Song Lab Master Class | Graham Johnson + Benjamin Britten

Acclaimed pianist Graham Johnson OBE holds a master class, focusing on selected songs by Benjamin Britten, as part of the NEC Song Lab, a brand new and unique curriculum for singers and pianists. Participants will include graduate students in Vocal Performance and Collaborative Piano.

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  1. Selections from "Winter Words"

    At day-close in November


    The ten hours' light is abating,
    And a late bird wings across,
    Where the pines, like waltzers waiting,
    Give their black heads a toss.

    Beech leaves, that yellow the noon-time,
    Float past like specks in the eye;
    I set every tree in my June time,
    And now they obscure the sky.

    And the children who ramble through here
    Conceive that there never has been
    A time when no tall trees grew here,
    That none will in time be seen.

    Thomas Hardy

    Midnight on the Great Western


    In the third-class seat sat the journeying boy,
    And the roof-lamp's oily flame
    Played down on his listless form and face,
    Bewrapt past knowing to what he was going,
    Or whence he came.

    In the band of his hat the journeying boy
    Had a ticket stuck; and a string
    Around his neck bore the key of his box,
    That twinkled gleams of the lamp's sad beams
    Like a living thing.

    What past can be yours, O journeying boy
    Towards a world unknown,
    Who calmly, as if incurious quite
    On all at stake, can undertake
    This plunge alone?

    Knows your soul a sphere, O journeying boy,
    Our rude realms far above,
    Whence with spacious vision you mark and mete
    This region of sin that you find you in,
    But are not of?

    Thomas Hardy

    • Sam Rosner, tenor
    • Marie-Elise Boyer, piano
  2. Batter my heart, three person'd god from "The Holy Sonnets of John Donne"


    Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
    As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
    That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me and bend
    Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new
    I, like an usurpt town, to another due
    Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end
    Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend
    But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue
    Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain
    But am betroth'd unto your enemy:
    Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again
    Take me to you, imprison me, for I
    Except you enthrall me, never shall be free
    Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

    John Donne

    • Anthony León, tenor
    • Kyunga Lee, piano
  3. Fish in the Unruffled Lakes


    Fish in the unruffled lakes
    Their swarming colours wear,
    Swans in the winter air
    A white perfection have,
    And the great lion walks
    Through his innocent grove;
    Lion, fish and swan
    Act, and are gone
    Upon Time’s toppling wave.
    We, till shadowed days are done,
    We must weep and sing
    Duty’s conscious wrong,
    The Devil in the clock,
    The goodness carefully worn
    For atonement or for luck;
    We must lose our loves,
    On each beast and bird that moves
    Turn an envious look.
    Sighs for folly done and said
    Twist our narrow days,
    But I must bless, I must praise
    That you, my swan, who have
    All gifts that to the swan
    Impulsive Nature gave,
    The majesty and pride,
    Last night should add
    Your voluntary love.

    W. H. Auden
    • Angela Yam, soprano
    • Ga-Young Park, piano