Paul Stanhope (b. 1969) is a Sydney-based composer and a leading figure in his generation. He has had prominent performances of his works in the UK, Europe, Asia as well as North and South America. After studies with Peter Sculthorpe, Paul studied for a time at the Guildhall School of Music in London in 2000.
In May 2004 Paul’s international standing was confirmed when he was awarded first place in the Toru Takemitsu Composition Prize. In 2010 Paul’s String Quartet no. 2 was premiered by the Pavel Haas String Quartet and toured by Musica Viva Australia throughout the country.
Paul has composed a number of major works in recent years for large forces, the most recent being Jandamarra: Sing for the Country a dramatic cantata based on the life of the Western Australian indigenous resistance hero, premiered by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in 2014.
Paul is a Senior Lecturer in the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney and the Artistic Chair of the Australia Ensemble. He was also Musical Director of the Sydney Chamber Choir from 2006-2015.
Stanhope’s piece was written 1999. The text by Michael Dransfield, partly autobiographical, explores personal change and the inevitability of things being forgotten. Aimed at a top treble choir (children or women) although the individual parts themselves are not difficult.
A collection of four pieces for treble voices and piano.
1. Talking to My Shoe
2. Underpants Anthem
3. La-La Land
4. Lost the Plot
Composer Paul Stanhope writes:
Losing the Plot is a collection of songs for children’s voices and piano with texts by Michael Leunig. They were written as a follow up to my earlier cycle of Leunig pieces called Songs of Innocence and Joy for treble voices and chamber orchestra.
The first of these pieces, Talking to My Shoe was commissioned and premiered by the Sydney Children’s Choir as part of their 15th anniversary in 2004. The remaining three songs in the cycle were commissioned by the Network of Treble Ensembles (NoTE) which includes Brisbane Biralee Voices, Gondwana Voices,Young Adelaide Voices and Young Voices of Melbourne. All the songs in this set are tinged with an exuberant sense of the absurd, but as usual with Leunig’s texts, there are many layers of meaning and often twists in the tale.
The songs are written for upper-primary to high-school aged treble voices mostly in unison and two parts. In two songs—Talking to My Shoe and La–La Land—the choir splits into three parts, but only in a couple of short passages. A more difficult version of this piece also exists with the voices divided into three parts.
Permission should be sought from Penguin Books Australia before re-printing any of the texts.
Though written in an advanced idiom, this work was commissioned and first performed by Graeme Morton’s St Peters Chorale, a high school choir. The composer writes “musically, this work has been much influenced by Renaissance choral music…my aim above all things was to draw upon a tradition of writing that is solemn, richly spiritual but ultimately life-affirming”.
The sound file was recorded by the Sydney Chamber Choir, conducted by the composer, and from a CD released through ABC Classics. Lux aeterna is recorded on the Sydney Chamber Choir CD Songs for the Shadowland.
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