Professor and Music Department chairman Dr. John Fisher traveled with South African soprano Suré Eloff to England to debut Gregory Rose’s song cycle “Avebury Stone Circles” March 13 and 15.
Over spring break there were two performances: one at the Church of St. Mary-le-bow, Cheapside, in central London, on March 13 and another at the site which inspired the music, St. James Church, Avebury, Wiltshire, on March 15.
Each concert presented two large song cycles for piano and soprano: Samuel Barber’s “Hermit Songs,” and the premiere of London-based composer Gregory Rose’s “Avebury Stone Circles.” The seven-part song cycle by Rose commissioned Eloff, who is the wife of Wesleyan adjunct tuba instructor Vurl Bland. The cycle’s world premiere was performed at Texas Wesleyan on October 24, 2013.
“I am thrilled to represent Texas Wesleyan and spread the Wesleyan name,” Dr. Fisher said. He also pointed out that this could be the beginning of a stronger relationship between Wesleyan and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance – Professor Rose’s teaching base in the United Kingdom.
The U.K. premiere had the same people as the world premiere: Fisher playing the piano and Eloff singing the soprano part.
Gregory Rose is an internationally recognized composer and conductor specializing in music of the 20th and 21st Centuries. His song cycle was originally inspired by the Neolithic Henge monuments that surround Avebury village in Wiltshire, Southwest England.
The monuments was thought to be completed around 2600 BC. Like the more famous Stonehenge, Avebury has one of Europe’s largest outer circles. A monument like this has a henge, which is a bank and a ditch, an outer circle, and two smaller stone circles in the center of the monument. Among several older sites nearby is Silbury Hill, the largest prehistoric manmade mound in Europe.
The stone circles are almost certainly a site which saw prehistoric rituals and gatherings. In his composition, Rose imagined gatherings with pre-Christian priests meeting for rituals or community assemblies.