Friday 30 November 2018

In 1947 Wilfred Heaton enrolled at the Sheffield Educational Settlement for a course in the history of European art under the auspices of the Workers' Educaiton Association. The course was run by the Settlement's warden Arnold Freeman, who ran the itaccording to the principles espoused by the Austrian philospher Rudolf Steiner. Wilfred became closely involved with the settlement and also the Steiner's Spiritual Science, which governed the course of the rest of his life. 

Freeman produced plays each year at the Settlement's Little Theatre. Between 1949 and 1952 Wilfred provided the music for a number of them. The Christmas production in 1949 was WB Yeats' play King's Threshold, for which Wilfred provided a  folk-like melody - a single line for one of the characters to sing.  

It's a simple tune, eminently singable and, i think, eminently suitable as a seasonal carol; so, I offer this little arrangement as a centenary gift for Wilfred, whose music I have admired since childhood and have been honoured and privileged to work on since since he died in 2000. I have harmonised Wilfred's tune imagining it sung by carolers in the pubs around Sheffield, who still sing this tradtional carol telling the story of the Shepherds' visit to the infant Jesus.

As Wilfred's manuscript is lodged in the University Library at Sheffield - part of the Settlement's archive - this premiere performance sung by the students of the University's Chamber Choir on 28 November could not be more appropriate. My thanks to them for agreeing to perform it in their end of term concert. 

My unbounded.gratitiude also goes to son-in-law Bryan Stobart and the Heaton family for invliting me to fulfil to the best of my ability Wilfred's wishes for his musical legacy. It has been an honour.  

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