Song Shards: From Darkness to the Light

St George's, Hanover Square
4:00 pm, Sunday, 17 September, 2017

Song shards

Pegasus presented the London premiere of Colin Riley’s Roads Shining Like River Up Hill After Rain, a setting for choir and cello of poetry by Edward Thomas, who died 100 years ago in the trenches of the first world war. The title of this work is taken from one of Thomas’s “ghost shards” – fragments of poetry – found on him after his death:

Where any turn may lead to Heaven/Or any corner may hide Hell/Roads shining like river up hill after rain

The composer worked with writer Robert Macfarlane to fashion the text of the piece from this and other fragments of Thomas’s poetry.

Our concert, directed by Matthew Altham, meditated on these themes of darkness and light, sadness and consolation, through works by John Tavener, Henryk Górecki, Arvo Pärt and others. For the Riley we were joined by cellist Gabriella Swallow, who also accompanied the choir in Serenity by Ola Gjeilo and an excerpt from Verdi’s Requiem. The concert concluded with Lux aeterna, an uplifting vision of eternal light from the requiem mass, set to the famous music of “Nimrod” from Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations.

Our performance took place in the majestic and light-filled setting of St George’s, Hanover Square. St George’s is a historic church containing many artistic treasures and a special musical connection – one of its most famous worshipers was George Frederick Handel.

Concert programme

Read an interview with Colin Riley about Roads Shining Like River Up Hill After Rain here.


Song for Athene – John Tavener

Requiem aeternam – Giuseppe Verdi

Wislo moja, Wislo szara – Henryk Górecki

To be Sung on the Water – Samuel Barber

Solfeggio – Arvo Pärt

Roads shining like river up hill after rain – Colin Riley

Northern Lights – Ola Gjeilo

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen –  Michael Praetorius, arr. Jan Sandström

Lux aeterna – Edward Elgar

Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) – Ola Gjeilo

Venue details

St George's Church, St George Street, London W1
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus, Bond Street, Piccadilly Circus