Looking Back on 2019

It’s been a wonderful year for Emma, singing in many different countries including Nepal, Hungary, and Vietnam for both charitable and commercial causes, recording under the record label Floating World Records, and gradually publishing her compositions with Edition HH.

With HRH The Duchess of Cornwall at CWGC Bayeux Cemetery, 6th June, 2019.

Emma sang for veterans in the presence of HRH Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on 6th June in Bayeux, France, following the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day landings. Later in the year, she sang in the presence of HRH Princess Margriet and her husband Prof. Pieter van Vollenhoven at the Air Borne commemorations in Arnhem, the Netherlands. It was lovely to see the respect shown to the veterans by both members of the public and by the royal guests. Emma was also honoured to be invited to sing for the US Mission to the EU’s Independence Day celebration in Brussels, Belgium, which various dignitaries including Jared Kushner attended.

Emma continues to sing for veterans and for remembrance ceremonies. She sang for Gurkha veterans and their families at the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Pokhara, Nepal. Back in Europe, Emma sang for D-Day and Operation Market Garden commemorations, as well as for the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s veterans reunion in Portsmouth and at their fundraising dinner on HMS Victory. She also sang in Venray, the Netherlands, for their celebration of seventy-five years of liberation, and at the First World War commemorations in Arras and the Somme.

On this theme, together with pianist Han-Louis Meijer, Emma released her first solo CD. “Echoes of War” presents music from and about the First and Second World Wars. It includes songs which were popular songs during both wars, such as those made famous by Vera Lynn, songs by classical composers such as Ravel, Poulenc, and Butterworth, love songs, patriotic songs, and retrospective songs. The CD is available at Floating World Records and various online stores and music-streaming systems.

Design: Joe Montgomery

Emma’s next recording, also on Floating World Records, is with the progressive rock band “Simple Harmonic Motion.” “Fantasia” is due to be released in Febuary 2020. It includes sensitive and moving covers of classical music, including the Bach-Gounod “Ave Maria,” the Sanctus from Fauré’s Requiem, and various English folk melodies. Simple Harmonic Motion have a fascinating approach to performance: as well as using a mixture of live playing and synthesised backing tracks, they immense the audience in powerful light projections. For a taste of their work, please see the video below.

Another wonderful collaboration has been with Hungarian guitarist Robert Sinha. Robert and Emma worked together on a programme of music from the commemorations of the Dutch Admiral De Ruyter in the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam last February. In September, they toured Budapest and Cegled, Hungary, with a programme of English music from Dowland to Sting. There are plans for further tours in 2020 and 2021. Below is a video of their work.

Emma also sang for a very wonderful children’s organisation, the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, which has helped over a million children in Vietnam and Mongolia. The foundation was established thirty years ago by Christina Noble OBE, who was forced to live on the streets of Dublin as a teenager, and today helps children avoid the same horrendous circumstances. After singing a fundraising concert in Westport, Ireland, Emma was invited to sing at the foundation’s thirty-year anniversary gala in Ho Chi Minh city. Please do take some time to read about Christina’s life and work, for example in her autobiographies “Bridge Across My Sorrows” and “Mama Tina,” and consider donating to the foundation here.

Emma’s compositions are being published by Edition HH. Her motet “O Lux Beata Trinitas” was sung in Bath Abbey, Nottingham Cathedral, and St Thomas, Mellor, Stockport, all in the UK, as well as in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, in her home town of Leiden, the Netherlands, Emma was commissioned to write music for the carillon (city bells) for the city’s annual 3rd October liberation festival. Her composition “Leidse Gedenck Klokken” will be published by Edition Pors, a publisher specialising in music for carillons.

And on that note, here is a Christmas carol which was published last November and is available here.

Next year already has some interesting concerts, including singing in Ulaanbaatar for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, at remembrance ceremonies in France and the Netherlands, and at the Hay on Wye Second World War commemorations.

Thank you for reading, and thank you to all the musicians, organisers, and members of the public who have supported Emma over the last years. Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

2019-12-19T11:21:03+02:00December 22nd, 2019|

Composition Première: “Mater Pulchra”

Composition Première: “Mater Pulchra”

On Sunday, 22nd December, Emma’s new composition “Mater Pulchra” (‘Beautiful’ or ‘Noble’ Mother) will be premiered by the Leidse Cantorij and conductor Hans Brons during their Advent Concert in the Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden. Inspired by John 1: 5 and the work of Christina Noble OBE, this a cappella piece calls upon us to let our light shine out through darkness.

Sunday, 22nd December, 20:15, Hooglandse Kerk, Leiden, the Netherlands

Free entry: a collection is taken after the concert

2019-12-19T10:48:48+02:00December 16th, 2019|

Christmas at the Dutch Veterans’ Institute

The Veterans’ Institute in Doorn, the Netherlands, supports and assists Dutch war veterans, functions as a knowledge and research centre for all subjects related to veterans, and works closely with the Dutch Ministry of Defense on issues related to veterans.

Emma is delighted to be returning for a forth year to sing in the Veterans’ Institute’s annual Christmas concert. She will join the Band of Liberation and conductor Simon Dubbelaar for a festive concert.

As well as traditional Christmas repertoire, the programme includes songs from the Second World War to mark next year’s celebrations of seventy-five years of liberation in Europe. There will be some fantastic arrangements by Pipe Major Hans Dubbelaar, as well as Rob Richardson’s setting of the rousing Welsh hymn “Calon Lân,” and Graham Atterbury’s arrangement of “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” which he made especially for Emma for the Hay on Wye First World War centenary commemorations in 2018.

It will be a beautiful mixture of Christmas, nostalgia, and hope, a fitting concert for Dutch veterans who gave so much for us.

Sunday, 15th December, Veterans Institute, Doorn, the Netherlands (by invitation)

2019-12-09T13:31:32+02:00December 13th, 2019|

A Fanfare Christmas

On Saturday, 14th December, Emma will join Harmonie Slikkerveer and conductor Jurgen Nab for a Christmas concert. They will perform a range of Christmas music, including traditional British Christmas carols.

The programme begins with “Once in Royal David’s City,” a tribute to King’s College Cambridge and the late Sir Stephen Cleobury. Carols from King’s is a century-old tradition, broadcast on BBC radio and more recently on television. During her studies at Cambridge, Emma attended the recording of the television broadcast in 2003 and remembers fondly dinners with Dr Cleobury and the choir.

In addition, the programme includes well-known English carols such as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!,” “Silent Night” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” as well as the beautiful old Dutch carol “Nu syt welle kome.”

Emma arranged “Ave Maria” – allegedly by Caccini but actually by the Russian composer Vladimir Vavilov – especially for the concert: her first arrangement for Fanfare Orchestra.

There are also compositions and arrangements by Philip Sparke, Harrie Janssen, and from the Salvation Army carol books.

It promises to be a wonderful, festive evening.

For more information (in Dutch), please follow this link.

Saturday, 14th December, Sint Joris Kerk, Ridderkerk, the Netherlands

2019-12-09T13:20:59+02:00December 9th, 2019|

Wereld Lichtjes Dag – Worldwide Candle-lighting Day

On 8th December, across the globe, candles will be lit in vigils to remember children, infants, babies, and unborn babies who died too young, and to show solidarity with those who grieve.

Emma will sing during an intimate, inclusive ceremony in her home town, led by Leta Janssen.

Sunday, 8th December, 18:30 (doors open 18:15), Leiden City Hall’s “Burgerzaal,” Leiden, the Netherlands

Free entry: please contact wereldlichtjesdagleiden@gmail.com

2019-12-06T09:22:16+02:00December 3rd, 2019|

Sweet was the Song

Emma’s composition “Sweet was the Song the Virgin Sung” is now available through Edition HH:

http://www.editionhh.co.uk/shop/item.aspx?itemid=780

This simple and captivating four-part (SATB) setting should be suitable for choirs of most levels.

“Emma Brown’s setting of ‘Sweet was the Song’, simple yet utterly compelling, captures the Renaissance character of the text while imparting a fresh, modern twist. Suitable for choirs both professional and amateur, it would make a beautiful addition to a Christmas concert or carol service, as well as providing a touching moment of spiritual reflection during Midnight Mass.”

-Per Hartmann

Text: William Ballet‘s Lute Book in Library of Trinity College, Dublin, c.1600

With thanks to the Leidse Cantorij, Leiden, the Netherlands and their director of music Hans Brons for this beautiful recording.

2019-11-29T14:29:18+02:00November 29th, 2019|

Return to Pontefract!

In concert with the West Yorkshire Police Band and Bill Henderson in 2018: performing Rule Britannia.

Emma is delighted to be joining the West Yorkshire Police Band under conductor Alan Jazwinski and the Castleford Male Voice Choir for a concert in Pontefract, England, for a festive concert on the first weekend of advent. Emma has sung with the West Yorkshire Police Band several times, both in the UK and in Belgium, for example during remembrance weekend at ceremonies in Messines, Tyne Cot, and the Menin Gate. She is delighted to be joining them again for a charity concert in aid of the Prince of Wales Hospice.

Saturday, 30th November, 19:00, St Giles’ Church, Pontefract, England

For tickets, please email hospicedarts@yahoo.co.uk

2019-11-28T17:17:58+02:00November 24th, 2019|

Echoes of War CD

Emma’s CD “Echoes of War” is available!

Pianist Han Louis Meijer and Emma recorded music from and about the First and Second World Wars. With a mixture of familiar and new songs, popular and classical styles, there is something for everyone.

The CD includes love songs such as ‘Roses of Picardy,’ ‘Als op het Leidscheplein’ – a Dutch song full of longing for the lights in Amsterdam to shine once more, and of course songs made famous by Vera Lynn. There are rousing patriotic songs including ‘I vow to thee my country’ and ‘Jerusalem,’ and the uplifting ‘Dam-busters March’ as a flamboyant piano solo. We also recorded classical songs by Poulenc and Butterworth, and three songs by the children’s author Ilse Weber. Weber worked as a volunteer nurse in the children’s infirmary when she was imprisoned in Theresienstadt. When the children in her care were transported to Auschwitz she volunteered to go with them. On arrival, she and the children were sent to the gas chamber.

The CD is available through Floating World Records at this link.

2019-11-28T17:18:41+02:00November 24th, 2019|

Bach’s Cantata 182 and Mozart’s Requiem

On 23rd November, Emma will be a guest soloist in Bach’s Cantata 182 and Mozart’s Requiem in the MCO, Hilversum, the Netherlands. She will join soloists soprano Henriette Feith, tenor Arco Mandemake, and bass Donald Bentvelsen, under conductor Nico Philipp Hovius with the Toonkunstkoor, Hilversum, and the Barokorkest Cappella Maria Barbara.

Saturday, 23rd November, 20:00, Muziekcentrum van de Omroep, Hilversum, the Netherlands

For tickets, please follow this link.

2019-11-22T10:17:03+02:00November 17th, 2019|

German Commemorates All Victims of War

“An unknown German Soldier.”

Each year, on the second Sunday before Advent, Germany commemorates members of the armed forces of all nations and civilians who died in armed conflicts and oppression. Emma is deeply honored and moved to have been invited to sing for the “Volkstrauertag” ceremony at Ysselsteyn cemetery in the Netherlands, where over 31,000 soldiers are buried. She is there on the invitation of the British Veteran John Sleep, who fought and was wounded nearby. John believes strongly in ‘Peace Between All Nations’ and has attended the ceremony in Ysselsteyn for several years.

Sunday, 17th November 13:30, Ysselsteyn German War Cemetery, the Netherlands

2019-11-06T20:15:20+02:00November 11th, 2019|