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This lecture recital will consider Ralph Vaughan Williams’ settings of 6 sonnets by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1904). The first of these to be composed was ‘Silent Noon’; singer Julia Hollander and pianist Peter McMullin will focus on this song, its relationship to the rest of the cycle and especially the theme of silence. They analyse the ways Vaughan Williams’ music depicts silence, and consider the role of Rossetti as both painter and wordsmith: calling on both our listening and our (silent) visual powers. The live performance context is an important aspect of the event, as we witness how responsibility for noise-making passes back and forth between audience and musicians or how a pause inside a song serves the story-telling and the mood. In real time, the performers demonstrate how silence works between one song and the next, and its ultimate resonance at the end of the cycle.
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