Symphonia Academica & Kwanyee Chan

Location: St Mary's Church, Luton LU1 3JF
Kwanyee Chan

We welcome back Peter Bussereau’s Symphonia Academica in another diverse and imaginative programme. Both the Wagner and the Schoenberg have an obvious resonance with our season’s theme of The Relationship between Literature, Art & Music.

Based largely on the 12th-century romance Tristan and Iseult by Gottfried von Strassburg, Wagner’s version of the legend is refracted through the prism of the philosophical writings of Arthur Schopenhauer.

Schoenberg’s inspiration for Verklärte Nacht was a poem by Richard Dehmel – Zwei Menschen (Two People), taken from his poetic novel Weib und Welt (The Woman and the World). The poem is printed as a preface to the score. In a letter to Dehmel, Schoenberg writes: ‘Your poems had a decisive influence on my musical development. They made me look for a new note in lyrical poetry for the first time. That means I found this without looking for it, when I mirrored in my music what your verses aroused in me’.


Two figures walk through the bare, cold grove. The moon glides with them, they look into her face. The moon glides over high oak trees. No wisp of cloud veils the light from the heavens, into which the black branches reach.

The voice of a woman speaks: “I carry a child, but he is not yours. I walk in sin beside you; I went astray; I no longer believed in happiness, and yet the longing for meaning to my life, for the cares and joys of motherhood, lay heavy upon me. I grew shameless as my shuddering body yielded to the embrace of an unknown man, and so I am now with child”. She looks up, the moon glides on. Her dark face is drowned in light.

The voice of a man speaks: “Let the child you have conceived be no burden on your soul. Just see how all the Universe glistens. Everything around us gleams. You are floating with me on a cold sea, yet between our two hearts there flickers some special warmth, from you to me, from me to you, that will bear that child to me, by me. You kindled that flame in me. You have turned even me into a child”. He caught her around her strong hips. Their breath kisses in the air. Two figures walk through the high, bright night.

It is a special pleasure to welcome Kwanyee Chan to Luton to play Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.2. This has been made possible by a generous donation to the club, allowing us in particular to encourage young artists. Kwanyee is pursuing a Masters degree at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama as a pupil of pianist Lucy Parham (who made such memorable contributions to our Christmas concert last season).

    Richard Sisson (Chair of Luton Music)

Richard Wagner – Prelude to Tristan und Isolde
(arranged by Sebastian Gurtler)
Frederic Chopin – Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor


Arnold Schoenberg – Verklärte Nacht

Symphonia Academica – String Sextet
Kwanyee Chan – piano

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