New instrumental arrangement and recording

Aurora Orchestra and Amy Dickson have released a new Decca album of works by Gerald Finzi marking the 60th anniversary of the composer’s death.

It has been received with great enthusiasm …

“Finzi’s own compositions, several presented here in new arrangements by such as Paul Mealor and Mike Sheppard, seem to preserve a quintessentially British sensibility too.” Independent

“this release is attractively innovative in broadening the spectrum beyond the comparatively well-known cantata Dies natalis and the Clarinet Concerto, and in presenting some familiar works in a new guise… this is a touching, beautifully performed tribute” Daily Telegraph

“Each of the album’s new arrangements, commissioned for Aurora Orchestra by the Finzi Trust, offers fresh perspectives on the lyrical warmth of Finzi’s music.” Catholic Universe

“With its obvious sincerity, eloquence and approachability, Finzi’s artistic voice has received increasing public acclaim in the years following the composer’s 2001 centenary celebrations.  This album continues the forward journey, spotlighting young artists at the cutting edge of their performing careers together with internationally respected arrangers in a musical exploration using the innovative sound world of the saxophone.  Amy Dickson’s instinctive expressive empathy makes Finzi’s “songs without words” compellingly beautiful, not only bringing fresh insight for admirers of the composer’s work, but also enabling the repertoire to reach out to a completely new audience.” (Robert Gower, Chairman of the Finzi Trust)

Decca Classics – in collaboration with the Finzi Trust – have produced an album comprising many of the British composer’s finest works. Introit – The Music of Gerald Finzi features performances by the award-winning Aurora Orchestra under its co-founder and Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon. The album also includes solo contributions from Classic BRIT Award-winning saxophonist Amy Dickson. Finzi’s songs and choral works have been reinterpreted for Aurora Orchestra by four of today’s most versatile and imaginative British arrangers, Harvey Brough, Patrick Hawes, Paul Mealor and Mike Sheppard. Paul Mealor is known to millions worldwide as composer of the anthem performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Introit – The Music of Gerald Finzi, scheduled for release on 4 March 2016, catches the full flavour of Finzi, from the dynamic energy of songs such as “Rollicum-Rorum” and “Who is Silvia?” to the pastoral beauty of “The Salutation” from his Dies Natalis. The album’s tracklist also contains original instrumental compositions, Prelude and Romance among them, together with A Severn Rhapsody, the work that made Finzi’s name following its first performance in 1924. Eclogue for piano and strings stands among the composer’s most popular works and has become an essential fixture in Classic FM’s “Hall of Fame”. Introit – The Music of Gerald Finzi opens with Paul Mealor’s extended and enriched version of the ravishing final “Amen” from Finzi’s Lo, the full final sacrifice. Each of the album’s new arrangements, commissioned for Aurora Orchestra by the Finzi Trust, offers fresh perspectives on the lyrical warmth of Finzi’s music.
Gerald Finzi was born in London in 1901, the son of a shipbroker. He was deeply affected by the death of his father and three elder brothers in his formative years and the loss of his teacher, Ernest Farrar, during the First World War. “English poetry was probably [Finzi’s] deepest interest,” noted his friend and fellow composer Howard Ferguson in an obituary tribute published soon after his death in 1956. Finzi’s personal library, a collection of over 6,000 volumes, reflects his interests as connoisseur of fine verse. The subtle music of English poetry sounds in the composer’s long melodic lines and in the nostalgic melancholy often present in his work.
Thanks to the diverse and young following drawn to Amy Dickson and Aurora Orchestra, Finzi’s music is set to reach and move a large new audience.

“What a delight it has been to explore the wonderful music of Gerald Finzi in such detail for this disc. Some pieces I have known for a while, such as the stunning ‘Eclogue’ which was lovely to accompany tom Poster for. Others, including these new arrangements, have been discoveries for me, and again a delight to work with both Amy Dickson and Aurora’s leader, Thomas Gould, for this new look at Finzi’s extensive catalogue.” (Nick Collon, Principal Conductor, Aurora Orchestra)

“Making this album has been a real dream. I am a longtime admirer of the Aurora Orchestra and their exquisite and warm sound, and working with Nick Collon has been a truly exhilarating experience since he understands these songs perfectly and for me is a very natural musical collaborator. Finzi’s music has an understated yet passionate quality to it and I hope I do justice to these new arrangements of his beautiful and lyrical melodies.” (Amy Dickson, saxophone)

“I have always loved and felt inspired by the deeply English qualities of Finzi’s music.  I believe Fear No More the Heat of the Sun is his most beautiful song and it has been a real joy to arrange it for saxophone and strings.” (Patrick Hawes, arranger)

“From childhood I have been drawn to Finzi’s gentle, mystical and opaque music. It constantly twists and turns, taking the ear into ever new and unchartered territory. I have also been deeply drawn to the poets he sets in his vocal and choral music – Thomas Hardy and Thomas Treherne; poets that I have since attempted to set myself. 
This fabulous album has enabled me to live ‘inside’ Finzi’s music, to engage with it in a way only another composer can do, and to try to speak to it across time. By doing so, I’ve discovered a little of the complexity and simplicity of Finzi, his questioning and deeply personal musical world. And, living in his world, I’m drawn more and more to the poets he loved. Thomas Hardy perhaps sums up a little of Finzi’s world and maybe his life best:
So, to the one long-sweeping symphony
From times remote
Till now, of human tenderness, shall we
Supply one note,
Small and untraced, yet that will ever be
Somewhere afloat
Amid the spheres, as part of sick Life’s antidote.”
(Paul Mealor, arranger)

“I was honoured to be invited to contribute to this project for two reasons: first, I am a huge Finzi fan, and second, I have been looking for an opportunity to work with Amy Dickson for a long time.
In re-orchestrating and, in the case of ‘Rollicum-Rorum’, re-arranging Finzi’s music, I was again struck by the incredible delicacy of his writing, particularly in the ingenuity of his orchestration for strings.
‘Who Is Silvia’ is, of course, one of Finzi’s best-known songs and, in this version for horn and strings Nicolas Fleury’s warmth and musicality shine out as he sustains the vocal line beautifully.” (Mike Sheppard, arranger)

General media references:
“[Finzi’s music] speaks with a directness and simplicity that truly touches the heart”, Guardian
“Music always needs great communicators, and here’s one whose captivating instrumental voice could open up a whole new world”, Classic FM on Amy Dickson
“Bright, young and full of ideas … Aurora Orchestra meld classical music with anything from jazz to tango to Nico Muhly”, Guardian

Introit – The Music of Gerald Finzi
Aurora Orchestra / Nicholas Collon
International release 4 March 2016
CD   478 9357
Digital 478 9358
MfiT    478 9359
HD 478 9360

For more information, contact liz.chew@umusic.com or your local Decca representative.