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Ronald Corp
1951 -
Great Britain, England
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R. Corp
Ronald Corp (1951), an English conductor and composer (from Somerset).
Requiem
Period:21st century
Composed in:2004
Musical form:free
Text/libretto:R.L. Stevenson
Duration:1'55''
Label(s):Dutton Digital CDLX 7171
Ronald Corp has already established a very strong reputation as a conductor of both choral and orchestral music. Now along comes a CD (Dutton Digital), which is as welcome as it is fine, that shows us what an excellent composer he is.
I was first alerted to this CD when a couple of tracks were played on BBC Radio Three. One was a gorgeous, quiet homophonic setting of ‘God be in my Head’. This is one of the set of pieces entitled Forever Child and it so impressed me that I ordered the disc without delay. I was not disappointed when it arrived and since then I’ve been returning to the disc repeatedly for sheer pleasure.
The aforementioned setting of ‘God be in my head’ is the sixth of the seven part songs that comprise Forever Child. The collection was composed by Corp to celebrate a little boy, Ben, who died tragically young not long after Corp had met him. These settings constitute a delightful and well-contrasted celebration of the innocence of childhood. The second of the set, ‘New Year’s Chimes’ appropriately evokes pealing bells in the choral writing. ‘Where go the boats’, to words by Robert Louis Stevenson, is wonderfully easeful and flowing. The seventh and last song, a setting of ‘On My First Sonne’ by Ben Jonson is a most touching homophonic envoi, which impressed me as much as any of the set. Incidentally, the very last track on the disc, Requiem, another Stevenson setting, is the piece with which Corp originally planned to end this little cycle but Ben’s parents asked him to set the Jonson poem instead. Requiem uses the same music but Corp expanded it for ‘On My First Sonne’ and I think this Jonson setting makes a better conclusion. Still it’s good to have Requiem as well and it was sensible to separate it on the disc from the cycle for which it was originally intended.
The text of "Requiem" by Stevenson:

Requiem

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

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R.L. Stevenson
(text)