Posted: 24 June 2013
At last, Alan Bush and his music are having a revival. A new all-Bush CD is to be recorded in August 2013 and released by Christmas 2013. Dutton Epoch had an unexpected gap in their recording schedule with Martin Yates and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, who recorded the last all-Bush CD in 2012. The success of that CD led Dutton Epoch to propose to the Alan Bush Music Trust that they issue a new CD, with three new compositions by Alan Bush.
The new CD will include: Africa, Symphonic Movement for solo pianoforte and orchestra, Op. 73 (1972); Symphony No. 2 "The Nottingham", Op. 33 (1949) and Fantasia on Soviet Themes, Op. 24 (1942).
Africa was composed in 1972. It was inspired by the United Nations Resolution of 1972, which "condemned the Government of South Africa for continuing the policies of Apartheid in violation of its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations". It had its première in Halle (GDR) on 16 October 1972, with Alan Bush at the piano and the Halle Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Olaf Koch. The first British performance took place in St. John's Smith Square, London, with Alan Bush (piano) and the London Senior Orchestra, conducted by Terence Lovett. This work has a single-movement comprising a central section flanked by two sections which themselves are flanked by exposition and recapitulation. This central section is the explosive climax of the work, a memory of the Sharpeville shootings when more than 60 black South Africans were shot dead and nearly 200 white South Africans were injured. Bush evokes the African resistance to apartheid by "using snatches of African folk music and suggestions of African dances" (Ronald Stevenson).
Symphony No. 2, "The Nottingham" was commissioned by the Nottingham Co-operative Society for the Quincentenary of the Royal Charter of the city of Nottingham, which was celebrated in 1949. It has 4 movements, each named after a place in Nottingham associated with a different aspect of the life and history of its citizens. Movement 1, entitled "Sherwood Forest", is devoted to the memory of Robin Hood and the sunny open spaces of Sherwood Forest. Movement 2, is entitled "Clifton Grove", and in the introduction, Bush evokes the quietly sonorous, slow moving and peaceful flow of the River Trent. Later in the movement, there is murmurous suggestion of birdsong in Clifton Grove. Movement 3 is the Scherzo of the Symphony and entitled "Castle Rock", and suggests the heroic and often riotous history of Nottingham. Movement 4, entitled "Goose Fair" recalls the happy crowds at the annual fair. The closing section is made more joyous by the sound of bells. The Symphony ends in a mood of purposeful optimism.
Fantasia on Soviet Themes was commissioned by the BBC for the 51st Season of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts and first performed at a Promenade Concert in the Royal Albert Hall, London on 27 July 1945 by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alan Bush. The music is based on five popular Soviet songs: a revolutionary folk-song of the wars of 1919-21, a Collective Farm Song of 1931-35, a Cheerful Song for Solo and Chorus by a Soviet composer, Zacharov, the funeral march for Chapayev, a partisan leader and the Song of Youth for Children's Choir by Isaac Dunayevsky.
We are very fortunate that the internationally renowned pianist, Peter Donohoe, will perform the piano solo in Alan Bush's Africa. In the years since his unprecedented success as Silver Medal winner of the 1982 7th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, Peter Donohoe has built a very successful career as a solo performer, encompassing a huge repertoire and enjoying more than thirty years' experience as a concert pianist. He has performed widely in concerts and recordings with many of the leading orchestras and conductors. For some years, Peter Donohoe has been involved in concerts and recordings which aim to raise the public awareness of the British piano concerto repertoire. He has already made recordings of music by leading British contemporary composers with Naxos, Dutton Epoch and other record companies. This is the first time that Peter Donohoe has performed Alan Bush's piano music. It will also be the first time that Africa has been recorded.
We are now launching an Appeal for Funds and I am sending an e-letter to Supporters with email addresses. This new all-Bush CD will be issued one year after the last very successful all-Bush CD. The success of the Lascaux CD has led to this opportunity to have another all-Bush CD. We are asking our supporters once again to help us raise the money we need to fund it. Anyone who sends at least £25 will receive a copy of the new CD when it is released.
Cheques should be made out to "The Alan Bush Music Trust" and sent to:
Dr. Rachel O'Higgins, Hon. Sec.
Alan Bush Music Trust
7 Harding Way
Please mark your contribution 'Gift Aid', if you wish it to be treated in the way which will enable the Trust to receive a larger sum and you will get tax relief. Thank you for your continuing support of the Alan Bush Music Trust.