Emma Johnson: Songs of Celebration | Nimbus - Alliance NI6431

Emma Johnson: Songs of Celebration


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Label: Nimbus - Alliance

Cat No: NI6431

Barcode: 0710357643125

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Vocal/Choral

Release Date: 2nd September 2022



Emma Johnson (clarinet, narrator)
John Lenehan (piano)
The Choir of Gloucester Cathedral


Adrian Partington


Bach, Johann Sebastian

Cantata BWV147 'Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben'
» Jesu bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man's desiring) (arr. Emma Johnson)

Dove, Jonathan

The Pied Piper

Johnson, Emma

Songs of Celebration
Variations on 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'

Multiple composers

Christmas Suite (arr. Emma Johnson)


Emma Johnson (clarinet, narrator)
John Lenehan (piano)
The Choir of Gloucester Cathedral


Adrian Partington


‘In 2018 I was delighted to accept the challenge of writing a Christmas song for clarinet and higher voices and decided to set one of my favourite medieval poems, I Sing of a Maiden that is Makeless. The poem tells of the miracle of the divine birth and is a paean to the mother of Christ. I became so fascinated with composing for clarinet and upper voices that I found myself writing three more songs, all celebrating the Christmas story. All four songs are grouped under the title, Songs of Celebration and they can be performed separately or as a suite.

‘Oddly, the lyrics for
Precious Gift, came to me whilst waiting in an NHS hospital waiting room. Perhaps influenced by my surroundings, I focus on the pain inherent in baby Jesus’ story! An epilogue from the clarinet expressing grief completes the story and turns the mood around in readiness for the final carol.

There is No Rose of Such Virtue is another early 15th-century poem equating Mary with a vigorously growing rose, a popular metaphor of the time. It was very gratifying to see the children in Gloucester Cathedral Choir singing this carol with gusto, relishing its beat boxing and glissandi which felt at once incongruously modern and yet perfectly apposite in the cathedral surroundings.’
– Emma Johnson

‘Late in 2009, Emma Johnson approached me with an enticing idea: she would become the Pied Piper, using her clarinet as the pipe. Could I set Browning’s poem to music? A well-known actor might narrate the poem. I suggested that it could be even more exciting if she were to narrate the poem herself.

‘The piece took on larger dimensions when the commissioner invited us to include massed recorder players. I realised that the youthful players could conjure up the infestation of rats with some penetrating squeaking. In a more melodic vein, the recorders could then create a magical atmosphere when the Piper changes his tune to summon the children of Hamelin. They could echo the infectious music, as more and more children join the dance. Finally, the young performers could abandon their instruments altogether and burst into song.’

– Jonathan Dove

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