A special concert celebrating British composer Ailsa Dixon (1932 – 2017).

Villiers Quartet
Lucinda Cox

Ailsa Dixon  Nocturnal Scherzo
Ethel Smyth  String Quartet in E Minor
Ailsa Dixon  The Spirit of Love

A recent revival of interest in the composer Ailsa Dixon has led to the performance of new works, including a set of songs for soprano and string quartet, ‘The Spirit of Love’, receiving its premiere at this concert, performed alongside the composer’s Nocturnal Scherzo and Ethel Smyth’s String Quartet in E minor.

Event supported by the Gemma Trust and the Music Reprieval Trust


World premiere of Ailsa Dixon’s The Spirit of Love

Among the many women composers side-lined in musical history who are becoming the focus of new interest, Ailsa Dixon only began to receive her share of recognition in the last months of her life. A handful of performances during her most fertile period of composition in the 1980s and ’90s (notably by Ian Partridge, Lynne Dawson, and the Brindisi Quartet) were followed by several decades of almost complete neglect. Then in 2017, a work that had been lying in manuscript for thirty years was premiered in London in the spectacular glass-roofed concert hall surrounding the keel of the Cutty Sark, just five weeks before she died. This has led to a revival of interest in her music and a growing number of performances. Among the works in her archive that were still awaiting their first performance, Airs of the Seasons, a sonata for piano duet, was premiered at St George’s in 2018, and hailed by one reviewer as ‘most definitely a work by a British composer with an original musical vision’. In this programme the world premiere of The Spirit of Love, a set of 3 songs for soprano and string quartet dating from 1987-8, is paired with Dixon’s Nocturnal Scherzo (1986) and the Quartet in E Minor by Ethel Smyth. Written in 1902, Smyth’s quartet likewise had to wait for its first performance, some 12 years later, during which time she revised the score substantially. It was recently described as ‘a spellbinding work that deserves a higher profile’.

Further information on Ailsa Dixon:
British Music Society
Illuminate Women in Music

Thursday 20 February

Villiers Quartet & Lucinda Cox – Lunchtime Concert – Ailsa Dixon & Ethel Smyth

Tickets £8, Buy a series ticket for £60
Free for 8 – 25s

A 5% booking fee applies online and over the phone. A £2 postage fee is charged where applicable.

Recommended Age: 8+

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