The Arthur Bliss Society
The Tea and Talk 2015
The Society’s tea and talk was held as part of the Hereford Three Choirs Festival
on Monday 27 July 2015 at The Left Bank complex, Hereford,
prior to the evening concert.
Thirty-six members and friends went by coach from the Cheltenham area and within a few minutes,
meeting the many other members and friends present, the usual friendly atmosphere at Society events
was again evident. The Tea was held at The Left Bank complex by the side of the river Avon. The room
held eighty people and the event had been sold out . This did show that people are interested in learning
more about Bliss and his music. Many of those present had not even heard of Morning Heroes and were
keen to learn more before the performance.
The Chairman, Gerald Towell, welcomed members and guests and extended a very warm welcome to the
speaker, Andrew Burn. Andrew, who is the Chairman of the Bliss Trust, then gave a fascinating talk
entitled ‘Now Trumpeter, for thy close”: an introduction to Morning Heroes. He gave a very interesting
résumé of Bliss’s life leading up to World War 1, telling us how he had volunteered for the British Army
within two days of the war being declared, later serving with distinction in the Grenadier Guards. He
explained Bliss's involvement and the traumas he experienced during the horrors of the Somme, where
his beloved brother Kennard was killed. Andrew illustrated this with some musical extracts: he drew
attention particularly to the Suite for Piano 1925 where Bliss had dedicated the slow movement, ‘Elegy', in
memory of Kennard. (This work has been recorded by Mark Bebbington in Volume 1 of the complete Bliss
Piano Music: see our Recordings page.)
His talk was moving and poignant, and illustrated so well how Bliss came to compose the work. The
Society is very grateful to the Bliss Trust for supporting these events. It is to be hoped that more Bliss will
appear at future Three Choirs Festivals, which will enable us to arrange similar events. Certainly it helped
to give Bliss more prominence, and enhanced his profile.
The evening concert started with the 5th Symphony of Sibelius, for which Sir Andrew Davis and the
Philharmonia gave a spine-tingling performance. The conductor, orchestra, choir and orator gave a
memorable and thrilling performance of Morning Heroes. Sir Andrew has a splendid feel for the
architecture of the piece and it was greeted with long applause and standing ovations at the end. Many of
those present must have wondered why they had never heard this work before, and certainly it showed
what a great composer Bliss was. The concert was supported by the Bliss Trust.
Details of Sir Andrew's new recording of Morning Heroes can be found on our Recordings page.