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Music Publishers - Goodmusic, Roberton Publications & Leslie Music Supply

01684 773883

Peter Lawson
for piano
Goodmusic GM238

Catalogue Number: GM238

ISMN: 9790222307568

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Song of the Lady's Slipper Orchid image
The Lady's Slipper Orchid, Cypripedium calceolus, is immediately recognisable by its large, yellow lip, resembling a slipper. It attracts small burrowing bees, who fall into it. The slipper's walls are impossibly slippery but have hairs which act as footholds to guide the insect up a narrow passage where it rubs up against a mass of sticky pollen. It leaves and, exhausted, tends to land on a nearby flower. The process is repeated and this time the sticky pollen from the first flower pollinates the second flower.
This orchid's exotic beauty caused it to be picked, dug up, hunted for and eventually declared extinct in Britain in 1917. However, in the 1930s a solitary plant was found in Yorkshire, which was kept secret but had a warden on 24-hour guard, sleeping in a tent by it, with a trip-wire around it to stop orchid collectors from digging it up. This single plant remains to this day, but in the 1990s scientists at Kew Gardens started a programme of producing seedlings from it by cross-pollinating it with a plant in cultivation that had been taken from the wild. After a worrying start, where only four out of a hundred such plants actually flowered, nowadays there are many successfully flowering plants in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire and County Durham.
The Song of the Lady's Slipper Orchid is in four continuous movements. There is also an orchestrated version with optional narrator The Lady's Slipper Orchid.
The first movement, A little Pollination Subterfuge, refers to the trick the orchid plays on the poor insect as described above.
The second movement, Legend of the Lady's Slipper Orchid, describes Venus, the Goddess of Beauty and Love, walking through a wood one day, when she heard thunder. She found herself running for shelter, only to find she had lost one of her golden slippers. The next day, a shepherdess was walking through the wood when she espied the slipper and ran to it, but in front of her very eyes, it turned into a flower, now known as Lady's Slipper Orchid.
The third movement, A Drastic Decline in Population, describes the orchid's demise and the fourth movement, The Programme of Reintroduction, describes the scientists’ endeavours in a fugue, which takes unexpected twists as the programme temporarily went wrong, only to end triumphantly. Peter Lawson
Duration 7½ minutes

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