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Jonathan Dove and Alasdair Middleton to write new songs for Friday Afternoons 2016

15 February 2016

We are thrilled to announce that Jonathan Dove will be writing a new set of songs for this year’s Friday Afternoons project, set to specially commissioned texts by Alasdair Middleton. These songs will be released in April, so keep an eye out on our website! Scores, backing tracks and resources will be available on the website free of charge, to support learning of the songs.

‘Not since Benjamin Britten has a British composer succeeded in writing operas which communicate with such clarity and coherence to their audience as those by Jonathan Dove’

The Gramophone


Born in 1959, Jonathan Dove's early musical experience came from playing the piano, organ and viola. Later he studied composition with Robin Holloway at Cambridge and, after graduation, worked as a freelance accompanist, repetiteur, animateur and arranger. His early professional experience gave him a deep understanding of singers and the complex mechanics of the opera house. Opera and the voice have been the central priorities in Dove’s output throughout his subsequent career.

Starting with his breakthrough opera Flight, commissioned by Glyndebourne in 1998, Dove has gone on to write over twenty operatic works. In 2010 A Song of Joys for chorus and orchestra opened the festivities at the Last Night of the Proms.  Throughout his career Dove has made a serious commitment to community development through innovative musical projects. His 2012 opera Life is a Dream, was performed by professionals and community choruses in a disused Birmingham warehouse, and a church opera involving community singers The Walk from the Garden was premiered at Salisbury Cathedral. 

2015 brought the World Premieres of The Day After, commissioned and produced by Holland Opera with a libretto by April de Angelis, a post-Apocalyptic setting of the myth of Phaeton written specifically to be performed outside; and The Monster in the Maze, a new opera for children, young people and adults, with a libretto by Alasdair Middleton, commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, and Festival d’Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, and led by Sir Simon Rattle and Simon Halsey.


Alasdair Middleton was born in Yorkshire and trained at the Drama Centre, London. His work as a librettist includes: with Jonathan Dove – The Monster in the Maze(Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Aix-en-Provence Festival), Diana and Actaeon(Royal Ballet), The Walk From The Garden(Aegeas Salisbury International Arts Festival), Life Is A Dream(Birmingham Opera), Mansfield Park(Heritage Opera), Swanhunter(Opera North), The Enchanted Pig(The Young Vic, ROH2), The Adventures of Pinocchio(Opera North), and the cantata On Spital Fields(Spitalfields Festival, winner of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award); With Paul Englishby – Pleasure’s Progress(ROH2), Who Is This That Comes(Opera North) and The Crane Maiden(KAAT Yokohama). Other libretti include The World Was All Before Them, On London Fields, winner of an Royal Philharmonic Society Award, A Bird In Your Ear(New York City Opera), The North Wind Was A Woman(A Song Cycle for Dawn Upshaw), Everything Money Can Buy(Selfridges) The Feathered Friend. He has written four plays; Aeschylean Nasty, Shame On You Charlotte, Casta Diva and Einmal.