Harmoniae Naturales VI, Send my Roots Rain
for four overtone singers, soprano, tenor and orchestra
World premier and recording on February 1st, 2019, 7.30pm at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London W1S 1FX, United Kingdom
The following pledges and rewards are also available: £20 or more, attendance at rehearsal, recording and performance from 2.30pm on February 1st; £50 or more, a recording download and the previous reward; £100 or more, an overtone singing workshop after the performance on February 1st and the previous rewards; £200 or more, a signed score and CD recording and the previous rewards; £500 or more, a personal acknowledgement in the programme and the previous rewards; £1000 or more, a personal dedication in the score and the previous rewards.
Harmoniae Naturales VI, Send My Roots Rain, combines the astonishing and mesmerising sound of four overtone singers with an orchestra of strings, brass, percussion and specially tuned keyboards. In it I have set some of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ most tortured and transcendental words for soprano and tenor.
I have been captivated and amazed by overtone singing from the moment I heard it. As a composer, when I first encountered these magical sounds, I felt inspired and compelled to include them in my music. I was particularly drawn to the sublimely beautiful sound world created by overtone singers such as Rollin Rachele, in which the vocalist amplifies overtones over gentle ground tones.
For this project I have engaged the following stellar array of musicians: soprano Anna Dennis, tenor Daniel Norman (both internationally celebrated opera singers), and overtone singers Rollin Rachele, Wolfgang Saus, Lothar Berger and Jan Heinke (a specialist in the ultra low sub-harmonic throat singing known as kaargira). The Orpheus Sinfonia is joined by a superb line-up of instrumentalists – including Bruce Nockles and Thorbjorn Hultmark on soprano trombone and natural trumpet, and horn soloist Laurence Davies - and is conducted by Simon Wills.
In his Irish Sonnets of desolation, Hopkins plumbs the depths of despair and questions his strict Jesuit faith. Two of these Sonnets form the centre piece of Harmoniae Naturales VI. In the final song, That Nature is a Herecletian Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection, the poet transcends these dark thoughts in a celebration of the eternal energy of the natural world. This is reflected in the transformational sounds of overtone singing and natural harmony.
Anna Dennis will also be the soloist in an earlier Hopkins settings of mine, …like Shining from Shook Foil for soprano and orchestra, and violinist Anna Smith (BBC Symphony Orchestra) will perform Vaughn Williams’ much loved idyll, The Lark Ascending. The connection here is to the first song in my new work, a setting of Hopkins’ The Sea and the Skylark which compares the perfection of nature with the desecration caused by mankind.
As an introduction, the overtone singers will be demonstrating their extraordinary art and performing a cappella.
The performance and recording takes place in St George’s, Hanover Square, London W1S 1FX, UK (Handel’s favoured venue), on February 1st, 2019 at 7.30pm.
This project marks the culmination of a process which has occupied me for more than twenty years. During this time I have developed a series of compositions which explore the wondrous sounds of overtones and natural tuning.
My vision is to continue this journey and expand my output by writing even larger scale works. My long-term plans include overtone operas which would combine conventional singing with overtone techniques. I believe passionately that this form of music can become recognised world-wide, and see the event in February as a launch of something unique and groundbreaking.
“Nicholas Korth is a composer with a unique vision. His creative exploration of harmony and sound is individual, fascinating and powerful. Using the natural overtone system – in instrumental and in vocal contexts – creates sound worlds of great individuality and originality. Nicholas is very sensitive and refined in all the musical choices he makes. Be it the texts he chooses to set, or the musicians he collaborates with in his projects. Given that Nicholas, who is a fabulous principal horn in the BBC Symphony Orchestra, has the energy, commitment and vision to compose such individual music, is something extraordinary. I have great admiration for Nicholas as a colleague and as a composer of integrity and great skill, and would hope that the project he is proposing is supported generously.”
Martyn Brabbins, music director, English National Opera
The costs involved in putting on an event like this are high. They include rehearsal and performance fees for the musicians, venue, instrument and recording hire, publicity, printing, transport and accommodation for the overtone singers (who will be travelling from continental Europe and America).
In the event of any profit being made, it will be used exclusively for the development of future projects of a similar kind and towards the advancement of this form of music.
Your support would help this vision become a reality.
To hear more of Nicholas Korth’s music go to the discography page above. You can view scores on the works list page.
Click here for more performance and venue information.
1. The Sea and the Skylark
ON ear and ear two noises too old to end Trench—right, the tide that ramps against the shore; With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar, Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.
Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend, His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeinèd score In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.
How these two shame this shallow and frail town! How ring right out our sordid turbid time, Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,
Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime: Our make and making break, are breaking, down To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.
2. Irish Sonnets of Desolation
NO worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief, More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring. Comforter, where, where is your comforting? Mary, mother of us, where is your relief? My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing — Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling- ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief.”‘
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep, Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.
from Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet
THOU art indeed just, Lord, if I contend With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just. Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must Disappointment all I endeavour end? Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend, How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend, Sir, life upon thy cause. See, banks and brakes Now, leavèd how thick! lacèd they are again With fretty chervil, look, and fresh wind shakes Them; birds build – but not I build; no, but strain, Time’s eunuch, and not breed one work that wakes. Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain.
3. That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the comfort of the Resurrection
CLOUD-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth, then chevy on an air- Built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs | they throng; they glitter in marches. Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, | wherever an elm arches, Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long | lashes lace, lance, and pair. Delightfully the bright wind boisterous | ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare Of yestertempest’s creases; | in pool and rut peel parches Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, | nature’s bonfire burns on. But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-selvèd spark Man, how fast his firedint, | his mark on mind, is gone! Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark Drowned. O pity and indig | nation! Manshape, that shone Sheer off, disseveral, a star, | death blots black out; nor mark Is any of him at all so stark But vastness blurs and time | beats level. Enough! the Resurrection, A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, | joyless days, dejection. Across my foundering deck shone A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash Fall to the residuary worm; | world’s wildfire, leave but ash: In a flash, at a trumpet crash, I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, Is immortal diamond.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Nicholas Korth is a composer with a passion for the magical world of natural harmony, the extraordinary sounds of overtone singing and lyrical and sesitive word setting. He is also one of Britain’s finest horn players. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife, violinist Deborah Schlenther and their two children Daniel and Rosa.
As a member of the London Conchord Ensemble he has had much of his music performed (notably in the USA and at the Wigmore Hall), recorded and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. He has worked closely with overtone singers Rollin Rachele and Paul Terrell, tenors James Gilchrist and Dan Norman and soprano Olivia Robinson.
Korth has an amazing ability in his compositions to weave the best of Western music idioms with the intricacies of overtone ratios creating a uniquely beautiful sound palate that haunts and exhilarates at the same time.
Rollin Rachele, overtone singer
Nicholas Korth, “subtlest of first horns”, has held the position of Co-principal Horn with the BBC Symphony Orchestra since 2000.
In this capacity he has performed in many ‘prom’ concerts at the Royal Albert Hall (including several first and last nights), toured throughout the world and been involved in countless radio and TV broadcasts.
He appears regularly as guest principal horn and soloist with many ensembles including the London Mozart Players, the Britten Sinfonia and the London Sinfonietta. He has performed with some of Britain’s leading classical musicians including violinist Tasmin Little and clarinetist Michael Collins.
He is also active on the London film session scene and has played on the soundtrack of many titles (including Harry Potter, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Hobbit and Skyfall).