Project Anne Brontë 200 is an initiative run by a collective of musicians and poets, and headed by Pamela Nash*. We are asking for your help to give the neglected Brontë sister centre stage and to further her legacy through the creation of new music for choirs as well as commemorative poetry in the run-up to 2020, the bicentenary of her birth.
"If Anne Brontë had lived ten years longer, she would have taken a place beside Jane Austen, perhaps even a higher place".... (novelist and poet George Moore, 1924).
History has done a great disservice to Anne Brontë, and though she may now be stepping out from behind the veil, her contribution to literature still remains undervalued and unjustly overshadowed by her more celebrated siblings. Until now, she has also been largely overlooked by composers, despite the striking musical affinities in her writing. So we are appealing for you to join us in seizing the chance to address this under-representation of Anne and to shed new light on her through the powerful and magical medium of the choir, as we commission choral settings of her words - as well as specially-written poetry inspired by her.
The flagship showcase event - the only one of its kind to current knowledge - is to be held at Manchester's Cross Street Chapel on March 28th 2020, headlined by rising star composer Lucy Pankhurst, BBC commissionee of The Pankhurst Anthem (which received over 80 performances during the centenary year in the UK alone). "A Fine and Subtle Spirit", her setting of Anne Brontë's "The Bluebell" will be scored for children's voices alongside professional singers, along with other world premieres including Brontë settings by Paul Vowles, and UK premieres by American composers Judith Herrington, Cristi Cary Miller and Dale Trumbore, as well as Emily Brontë songs by John Joubert and the ever-popular and much-loved sacred music of John Rutter and David Fanshawe - and even settings of Anne's own hymns.
The Junior Girls' voices of the Queens' School, Chester, led by Jane Booth and accompanied by Margaret Corlett, will perform along with the Manchester Musicians' Choir and their director, Paul Vowles. Poets Liliana Pasterska, Philip Watts and Edwin Stockdale read their own works and leading Brontë scholar Nick Holland is Guest of Honour. Renowned soprano Lesley-Jane Rogers also joins the programme for the Joubert songs, accompanied by pianist Janet Simpson.
The project operates on a volunteer basis and no money will go to the organisers. However, we need help towards fees and necessary costs in running the flagship event in Manchester as well as to assist our ongoing aim to promote these works for future performances, on both a national and international level. You will be helping to provide a springboard to launch them into the musical community: competitions, concerts, literary festivals and educational outreach in communities and schools are all forums which can engender the circulation of these works as part of the core repertoire, and of course, secure the wider role of music within the Brontë legacy.
Pamela Nash directed the 2016 Charlotte Brontë Bicentenary at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Manchester, and has a long track record in producing opportunities for composers and performers. Her previous projects include running the first ever international composers' competition for new harpsichord works (for the British Harpsichord Society) and the contemporary music festivals, Harpsichordfests, at the University of Manchester.