In the House… with an oboe

In another instalment from our In the House project, we present Brian Mark’s Fantasia on a Lament, a work written in response to visiting 17 Elder Street, a property dating from the early 18th century. Oboist Vicky Jones premiered the work in our Winter Festival 2011. Hear the track, performed by oboist Christopher Redgate, and read more about the piece below.

When I was asked by Spitalfields Music to write my first piece on UK soil, notably a composition for solo oboe, I immediately thought of how this instrument has developed since Elizabethan times. The oboe was referred to as the ‘hautbois’ in the mid 17th century, its predecessor known as the ‘shawm’, and so I recalled musical styles during the Elizabethan era. Since English music flourished during the Renaissance and the Baroque periods, I was always inspired  by Purcell’s simple lament from his opera Dido and Aeneas, ‘When I am Laid in Earth’. I decided to use a delay pedal for this composition, in order to exhibit a hypnotic homage based on this theme, bringing the audience to an earlier time in England’s history. As this commission is improvised on this melody, Fantasia on a Lament became the appropriate title due to its hauntingly melancholic landscape.


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