This colourful and exotic setting of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem is a welcome addition to the English choral repertory. The absence of Rawsthorne's original orchestral score (destroyed in 1940 during a bombing raid) had, until 2007, prevented the performance of this extraordinary work. However, a new orchestration by Edward Harper (available on hire from Oxford University Press) has allowed Rawsthorne's dream-like evocation of an exotic land to take its rightful place on the concert platform.
Alan Rawsthorne was born in Haslingden, Lancashire. He spent a period of training as a dentist, and not until his early twenties did he take up music seriously. After the war - during which Rawsthorne served in the Army - he devoted the bulk of his time to composition. Rawsthorne was awarded the CBE in 1961, and was made an Honorary Doctor of Music by Liverpool, Essex, and Belfast Universities. He died in Cambridge on 24 July 1971. Edward Harper was born in in Taunton, Somerset. He studied at Christ Church, Oxford and later with Gordon Jacob at the Royal College of Music, London. For over forty years Edward Harper was on the staff of the Faculty of Music at Edinburgh University, where he was a Senior Lecturer. He was also Director of the New Music Group of Scotland which he founded in 1973, and he has been described as 'playing a crucial part in opening Scotland's ears to fresh musical experience'. Edward Harper died on 12 April 2009.