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A Shropshire Lass - The Life of Mary Webb in Concert
10 Oct 2022

'Shropshire Lass' the first full performance of a specially composed song-cycle by Martin Bussey setting texts by poet Mary Webb is to be held in Shrewsbury this October 15, featuring Shropshire soprano Holly Teague (pictured with guitarist Michael Matthews) and tenor William Smith. Pictures by Sally Sparrow Photography

‘Shropshire Lass - The Life of Mary Webb’ will be held in Shrewsbury School’s Maidment Auditorium on October 15, promoted by The Shropshire Music Trust and supported by the Mary Webb Society. 

The narrated evening of poetry and song will be performed by professional singers - Shropshire based soprano Holly Teague and Tenor William Smith. 

Composer Martin Bussey has written the semi-staged song cycle ‘Shropshire Lass’ for soprano and guitar, centred around themes of love and loss. 

The poetry of Mary Webb is set to  music and creates an arc that leads from celebration of young love to the remembrance of lost love, when the central character’s partner fails to return from Word War 1. 

The event will be narrated by Shropshire writer Jean Atkin, whose own poems will also feature in settings by composer Patrick Larley, 3 Winter Songs. These will be sung by tenor William Smith, together with a setting by Paul Henley of Andrew Rudd’s poem Sky. 

Also on the programme is an instrumental work, Patrick Larley’s Sonata for Violin and Piano, performed by the composer with violinist Marianne Haynes. 

The concert has been organised by The Marches Songbook CIC - a newly registered cross border organisation that links poets and composers from the communities either side of the English/Welsh border to create new art songs, relevant to the unique culture of this area. 

Soprano Holly Teague said: “Michael and I are very excited to present this new work for voice and guitar. It’s a cycle written especially for us that breathes musical life into the wonderful words of Mary Webb, whose poetry is as reflective of the beauty of the county of Shropshire now as it was a century ago.”

Tenor William Smith added: “These new songs build upon the rich heritage of poetry and song from this region. The poetry of Housman, Mary Webb, Wilfred Owen and the music of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, Warlock and Gurney, all with strong connections to this borderland region, create a strong base and tradition from which to evolve the next generation of English and Welsh song composers and poets.”

The singers will be accompanied by Marianne Haynes (violin), Michael Matthews (guitar) and Simon Bate (piano). 

‘A Shropshire Lass - The Life of Mary Webb’ will be held in Shrewsbury School’s Maidment Auditorium on October 15 at 7.30pm,promoted by The Shropshire Music Trust and supported by the Mary Webb Society. Tickets £16 (25s and under free*)

There will be two further performances of A Shropshire Lass in St Oswald’s Church, Malpas on October 22 and in St Mary’s Church, Nantwich on November 19.

*free tickets for 25 years old and under are generously supported by the Cavatina trust. These are limited to 50 per concert so they are available online on a first come, first served basis.

For further information and tickets visit www.themarchessongbook.co.uk