‘The Good Life’—an expression that suggests indulgence—might equally well be applied to a concern with humanity and religious devotion.
This programme moves from contemplating hunger and famine (a very contemporary problem), to spiritual – eucharistic – nourishment and, yes, finally to a celebration in song of the pleasures of food and wine.
From Byrd and Palestrina to Messaien and student drinking songs, the programme covers the gamut of earthly and heavenly delights. Highlights include Fragments from his dish, by Bob Chilcott, and Jenny McLeod’s Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò.
Bob Chilcott (1955-), a former member of the King’s Singers, is one of the most prominent British choral composers. His Fragments from his dish (1997) are settings of some wonderful English texts all devoted to food and wine. Together they reflect the range envisaged by our Good Life programme as a whole, from a Grace by 17th century poet Robert Herrick, to an Edward Lear poem in praise of gluttony.
Jenny McLeod’s Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò is a setting of another delightful Edward Lear poem. It was commissioned in 1986 by Chamber Music New Zealand for a tour by the Cambridge University Chamber Choir.