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How the song cycle came about

David Maxwell Fyfe's writings are threaded with mentions of poems and quotes of lines that inspired him, so when Tom Blackmore first came to set up Kilmuir Papers he was looking for a way to hear not only Fyfe's words, but those inside his head, the words that inspired him. Setting these inspirational words to music to enable visitors to have time to reflect on the sometimes difficult concepts Fyfe was expressing and allow them to sink in was the starting point for Under an English Heaven, a cycle of 5 songs, largely settings of Rupert Brooke's War Sonnets interspersed with narration, that later expanded to become Dreams of Peace & Freedom.

Listen to the Phoenix Singers under the direction of David Chapman perform
the Under an English Heaven suite, recorded in Casterton Church 2010. 

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A series of blog posts by Sue Casson exploring the way the song cycle
developed are available at Wordpress. Click the buttons below!

David Chapman 1960 - 2017

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Our friend David Chapman played a major part in the development of what became Dreams of Peace & Freedom, and his Phoenix Choir, was the first to record songs from the cycle. We first met when he was organ exhibitioner at Keble College Oxford, where he musically directed Tom Blackmore’s O What a Lovely War. He went on to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, working as an opera coach and repetiteur before leaving to become conductor and pianist of Northern Ballet. With them he conducted in theatres throughout the UK, including Glyndebourne and Sadler’s Wells. Our first MD on The Happy Prince, for over 20 years he was Director of Music at Casterton School where his enthusiasm for directing musical shows, large scale choral works both sacred and secular alongside nurturing young talent was given full rein. David was a huge supporter of this project and we wish he were still with us.