Our 2014 summer concert is devoted to the decade which includes the First World War. Apart from "In Flanders Fields" none of the pieces we are performing are directly related to the war. But nearly all of them encapsulate a feeling that something is coming to an end and that we are poised on the brink of something new and maybe terrible.
For example. Elgar's setting of Guido Cavalcanti's "Go Song of Mine!" describes in chromatic passages that are both despairing and ecstatic the need for man's hard heart to be broken before he can achieve salvation. In "Serenade" the contrast between dreams of life and liberty and the sadness of reality is expressed
Stanford's "Haven" shows us a shore of such desolate greyness that we can feel the chill.
The concert includes "rest" an early Vaughan Williams setting of a poem by Christina Rossetti in which the poet longs for death as a release from all earthly sensations.
This is not to say that the concert is gloomy! Far from it - the songs are all beautiful and melodic and Stanford's "Blue Bird" shows the skies clearing as the bird of joy flies above. But there's a real nostalgia for earlier, uncomplicated times.
Let's leave the last word to Finzi with his setting of Robert Bridges' "Clear and Gentle Stream":
"Clear and gentle stream!
Who doesn't look back to a time when emotions were simple and the shining future beckoned?
Come and enjoy this evocation of a lost time which includes the essentially English nostalgic occasion - a cream tea