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The Farthest Shore by Paul Mealor

Paul Mealor’s new work ‘The Farthest Shore’ was funded through our partnership programme Beyond Borders, receiving it’s English premiere on 2nd July 2013.

The performance is part of the City of London Festival, at St. Bride’s Church, Fleet Street. It will be performed by the outstanding BBC Singers, under Nicholas Cleobury, with Onyx Brass, Daniel Cook (organ), the combined children’s choirs of St Davids Cathedral and Cumnor House School and soloists Claire Seaton (soprano) and Giles Underwood (bass).

‘The Farthest Shore is an extraordinary Celtic tale inspired by the folklore and documented history of the mystic isle of Anglesey, spiritual home to the last of the Druids and the Avalon of Arthurian legend.

Cast upon an unforgiving shore in the dead of night, during a terrible storm, a stranger weaves an unfathomable, unforgettable spell over the inhabitants of a small village.  Based on a fireside legend, passed down to successive generations on the darkest of wind-lashed nights, this remarkable tale entwines reality, morality and faith in the quest for an ultimate personal truth. (See attached treatment.)  Turning from conflict to resolution, ‘The Farthest Shore’ fits neatly with the City of London Festival’s theme for this year.

Mealor was catapulted to international attention when 2.5 billion people heard Ubi Caritas, composed for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey in April 2011.  Paul and JAM have a strong relationship; Paul successfully submitted music to JAM in 2002 & 3 as an emerging/novice composer. In 2010, JAM commissioned Mealor’s Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal. This was re-written for the Royal Wedding, setting the more appropriate words of Ubi Caritas. 

Following the heady success of Tenebrae’s chart-topping CD, A Tender Light, the Royal Wedding and the Military Wives, The Farthest Shore will be a significant piece for Paul; a 35-minute part oratorio, part opera, on a mighty scale.  With its constantly changing background of performers staged around St. Bride’s, this work will break compositional boundaries by fusing opera and oratorio, attracting new audiences from both opera and choral worlds.

Paul comments “I have always been drawn to oratorio …This will be a first for me and enable me to develop, on a large canvas, ideas of homogeneity and conflict within a harmonic framework.

‘The Farthest Shore’ will be performed agaon on 6th July at St. Leonard’s Church, Hythe (Kent) – next to the sea.

This work was commissioned by JAM, St. David’s Festival and Edinburgh Royal Choral Union (ERCU).