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400 Years of Shakespeare

June 2-4, 2017

A survey of a cappella settings of Shakespeare’s famous words by composers from the Baroque to the present.

Several of the works are set to music using the same text—in the case of Blow, Blow, thou winter wind from As You Like It (Act II, Scene vii) by composers 300 years apart—Thomas Arne (1710-1778) and Matthew Harris (b 1956). The shorter Arne composition is light and melodic, even though the text concerns ingratitude and the failure of friendship. Shakespeare’s sarcastic commentary (missing from the Arne setting) is included in the Harris setting: “Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly. Then heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly!” Fascinating to compare the two—the affect of the Harris setting is anything but light and melodic.

Of course, we include the most famous Shakespeare settings, three lovely songs by Ralph Vaughn Williams, two from The Tempest (Full Fathom Five and The Cloud-Capp’d Towers), and one from Midsummer Night’s Dream (Over Hill, Over Dale). Later in the 20th century, enjoy the lovely Shall I compare thee to a sumer’s day by Nils Lindberg.

The 21st century includes a brand new work from San Jose State professor Aaron Lington and the West Coast premiere of When time is broke, a set of three works by Cecilia McDowall combining texts from several different plays and poems into a commentary on love and relationship. For a change of pace, we perform the humorous Cuckoo, Cuckoo by Dominic DiOrio. We finish with Shakespeare Suite by Nancy Wertsch, a trilogy of songs chosen to reflect youth, love and springtime in Shakespeare’s England. You can find the complete program below.

Read the program notes by artistic director Sanford Dole, and join us for a preview lecture by Sanford 30 minutes before the start of each concert.

Fri, June 2, 8:00pm
Campbell United Methodist Church
1675 Winchester Blvd.
Palo Alto
Sat, June 3, 8:00pm
All Saints Episcopal Church
555 Waverley St (at Hamilton)
San Francisco
Sun, June 4, 4:30pm
St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church
500 De Haro St.


18th Century
Blow, Blow, Thou Winter WindThomas Arne
Hark, Hark the LarkBenjamin Cooke
When Shall We Three Meet AgainSamuel Webbe
Hand in Hand with Fairy GraceBenjamin Cooke
19th Century
How Sweet the Moonlight SleepsDavid Emlyn Evans
Through the House Give Glimmering LightAmy Beach
O Mistress MineAlan Murray
Full Fathom FiveCharles Wood
20th Century
Three Shakespeare SongsRalph Vaughan Williams
Full Fathom Five
The Cloud-Capp’d Towers
Over Hill, Over Dale
Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s DayNils Lindberg
Shakespeare Songs, Book IVMatthew Harris
Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind
And Will A’ Not Come Again?
When Daffodils Begin to Peer
21st Century
There Rose MadrigalsPaul Crabtree
O, How Much More
The Forward Violet
O, Never Say That I Was False of Heart
Like as the Waves…Aaron Lington
When Time Is BrokeCecilia McDowall
Give Me Some Music
Mark How One String
How Sour Sweet Music Is
Cuckoo, CuckooDominic DiOrio
Shakespeare SuiteNancy Wertsch
It Was a Lover and His Lass
Oh Mistress Mine