1. SONG OF THE GHOST ORCHID by Peter Lawson
      for mixed voice choir and piano (or organ)
      Goodmusic GM221

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      The Song of the Ghost Orchid is the forty-fifth to be written in a cycle of musical portraits of the forty-eight wild orchids of Great Britain and Ireland - for various instrumental, vocal and orchestral combinations.
      The Ghost Orchid, or Spurred Coralroot, Epipogium aphyllum, is Britain's rarest orchid, not in the sense that it has the fewest potential sites, but in the number of sightings seen. It has many times been proclaimed to be extinct, having not been seen for decades, only to confound the notion by popping up again. It has been found in two distinct areas, both in England, firstly in oak woods in Herefordshire and Shropshire, from 1854; secondly in beech woods in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, from 1923 onwards. Because of its long system of coral-like roots (stolons), stretching out for sometimes as many as a hundred yards, it can survive underground for long periods without throwing up a flower spike. Because of its complete lack of chlorophyll and leaves, it being parasitic on fungus in leaf-mould, it grows generally in dark woods, where nothing else will grow.
      The Song of the Ghost Orchid is the only orchid portrait to contain actual words. I considered the history of sightings to be so extraordinary, that I decided to write a poem, in Iambic Pentameter, with thirty four-line stanzas, chronicling the remarkable tale. I set it for mixed chorus with piano or organ accompaniment, though soloists from the choir have the lion's share of conveying the story. A colour-coding scheme of harmonies is employed throughout the orchid portraits and is used at times during this piece, which is in two parts, each ending with a choral number. Part One has eleven verses and deals with the westerly orchids near the Welsh border and Part Two has nineteen verses and deals with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire sites and sightings.
      In between the two parts is a substantial chorus, Red Faces, referring to some botanical authors' tendency to pronounce the plant extinct, only to be disproved. At the end of Part Two, there is a shorter, lighter choral movement, resembling a Morris Dance, Mum's the Word! The orchid's increasing popularity caused orchid hunters to trample through woods, potentially damaging the orchid's root system. Nowadays a culture of secrecy has tended to prevail! Peter Lawson
      Duration 17½ minutes

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      Peter Lawson - Song of the Ghost Orchid (Choir - Mixed voices (SATB))

      Catalogue Number: GM221      9790222305946      

      Price: £9.50

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