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Nico Muhly

Publisher: Chester Music

Friday Afternoons (for children’s choir and orchestra) (2019)
Commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker.
Text Writer
Trad, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Charles Kingsley, Mark Twain
St. Rose Music Publishing
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Children's chorus
Alternate Orchestration
Upper voices; piano
Programme Note
Nico Muhly Friday Afternoons (for children’s choir and orchestra) (2019)
Friday Afternoons was originally a set of songs for young voices and piano, here orchestrated. It was commissioned by Aldeburgh Music as a companion piece to Benjamin Britten’s cycle by the same name (1933-1935). In my response, I tried to pay homage to Britten’s virtuosity in setting text for children’s voices: the melodies are simple, but the harmonies underneath them (and, indeed, the subtle harmonic dissonances the melodies themselves imply) can be strange and shift unexpectedly. A few of the songs use actual folk melodies, and others are my imitations. The fast song, The Rain, is a direct homage to Britten’s This Little Babe, from A Ceremony of Carols, and was designed to be as exciting to sing as it was for me to sing Britten’s music as a young boy. All of the songs, whether exuberant or meditative, have a barely visible underpinning of the inevitability of ageing, a bittersweet emotion which most children begin to experience in their early teens. The songs conclude with a setting of Mark Twain’s Warm Summer Sun, which is both peaceful and, in a way, a morbid lullaby. The cycle lasts just under 18 minutes.
—Nico Muhly

World Premiere | May 12, 2019
The Berliner Philharmonie, Germany

Vocal Heroes youth choir and amateur singers
Members of the Berliner Philharmoniker
Simon Halsey, conductor

Watch the concert here free of charge

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