Butterworth Centenary Festival
Radley staged a two-day celebration of George Butterworth’s life, work and influences in collaboration with the English Music Festival on Thursday and Friday, May 26th and 27th. Over 100 boys took part in the proceedings, alongside a multitude of external speakers, musicians and dancers to commemorate the Centenary of George Butterworth’s death and to celebrate his Radley connections.
The two-day celebrations included visits from distinguished speakers and musicians, as well as boys of the College, who took part in delivering a range of concerts, readings, talks, plays (including ‘Journey’s End’) and installations. One of these talks was given by BBC Radio 3’s Petroc Trelawny, who presents the ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Music Matters’ shows. Mr Trelawny spoke on Butterworth’s influence, before introducing the performance of the Six Songs from ‘A Shropshire Lad’ at the Lodge - where Butterworth lived during his time at Radley in 1909/10 - by ORs, Lawrence Halksworth (baritone) and Michael Dussek (piano) (both pictured below, with Petroc Trelawny).
H Social’s Henry Parkin and Sven Winkler gave a short but informative talk on an art installation which the art scholars had put together, and there were a selection of First World War artefacts scattered around the campus. An Old Radleian, Charlie Saunders, who returned to Radley for the event said, ‘It’s so nice to be back for such a special event in such beautiful weather’. Head of Classics IKC, also gave an excellent talk on the War Poets (below), including the work of Sassoon and Owen.
George Butterworth was a talented young musician and Oxford graduate who took up a teaching post at Radley, where he lived at the Lodge, at the bottom of the main drive and started the Radley Choral Society. Butterworth’s life ended prematurely on the Somme in August 1916.
One of the highlights of the day was the ‘Morris Dancing’ at Clocktower, which was in fact performed by the same group, The Oxford City and Oxford University Morris Men, that Butterworth founded when he was at Oxford University. Other events included an art installation in the Theatre Foyer and a series of songs performed by the boys in the ante-Chapel: that of Tom Tyrwhitt-Drake particularly standing out.
The busy event’s proceedings were a hugely enjoyable occasion and a chance to see something slightly unusual and unique, which typically one would not have experienced - thanks to the organisation of the Music Department’s A.J.A. Williams.
Report by Alexander Milne, H Social 6.1