A GARLAND FOR LINDA
An album to celebrate the life of Linda McCartney, with original music from composers including Sir Paul McCartney and John Tavener
CDC 5 56961 2
On 14 February 2000 EMI Classics releases A Garland for Linda, an album of original music by nine contemporary British composers and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The raison dÍtre for the disc is to commemorate the life of Linda McCartney and to raise funds for cancer research.
The inspiration for A Garland for Linda was A Garland for the Queen, in which ten leading British composers contributed new works for a musical celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953. Vaughan Williams composed Silence and Music for the original tribute. This work appears in first place in the current commemoration.
A Garland for Linda is part of The Garland Appeal, an international cancer charity dedicated to supporting cancer research and the healing power of music. The composers represented are Sir Paul McCartney, John Tavener, John Rutter, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Roxanna Panufnik, Michael Berkeley, Judith Bingham, David Matthews and Giles Swayne. Performing these choral compositions are the Joyful Company of Singers conducted by Peter Broadbent, flautist Philippa Davies and cellist Robert Cohen.
Sir Paul McCartneys writes in the CD booklet, "What happened to Linda happens to many others. We must do all we can to fight cancer. For this reason, I welcome the opportunity, through my music, to raise funds for research to help eradicate breast and liver cancer. I am touched by the musical tributes from the other composers and I am deeply grateful to the performers and organisers of A Garland for Linda. Music does have an extraordinary power to move people and to provide a source of hope. I pray that, through A Garland for Linda, The Garland Appeal can achieve its worthwhile goals to the benefit of music, musicians and cancer sufferers everywhere."
Linda McCartney, who married the former Beatle, Paul McCartney, in 1969, was a celebrated photographer, animal rights campaigner, cookbook author and musician. Her photographs chronicled the musical revolution of the 1960s and 70s; they have been exhibited in 70 cities around the world and have helped to promote the aims of various causes including Greenpeace, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the anti-fur lobby Lynx. In 1989 Linda began to promote the vegetarian lifestyle that she and Paul had long embraced; she wrote cookbooks and launched a range of ready-made meat-free meals. As a musician, Linda performed alongside her husband on a number of albums and on numerous world tours. In the last months of her life, she and Paul completed recordings of songs she had written herself. Despite Lindas many professional credits, she considered her greatest achievement to be her four children: Heather, Mary, Stella and James. Linda McCartney died of cancer in 1998.
A Garland for Linda was premiered at the Charterhouse School in July 1999 at a concert at which all nine living composers were present. The performance officially launched the Garland Appeal, which aims to raise £2 million and to see A Garland for Linda performed at least 200 times world-wide during the next three years. The launch of the album has taken place on 27th January at St Andrews Church in Holborn, London where a special concert has featured all the works on the new album, and was attended by Sir Paul McCartney and several of the other composers.
EMI Classics is donating a royalty from the initial CD release to the Garland Appeal.
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A Garland for Linda
1. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) Silence and Music
Silence and Music, composed to words by Ursula Vaughan Williams, was the fourth of ten works in A Garland for the Queen, in which ten British composers and ten poets paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, the year of her coronation.
2. John Tavener Prayer for the Healing of the Sick
John Tavener, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Lennox Berkeley, among others, was also an extremely gifted pianist but chose composition; his early compositions appeared on the Beatles Apple label.
Against the background of a strict Presbyterian upbringing, he joined the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977 and this strongly influenced his style. The reflective and meditative qualities of his compositions spring both from the Orthodox tradition and from his own experience of illness. The text for Prayer for the Healing of the Sick is by Mother Thekla and is taken from the Russian Orthodox Service of Holy Unction, a service performed for the composer when he underwent open heart surgery in 1991. It is a contemplative piece that the composer intends to be almost inaudible, just like the gentle touch of a hand.
3. Judith Bingham Water lilies
Judith Bingham, who was born in Nottingham in 1952, attended the Royal Academy of Music to study composition and singing. She wrote the poem and the music to Water lilies in March 1999, drawing on her experience of swimming through a raft of water lilies in a mountain lake in Bavaria the previous year. She thought of the flowers during the winter and realised that they were undoubtedly frozen, the buds suspended in ice. But she also knew that they would bloom again the following summer and she saw this as a parallel with people who are ill, in that hope is possible, even in ones darkest moments.
4. John Rutter Musica Dei donum
John Rutters music has been influenced by Britten, Walton and Howells, as well as by American composers including Copland and Barber. Musica Dei donum is taken from a text known only from Lassuss musical setting, which was first published in 1594. Rutters setting was originally commissioned by Clare College Cambridge but the composer wanted to contribute it to A Garland for Linda because of its theme of the power of music to uplift sad minds.
5. David Matthews The Doorway of the Dawn
David Matthews, whose Fifth Symphony was premiered at the 1999 Proms, has studied with Anthony Milner, Nicholas Maw and Deryck Cooke. He also worked with Benjamin Britten for three years and is an admirer of Michael Tippett, about whom he has written a book.
David Matthews met Paul McCartney in 1995 and worked with him on Standing Stone. He also met Linda McCartney, whose optimism and determination to live life to the full made a deep impression on him. He wanted to write a work for her that reflected her fighting qualities. For his text he chose a Pima Indian poem sent to him from Phoenix, Arizona, an area Paul and Linda also loved.
6. Sir Paul McCartney Nova
Nova was written for A Garland for Linda to a text by the composer. To the question Are You there? God where are You? comes the answer I am here in every song you sing. The questioning first stanza is ambiguous in terms of key; the answer, in the second stanza, however, has a clearer tonality and demonstrates McCartneys lyrical and melodic gifts.
7. Roxanna Panufnik Id dreamd
Roxanna Panufnik, who studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Hans Werner Henze, among others, has written a wide range of pieces including opera, ballet, music theatre, choral works, chamber music and music for film and television. She arranged I dreamd from a work she had composed as part of an environmental cantata during the illness of her father, the composer Andrzej Panufnik. Based on the poem by Tennyson, it is a spiritual and uplifting piece that turns from melancholy and desolation to a transcendental vision.
8. Michael Berkeley Farewell
Michael Berkeley - the eldest son of the composer Lennox Berkeley, a contributor to the 1953 A Garland for the Queen - is active as a composer and broadcaster and as Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival since 1995. The musical idea for Farewell, a short valedictory lullaby, preceded the choice of text, which is in the form of reworked fragments of literary ideas from Milton, Shakespeare and Elizabeth Speller. The mood of the work is essentially wistful and gentle with moments of grief.
9. Giles Swayne the flight of the swan
Giles Swayne attended composition classes with Olivier Messiaen after studying at the Royal Academy of Music. His interest in African musical tradition later led him to Gambia and southern Senegal. His latest choral work, Havoc, was premiered at the Proms in 1999.
the flight of the swan was inspired by the death of James Manson, the son of a close friend, from brain cancer in 1996. The poem on which the work is based dates from the ninth or tenth century and was intended as a Sequence, a free composition interpolated in the Mass between the Gradual and the Gospel. It tells of a swan flying across an ocean and blown off course because the stars by which it navigates are hidden by storm clouds. But the swan struggles bravely on and when dawn breaks and the clouds part, it regains confidence and soars into the open sky.
10. Sir Richard Rodney Bennett A Good-Night
Richard Rodney Bennett studied with Lennox Berkeley, Howard Ferguson and Pierre Boulez. His works are known for their richness of invention. In the 1960s his enthusiasm for jazz prompted him to write a number of works in a sophisticated jazz style. He is also a gifted pianist, excelling in the classical and jazz repertoire. Recent works include Calico Pie, a setting for chorus of five poems of Edward Lear and Reflections on a 16th Century Tune.
A Good-Night, composed to a poem by Francis Quaries, is a simple and gentle piece. Richard Rodney Bennett knew Linda McCartney, who he found to be always warm and spontaneous. He wanted this work to be a gentle goodbye to a remarkable woman.
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