Song in the City's first world premiere CD!

by song-in-the-city in London

We did it
On 8th December 2015 we successfully raised £857 with 25 supporters in 61 days

'VOICES OF LONDON: Songs of the Big Smoke is a world premiere recording of a new song cycle for four voices and piano.

by song-in-the-city in London

Why are we raising funds?

Song in the City's first CD: 'VOICES OF LONDON': Songs of the Big SmokeJennifer Witton (Soprano), Beth Desbruslais (Mezzo Soprano), Nick Allen (Tenor), Piran Legg (Bass-Baritone), Gavin Roberts (Piano)

Song in the City is branching out! We need your support to raise the vital sum of £2,900 to enable us to produce and complete our very first CD.

This is a fantastic opportunity to capture a very special song cycle of brand new London themed songs for four voices and piano commissioned by Song in the City, and to make these widely available. This project is directed by our very own Gavin Roberts, Artistic Director of Song in the City.

Song in the City believes in commissioning new music from young, emerging composers, and enabling them the opportunity to work with real-live performers directly. This project has not only facilitated this process, but has also offered an important professional development opportunity for the next generation of talented singers, to record new repertoire in the professional setting of Milton Court, with its world class facilities. We plan to continue to support the careers of the next generation of artists with other new projects in future.

Crowdfunding is a great way for us to overcome the prohibitive costs of producing the recording. Your generous support will contribute to the costs of producing and editing the recording, and also associated printing and licensing costs. Without your help to meet our final target, sadly we cannot guarantee the successful completion of the CD.


About the Song Cycle

In 2012, Song in the City commissioned a new song cycle 'Voices of London' from four talented, up and coming composers; Raymond Yiu, James Lark, Graham Ross and Joseph Atkins who set poetry inspired by London to music. This unique cycle, for four different voice types and piano, was premiered in Christchurch, Spitalfields in October 2012. In July 2015 Song in the City will record a world premiere CD of the cycle with four emerging British singers Jennifer Witton, Beth Desbruslais, Nick Allen and Piran Legg  and pianist and Artistic Director of Song in the City, Gavin Roberts. Songs include Covent Garden Inside Out, If London Could Speak... and Shadwell Stairs.     Find out more about the songs below.


We are offering the following rewards!:   1. We will include names of all those pledging £5 or more on the crowdfunding site as a thank you 2. We will offer any pledges over £15 a free CD on completion of the project in December 2015 3. We will offer bidders over £50 a CD and a ticket to the CD launch event on 8 December 2015   We hope that you'll support us by pledging on and sharing this project!    Keep track of our campaign and share your thoughts with us on Twitter: @songinthecity and Facebook: /songinthecity  We would like to thank the Guildhall School of Music & Drama for enabling us to use their recording space in Milton Court for this special project.

Song in the City is a Registered Charity (no 1147050) 

Artistic Director: Gavin Roberts, Co-Director: Rebecca Cohen; Patrons: Sarah Walker CBE, Iain Burnside


A bit more about the Songs:


RAYMOND YIU (b. 1973), Richard of Devizes (fl. late 12th century)

 ‘To open the song cycle with an allusion to the ringing of London church bells, Praeludium sets an unforgiving description of 12th century London by Richard of Devizes depicting its chaos and shortcomings. Surprisingly, his complaints and sentiment are still applicable today.’


JAMES LARK (b. 1979), William Blake (1757–1827‘William Blake's London is a hugely evocative depiction of the city at its seediest; a wandering motif in the piano leads the singer 'thro' each charted'd street' at the outside, a sparse texture reflecting the emptiness in the text. There are more dissonant outbursts as Blake reflects on 'the mind forg'd manacles' in the voices he hears but the song is constantly dragged back towards the uneasy lullaby of this beguiling midnight city which offers little comfort to its inhabitants, from the new born infant upwards.’

Translating the English, 1989

GRAHAM ROSS (b. 1985), Carol Ann Duffy (b. 1955)

Translating the English, 1989. Carol Ann Duffy's text is set in a tongue-in-cheek cabaret style, with ever-increasing tempo and rising keys. Each gear-change is structured around the author's continued cries to welcome the listener 'to my country', with the many ironies and absurdities of the English language fighting to be heard over one another.’

The Telephone

RAYMOND YIU (b. 1973), Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953)

The Telephone, with text by Hilaire Belloc, crystallizes the sense of loneliness associated with big cities; and in this case, London specifically.’

Covent Garden, Inside Outside

JOSEPH ATKINS (b. 1981), Amy Clampitt (1920–94)

‘Amy Clampitt’s poem Covent Garden, Inside Outside brims with the excitement of visiting an iconic London landmark for the first time. So often, with experiences of a new city, the little details leave the greatest impression, in the same way the ghost of a melody (in this case, an Act 1 aria from Don Pasquale sung by Norina) can remain long imprinted upon the memory.’

 Through Galleried Earth

GRAHAM ROSS (b. 1985), Seamus Heaney (b. 1939) from District and Circle

Through galleried earth takes its title from one of the closing lines of Seamus Heaney's District and Circle, of which the final section is set here. Despite its depiction of a London Underground train journeying through a tunnel, the predominant mood of my setting is one of wistful reflection, where the author's glazed face transports his thoughts away from the jolting train to blackened memories of his father and the past.’

This Moment of June

RAYMOND YIU (b. 1973), Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) from Mrs Dalloway

‘The text of This Moment of June, taken from Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dolloway, is without doubt one of the most joyous passages found in English literature about London. It praises the beauty and vibrancy of this great city.’

Shadwell Stair

JOSEPH ATKINS (b. 1981), Wilfred Owen (1893–1918)

'’Ugliness! I never saw so much beauty ...,' famously exclaimed Wilfred Owen, when describing London’s East End and Docklands. His haunting poem Shadwell Stair offers a unique perspective upon, and an unusual homage to a shabby, yet mysteriously alluring maritime landscape.’

If London Could Speak …

JAMES LARK (b. 1979), Simon Munnery (b. 1967)

‘Typically for one of the country's more esoteric comedians, Simon Munnery has asked what London would say if it could speak, and found it to be arrogant and complex, a cockney geezer and a bit of a bully. The music attempts to be as multi-faced as the poem: brash but beautiful, schizophrenic but lucid. Designed for performance, the words are a gift to a composer, with their rapid changes of rhythm and pace, quick fire delivery of information and mixture of the banal and profound. Also, the jokes are good!’



This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£5 or more

£5 Reward

A big thank you from the Song in the City team for your vital support in getting us a step closer to making this project happen!

£15 or more

£15 Reward

Thank you for believing in Song in the City's project! We will offer any pledges of £15 a free CD

£50 or more

£50 Reward

Thank you for believing in Song in the City's project! We will offer all bidders over £50 a CD and free ticket to the CD launch event on 8 December 2015

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