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Geoffrey Burgon

Publisher: Chester Music

Joan of Arc (1970)
Text Writer
Susan Hill
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Solo Voices and 1-6 players
Year Composed
1970
Duration
30 Minutes
Language
English
Soloist
Baritone, Narrator/Speaker, 3 Sopranos, Tenor
Solo Instrument(s)
narrator
Orchestration
Programme Note
Geoffrey Burgon Joan of Arc (1970)
BRIEF SYNOPSIS

Joan of Arc was found guilty of heresy and witchcraft in1431. Today her claim to hear voices sent by God would almost certainly be dismissed as mental disturbance, but in the fifteenth century, the power of her vision was enough toconvince even the Dauphin that here, in the form of a teenage peasant girl, was the saviour of France. The music of Joan’s voices permeates the entire work and is derived from two pieces of plainchant, one for the Epiphany (the day of her birth) and the other for the Magnificat. The composer has also incorporated a well-known secular tune of her time, L’Homme armé. The work achieves a powerful evocation of Joan’s world of fervent mysticism .

DETAILS

Susan Slade Sopranos Susanne Noble Flute
Diedre Cape Sopranos Roger Smith Cello
Rogers Covey-Crump Tenor David Watkins Harp
Bryn Evans Baritone Joan Jeffries Percussion


Joan:
When I was thirteen years old, I had a voice from God to help me govern my conduct. And the first time I was very fearful. And came this voice, about the hour of noon, in the summer-time, in my father’s garden; I had not fasted on the eye preceding that day. I heard the voice on the right hand side, towards the church; and rarely do I hear it without a brightness. The brightness comes from the same side as the voice is heard. It is usually a great light. When I came to France, often I heard this voice…The voice was sent to me by God, and after I had thrice heard this voice, I knew that it was the voice of an angel. This voice has always guarded me well and I have always understood it clearly.

These words were spoken by Joan at her trial, which ended on 30th May, 1431 with her being found guilty of heresy and witchcraft. Today Joan would almost certainly be dimissed as mentally deranged but in the 15th century, the power of her vision was enough to convince even the Dauphin that here, in the form of a teenage peasant girl, was the saviour of France.

The music of Joan’s voices permeates the whole work, and this is derived from two pieces of plainchant, one for Epiphany (the day of her birth) and the other for the Magnificat. I have also incorporated a well-known secular tune of her time, L’Homme Armie’, and the whole work is an attempt to evoke the world of fervent mysticism that she must have inhabited.

Performances
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