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The University of Southampton

Ben Johnson and David Owen Norris - Songs by Poulenc, Gurney, Butterworth & Britten Event

Professional Lunchtime Concert
13:00 - 13:50
5 November 2018
Turner Sims Salisbury Road Southampton SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this event, please email Ben Oliver at .

Event details

Acclaimed tenor Ben Johnson joins University of Southampton's Head of Classical Performance David Owen Norris to perform a selection of songs. Programme to include a selection of settings of AE Housman, Francis Poulenc Song-cycle 'Tel jour, tel nuit' (poems by Paul Eluard) and Benjamin Britten Song-cycle 'Winter Words' (poems by Thomas Hardy).

Ben Johnson, tenor
David Owen Norris, piano

Songs by Poulenc, Gurney, Butterworth & Britten

Tel jour telle nuit (1937) - Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) 

Titles, with a hint of Paul Eluard’s elusive ‘meaning’. 

1. Bonne journée
A good day. Once again I have seen those I shall never forget. A good day, that started sadly but suddenly took my heart by surprise.

2. Une ruine coquille vide.
An empty seashell. The children play more quietly than flies. Midnight strikes the heart like an arrow.

3. Le front comme un drapeau perdu
My forehead like a lost flag. I don’t want to loose your hands. Everything else is more useless than life itself.

4. Une roulotte couverte en tuiles
A caravan covered in tiles, the horse dead, a child in charge. This melodrama snatches away our reason.

5. A toutes brides
At full tilt, the hurrican seeks you out, like Piaf on a violin. Come, drink a kiss.

6. Une herbe pauvre
A poor wildflower appeared in the snow.

7. Je n’ai envie que de t’aimer
I only want to love you. My days and nights are ruled by your eyelids.

8. Figure de force brûlante et farouche
Burning, fierce-faced, black-haired, the gold trickles south to the corrupted night.

9. Nous avons fait la nuit
We have made our night. I hold your hand, I watch over you with all my strength. You are a stranger, just like the one I love, but always new.

A selection of Housman settings by Ivor Gurney (1890-1937) and George Butterworth (1885-1916)

Winter Words Op. 52 (1954) - Benjamin Britten  (1913-1976)                            

Lyrics and Ballads of Thomas Hardy

1.      At day-close in November

2.      Midnight on the Great Western (or The Journeying Boy)

3.      Wagtail and Baby (A Satire)

4.      The little old Table

5.      The Choirmaster’s Burial (or The Tenor man’s story)

6.      Proud Songsters (Thrushes, Finches and Nightingales)

7.      At the Railway Station, Upway (or The Convict and Boy with the Violin)

8.      Before Life and After

Ben Johnson
Acclaimed tenor Ben Johnson represented England in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2013 and won the Audience Prize. A former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and 2008 winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award, Johnson was formerly an English National Opera Harewood Artist and a Wigmore Hall Emerging Talent.

Recent operatic highlights include Eisenstein Die Fledermaus and Don Ottavio Don Giovanni, both for Opera Holland Park, as well as a celebrated run as Alfredo La Traviata, Tamino Die Zauberflöte, and Nemorino L’elisir d’amore, all for English National Opera. Johnson has performed Don Ottavio Don Giovanni for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, English National Opera and Opéra National de Bordeaux Lysander in Britten’s A Midsummer Night's Dream for Bergen National Opera, Oronte Alcina in a concert tour with The English Concert, Bénédict Béatrice et Bénédict for Chelsea Opera Group, Carlo Giovanna d'Arco for Buxton Festival Opera, Novice Billy Budd at Glyndebourne, and Martin The Tender Land by Copland at Opéra de Lyon.

Highlights of the upcoming season are Nebuchadnezzar The Burning Fiery Furnace for Scottish Opera and a return to one of Johnson’s trademark roles when he sings Tamino Die Zauberflöte in an extensive tour with Welsh National Opera. He will also be performing Don Basilio Le Nozze di Figaro with Grange Festival in their 2019 season, Britten Serenade with London Chamber Orchestra and will participate in a tour with Music Network Ireland, performing concerts with guitarist Sean Shibe.

David Owen Norris
David Owen Norris is a pianist, composer and broadcaster. He has performed all over the world since his appointment as the first Gilmore Artist in 1991. His compositions include a Symphony, a Piano Concerto, the oratorios Prayerbook and Turning Points, and the multi-media tribute to the passing seasons, HengeMusic. His Chord of the Week programmes on BBC2 television, now in their sixth season, are a popular feature of the Proms. His many radio presentations have included the Playlist series on Radio 4, and In Tune and The Works on Radio 3, where this autumn sees his 26th appearance on Building a Library. He has just recorded Mozart Concertos on fortepiano for Hyperion, and will shortly record a third disc of Sullivan songs for Chandos.

Free admission. 


Ben Johnson - Tenor
Ben Johnson - Tenor
David Owen Norris
David Owen Norris
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