Repertoire Search

John Harle

Publisher: Chester Music

City Solstice: a song for London Bridge (2009)
Work Notes
commissioned by The City of London Corporation for The City of London Festival 2009, and is dedicated, with thanks, to Ian Ritchie
Text Writer
Tom Pickard
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus and Orchestra/Ensemble
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
treble, alto, soprano saxophone
Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales

Programme Note
John Harle City Solstice: a song for London Bridge (2009)
City Solstice celebrates the 800th anniversary of the construction of various bridges on
the site of the current London Bridge. The difficulty of erecting sturdy constructions on
this bend in the Thames, where the currents are particularly strong, has led to a rich seam
of stories about the bridges, passed on through history, myth and folklore.

What are thought to be the original words of 'London Bridge is falling down' carry much
of the references to materials used in building the original bridges - wood and stone,
gravel and stone, and then later, iron and steel. The lines my fair lady, dance over my lady
lea (or lee ) and with a gay lady , are thought to refer to Matilda of Scotland (c.1080-
1118), consort of Henry I, and who was responsible for building the series of bridges that
carried the London to Colchester road across the River Lea.

King (Saint) Olaf II of Norway figures prominently in the destruction of the bridge after
its occupation by the Danes around 1013. Coming to the assistance of Aethelred, Olaf
is thought to have pulled the bridge down into the Thames, along with its occupying
Danes, rather than fight on the bridge itself. There is a line in the Norse saga The
Heimskringla that refers to London Bridge being broken down.

Preview the score:

... lushly harmonised and ecstatically passionate...
Richard Morrison, The Times,24/06/2009
There is much cleverness in Harle's setting, especially in the interweaving of traditional London folksongs (especially "London Bridge is falling down") and the entwining of Sebastian Johns's commendable steady treble voice...
Guy Dammann, The Guardian,24/06/2009
Harle's City Solstice (text by Tom Pickard), an affectionate tribute to London Bridge, just around the corner from the concert venue, springs some clever suprises: the high note of a treble (the assured Sebastian Johns) morphs into the keening lament of the alto saxophone (Harle himself), while the final bars play tricks with on- and off-stage voices.
Barry Millington, The Evening Standard,23/06/2009
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Enter your email address to keep up to date with the latest news and special offers from Music Sales Classical.
Your data is secure and you can unsubscribe at any time. Read our Privacy Policy

Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2019 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.