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Re-instating Martin Shaw as composer and champion of English music

FCM members may be interested to attend a song recital and symposium at the British Library on Monday 17 September 2018.

Autumn 2018 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Martin Shaw, a remarkably diverse and influential figure in English musical life in the first half of the twentieth century. It coincides with the launch of the Martin Shaw Archive in the British Library Catalogue, and the publication of A Greater Light, a book which contains a full catalogue of over 500 published works composed, arranged or edited by Shaw, and a series of related writings by and about him.

Martin Shaw is best remembered now for his church music, and especially a small group of distinctive hymn tunes. That represents but a small part of his pioneering and influential creative work in the fields of music for theatre, children, music education, community music and music for worship. He was primarily a composer of the sung word, and there is a substantial and important body of solo songs. He enjoyed a wide range of literary, musical and artistic associations and friends, especially rich in the first decades of the twentieth century, and including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Gordon Craig, T. S. Eliot and Percy Dearmer.

The afternoon begins with a recital of a selection of Shaw’s songs, performed by Philip Smith (baritone) and Iain Farringdon (piano) in the Knowledge Centre auditorium. This is followed by a symposium considering aspects of Shaw’s compositions and the context in which they were written. The sheer range of his activities will be reflected in a series of short presentations by scholars of twentieth-century British music and its context, including Professor Stephen Banfield, Dr Jonathan Clinch, Professor Jeremy Dibble, Professor John Harper, Mr Michael Meredith, Dr Paul Rodmell and Professor George Odam. Particular attention will be given to his music for the theatre and pageants, for lesser known aspects of his work for the church, and to the songs. This, it is hoped, will engage scholars, students and those with more general interests in an ongoing investigation and re-appraisal of Shaw’s compositions and related activities.

The afternoon will end with the formal launch of the Martin Shaw Archive by its current curator at the British Library, Dr Christopher Scobie, and a celebration of the publication of A Greater Light by the editors, Stephen Connock MBE, and Martin Shaw’s grand-daughter, Isobel Montgomery Campbell.

For more information about the concert, go to the listing on the British Library’s website here.

For further details about the symposium, including how to book, follow this link to the British Library’s website.