• Judith Weir
  • The Song Sung True (2013)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by Lawyer's Music in memory of Helen M. Sibthorp, singer and Promenader.

  • SSAATTBB
  • 8 min

Programme Note

The Song Sung True Judith Weir (2013)

1. Sing
2. Song
3. Orpheus
4. Folk Song

Receiving the unusual invitation to write a piece commissioned from a bequest of the late Helen Sibthorp, whom I had not known, I took the earliest opportunity to meet her colleagues at the London Lawyers’ Chorus. They told me about a "spiky, determined” character who complained about all the right things, but never about her long years of ill health, and who "had no time for the system because she had no time – she just got on with it”. She had been a solicitor in London, "a good one”, and a very long-time Promenader, involved in the Promenaders’ charity collections, who once had the distinction of placing the wreath on Sir Henry Wood’s head on the Last Night. "At her cremation they played ‘Fire’ and in the pub afterwards she had asked us to sing ‘Always look on the bright side of life’”. "She was strong, but there was a sensitive woman underneath”.

In looking for some poems to set to music (I had been further advised that "our benefactor was resolutely secular in her approach to life, and so a non-sacred text would be appropriate”) I realised that it was the life-giving activity of singing which had brought us all together; and so all four movements of The Song Sung True are about singing, and lay particular musical emphasis on the words ‘sing’ ‘sang’ and ‘song’. The choir is unaccompanied, and the whole collection lasts around eight minutes.

Judith Weir

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