Out of the blue, while holidaying in the fabulous fresh air of friendly British Columbia, I received an email from England. Tomorrow I’ll be going down to a Toronto studio to be interviewed for a BBC 4 radio show about Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius. That’s all because of this blog and my posts about that composer. So, I keep on blogging, even though here, on a weekend break with my parents, the Ontario summer is so hot and humid one can barely summon the strength to lift a cold beer.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to hearing a couple of my compositions this summer. At St. George’s Church in Oshawa my newest piece is being premiered this Thursday evening. I was commissioned to write this in honour of the prominent Toronto composer Ruth Watson Henderson who will be receiving an honourary degree from the SICM. “And as I wake” is for choir and organ, based on an excerpt from a poem by Milton: “There let the pealing organ blow to the full voiced choir below, in service high and anthems clear, as may with sweetness, through mine ear, dissolve me into ecstasies, and bring all heaven before my eyes.” The performers start rehearsing tomorrow morning with a wonderful conductor, U of T’s Hilary Apfelstadt and organist David Palmer. Hot off the press, Kelman Hall of Kitchener-Waterloo is providing published copies already.

The other composition is “When you are old and grey” which you can download for free from my compositions page on this blog. In July (I can barely write these surreal words) the superstar British baritone Roderick Williams proposes to sing this song (hopefully, fingers crossed,) as the encore for his recital at the Three Choirs Festival. If you’re attending, let’s make sure he comes back for at least one extra song!

Over in England I will be doing a very cool thing – walking Chaucer’s pilgrimage road to Canterbury with my sister Cori Martin. Her poetry was also found on my blog by some British folks last year. Her poem “Christmas Cattle” was read at Ex Cathedra’s candlelit concerts of poetry and music last December. While on the road I’m hoping we can collaborate on a very exciting, upcoming, top secret commission. Back in London we’ll be engaging in some quality Shakespeare time, doing the Henry the Sixth marathon at the Globe Theatre. All three parts of Henry VI will be performed consecutively on the same day, with ample breaks for second breakfast, elevenses, lunch and tea. Any bets on whether we can stand in the yard for all three plays?

These varied summer activities are going to be very special, and if the fates allow, I shall blog.

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10 Responses to The blog days of summer

  1. Emily says:

    Stephanie — how fantastic — all of it! The interview; the honour of composing in honour of Ruth Watson Henderson; holidaying and collaborating with your sister; a stellar baritone singing your hauntingly beautiful piece – I trust you will be in the audience to hear Roddy! Congratulations! Enjoy it all!
    Best, Emily

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      Thanks Emily. I know you’ve also got a lovely summer ahead of you. All the best as you commune with nature and enjoy your beautiful family!

  2. Jo-Ann Dawson says:

    What a wonderful summer you have lined up! Blog away. I don’t want to miss a bit.

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      Aaaw! Thanks Jo-Ann. Actually the very best thing about the dog days of summer is doing absolutely nothing. I’ve spent some quality time with good friends and family, and I wouldn’t trade that for any world premiere : )

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      …and yes, I managed to get a ticket for Roddy’s sold-out recital. My American friend Jackson Hill has a song on the programme. It’s going to be a Three Choirs Festival like none other.

  3. Julia Armstrong says:

    Wonderful about the St. George’s Oshawa premiere. And exciting about the encore in the works for the Three Choirs Festival. Wishing you and Cori all the best for the pilgrimage. See you at the font in Canterbury Cathedral on July 21! (I’ve been spreading the word that you’ll be there.)

  4. Renee says:

    about Radio4:- Well, but when! will be broadcast your interview about what The Dream means to you? I and your Wolverhampton, and wider, friends want to hear what you have to say; but you must tell us date and time of the transmission.
    For which Radio4 program.? and Who interviewed you? If you can just tell me that, then I can probably identify the exact program.
    Hurry and say, because I don’t want to be too late and miss it altogether! I’m waiting . . .

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      This is a documentary for a radio show called “Soul Music.” The producer has a lot of editing to do since I’m only one of many people whose experiences will be woven in to the programme while Elgar’s music plays. I will definitely post this on my blog as soon as I know when the broadcast date will be. Thanks for your enthusiasm!

    • Stephanie Martin says:

      The programme will air on Sunday 11 August at 1330, and is available online:


      In the end the producer did not use my interview for the show. There are plenty of other wonderful stories to hear though.

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