poppies 1In 2018 Tamsin collaborated (for the second time) with composer Cheryl Frances Hoad on a song cycle for baritone Marcus Farnsworth and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The work, Last Man Standing, was commissioned for the World War 1 Armistice Centenary and was premiered on 30th November 2018 at the Barbican Hall.  The programme also included Vaughn Williams's Fourth Symphony, inspired by his wartime service in the Medical Corps, and Arnold Bax's 1917 tone poem 'November Woods'. 

Reviews

"What a premiere! Incredible, touching masterful work by Cheryl Frances-Hoad & Tamsin Collison, superbly performed by Marcus Farnsworth, Paul Michael Hughes' magnificent BBCSO and Martyn Brabbins conducting for the second night in a row for me. Not forgetting Kenneth Richardson's lean, telling staging. Bravi Tutti!"  Bill Bankes-Jones, Tete a Tete Opera Company

“The combination of text to music is brilliant.  The relationship of the voice and words to the orchestra 'support' is so fine.  The composer found a marvellous means of 'accompanying' the voice, never covering it, and letting us hear the words so beautifully.....   That is an art form unto itself”.  Robert Moran, Composer

"The text by Tamsin Collison is direct, clear and pulls no punches. "Rats as big as cats grow fat/On the flesh/Of fallen friends/And lice feast on the sluggish blood/Of those men left alive’. Matching the forcefulness of Collison’s words is music by Frances-Hoad which is highly dramatic, beautifully scored and full of imaginative touches, with quotations from popular songs of the period used in strikingly pungent orchestral contexts. The vocal line was negotiated by Marcus Farnsworth with skill, beauty of tone and strong characterisation. The playing seemed utterly assured under Brabbins’s direction, and altogether it was an impressive contribution to the series of events that have marked the centenary of the end of the Great War."  Alan Sanders, 'Seen & Heard International'

"The outstanding concert – probably of the year, actually – was the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins conducting Arnold Bax's November Woods, a Vaughan Williams symphony and the premiere of a monodrama by Cheryl Frances-Hoad - 'Last Man Standing' - for baritone solo (Marcus Farnsworth) and orchestra.  It’s a WW1 commemoration piece - quite the best piece of its type I’ve heard. I saw the War Requiem at English National Opera – this wiped the floor with it. It’s such an interesting piece and so exciting to discover a composer who really understands a) how to write for the voice but b)  how to use that with orchestra so that it’s not smothered by great big sound.  And does drama! She knows how to write drama!"  David Benedict, 'Saturday Reveiw', BBC Radio 4

Commissioned by the BBC, Cheryl Feances Hoad's monodrama for baritone and orchestra 'Last Man Standing' (2018) incorporates a series of settings of fifteen concise, highly-charged poems by Tamsin Collison, sung by an anonymous British soldier of no fixed rank - an 'Everytommy', who experiences the full horrors of war... Assisted by the honesty and directness of Collison's writing, Marcus Farnsworth was extremely effective in a complex role to which he brought emotional commitment and genuine personality...In addition to deft use of pre-exisiting material, the score was notable for its subtlety and unerring sense of colour and mood-painting.  Frances Hoad provided an emotional backdrop to Collison's text, as her music expressed the intinal euphoria of going to war and then the reality of the situation, with its langour, terror, despair, grief and resignation.  There was an impressive sense of structure and pacing, the text settings judiciously interspersed with vivd orchestral interludes, and the whole piece framed by haunting evocations of blackbird song... This bold and sensitive score is too impressive an achievement to be regarded as merely an occasional piece.  It deserves a permanent place in the repertoire, and not just on the concert platform: its authentically dramatic qualities suggest it could easily be staged as a fully-fledged operatic work.  Paul Conway, 'Musical Opinion' Magazine

 

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