Ensemble Magazine, February 2015 issue: Composition Issue featuring Song Cycle: vive la vélorution!, the new choral work by Alexander L’Estrange (composer of Zimbe! and Ahoy!) with lyrics by Joanna Forbes L’Estrange.
“Joanna and Alexander were amazingly professional and very efficient yet also managed to be enormous fun, hugely energetic and truly inspiring. It was so wonderful to sing Song Cycle again – it is an absolutely brilliant piece – and I feel so proud and privileged to have been involved in the process of its evolution.”
Claire Duckworth, Chapter House Choir, York.
“Joanna & Alexander = talent, energy, fun, humour, organisation, teamwork, drive, enthusiasm, determination, passion, focus, attention to detail, empathy….. The list is endless!”
Andrew Cox, singer on the Song Cycle CD, Hants.
York was the hub of the 2014 Tour de France and to celebrate the Grand Départ of this international sporting spectacular, the city’s Chapter House Choir commissioned acclaimed British composer Alexander L’Estrange to compose a brand new choral work with a cycling theme. He came up with SONG CYCLE: vive la vélorution! ten hugely entertaining songs telling the story of the bicycle, from its inauspicious beginnings to the glorious Tour de France. L’Estrange has a track record for grand-scale choral works that bring together hundreds of singers of all ages and abilities. His previous works include the hugely popular Zimbe! which fuses African music and jazz and has had hundreds of performances across the globe, something of a record for a new choral piece. Ahoy!, is a similarly energetic blend of seas shanties and Tudor music in celebration of Henry VIII’s flagship the Mary Rose.
Inspired by Yorkshire’s beautiful natural environment and wide open spaces, Song Cycle takes audiences on an exhilarating musical ride across hill and dale. The world première was performed to a packed-to-capacity York Minster by a massed choir of around 400 voices from school and amateur choirs across the region, including the York Youth Choir and York Youth Chamber Choir. The massed choir was accompanied by Alexander and his jazz group The Call Me Al Quintet.
“As a keen cyclist and lover of the outdoors, I was delighted to be commissioned for this piece,” says Alexander L’Estrange. “It gave me the perfect excuse to spend a few days in Yorkshire – one of my favourite places – and to cycle some of the route of the Tour de France to gain inspiration. That experience reinforced my desire to create an uplifting, light-hearted and entertaining piece reflecting the enormous appeal of this most popular and energy-efficient mode of transport and celebrating the beauty of our natural surroundings.”
“The choir was absolutely THRILLED with Song Cycle. I can’t remember ever having so much fun in a choir rehearsal!”
Claire Duckworth, member of the choir
“Massive enthusiasm from the choir last night – it leapt off the page!”
Stephen Williams, conductor of the World Premiere
Song Cycle encompasses an unusual combination of musical styles – pastiche Victorian music hall and Gilbert & Sullivan, folk, minimalism, barbershop, musical theatre and jazz. It includes a new take on the classic Daisy, Daisy which the audience will be encouraged to sing along with. The tune of Scarborough Fair which is part of Yorkshire’s musical heritage also features, with new lyrics by Joanna Forbes L’Estrange, Alexander’s wife who is also an accomplished musician and singer. The couple collaborate regularly and perform together as L’Estranges in the night.
Song Cycle was a joint venture with York Minster, supported by Arts Council England, The Foyle Foundation and several local charitable trusts and foundations.
Press contact: Fiona Alsop firstname.lastname@example.org