As our name suggests, Ormskirk Music Society is focused on music. However, we owe so much to the written and spoken word. When our music is made by voices, the lyrics are just as important as the music. In Randall Thompson’s Frostiana, we get to that joyous point where the rhythm of poetry and the colours painted by language are given an extra, magical dimension by being set to music.
Robert Frost (1874-1963) was one of the major voices of American poetry, even reciting one of his works at the inauguration of John F Kennedy. His poems are known for their realism, their simplicity and capturing the strong, uncomplaining spirit of rural life. Frost. Even his surname is so perfect. It’s cold, it’s crisp, it’s plain.
Summarising a long artistic career in a sentence or two is unfair to a poet whose works look so plain on the page but can be slippery and conceal hidden depths. There’s ambiguity alongside strong visuals, complex emotions amid factual descriptions. Relationships are sketched by fragments of conversation, sometimes only by depicting one speaker’s words.
We would urge you to get in there and spend some time with the poems themselves:
- “The Road Not Taken“
- “The Pasture“
- “Come In“
- “The Telephone“
- “A Girl’s Garden“
- “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening“
- “Choose Something Like a Star”
Frost taught for many years at Amherst College in Massachusetts and was closely associated with the town. When Amherst celebrated its bicentennial in 1959, the composer, Randall Thompson, was commissioned to write a musical commemoration and chose seven poems by Frost, who was actually a friend of his.
The music is soulful, uplifting and characteristically New England in sound. You can effortlessly imagine yourself in a quiet wood from the opening bars. ‘Come in’ starts with a trilling, birdlike flute solo. But it’s also playful, particularly in ‘The Telephone’, which imagines a phone call…made by flower.
You can hear Frostiana, alongside Edward Germans’ Nell Gwyn overture and Elgar’s Enigma Variations at Ormskirk Music Society’s spring concert at 7.30pm on Saturday 25 March 2023 at St John the Baptist Church, Burscough, L40 4AE.
Tickets are £12 for adults, £5 (student/U18) and £25 for a family of 2 adults and up to 4 children. They are on sale now by phone (07906 129393), from society members or online. There will also be tickets available on the door.
The featured image is subject to a Creative Commons License. Credit to Rebecca Siegel, via Flickr.com
Biographical and background information courtesy of Wikipedia