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Charity searches for composer’s missing manuscripts

18 August 2023

© Bill Smith

Elizabeth Poston in 1979

Elizabeth Poston in 1979

CHURCH TIMES readers with a connection to the Oxford Summer School for Singers of 1961 may be able to assist the hunt for the missing manuscripts of Elizabeth Poston, a composer best known for her setting of the carol “Jesus Christ the Apple Tree”.

When Poston died in 1987, she left behind a vast estate, most of which has never been published. Multitude of Voyces (MoV), a charity dedicated to “supporting underrepresented and marginalised groups through the creative use of music and words”, has recently acquired the intellectual property of this estate. With plans to bring Poston’s work back to public attention, through research, publication, and recordings, the charity is also engaged in a dogged search for several missing manuscripts.

MULTITUDE OF VOYCESThe empty box that once contained a recording of Elizabeth Poston’s setting of the Magnificat

“We know that some musicians took the only copy of some scores home with them after première performances and some may still have them in boxes in their attics not realising how important it is that these works can be re-assembled once more while there still remain some folk able to provide first-hand information,” the director of MoV, Louise Stewart, said.

Among the manuscripts that remain missing are those of her Magnificat and Benedicite, which both received their both premières at the Oxford Summer School for Singers in1961. Also sought are The Wakefield Second Shepherds’ Play, incidental music for a radio play, first broadcast on the BBC’s Third Programme on 26 December 1947, and her song “Bequest”, composed in 1948.

“Above all, we want to learn more from those who remember her personally,” Mrs Stewart says. MoV would particularly like to hear from those who had professional associations with Poston, including performers, commissioners of new works, broadcasters, and publishers.

To contact the Poston Project, please email: poston@multitudeofvoyces.co.uk

Donations can be made at cafdonate.cafonline.org/22923.

Read our feature on Elizabeth Poston

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