974, and broadcast the same year by the BBC. For production, I set the first poem, calling it The Crusader's March, and wrote several pieces of incidental music. When I was asked to write a piece for The Young People's Chorus, I realised that the subject matter of this play would be ideal and so I have set the five poems that it contains.
The first song tells of the children's leader and is in the form of a march, The music of the second song is gentler, depiucting an evening on the journey. The march is resumed in the third song and illustates the children's resolve. The text of the fourth song is a letter of advice from The Virgin to Stephen. 'Stephen's Final Resolve' is the title of the final poen, which begins 'Where is Jerusalem?', and ends 'I shall make death a dream'.