First performed by Bedford Preparatory School, cond. Charles Martin, 14 June 2001, Bedford School, Bedford
Hats off to Henry
Cardinal Wolsey's Song
Thomas Cromwell's Song
Chorus of the Headless
Chorus of Doom and Gloom
Hats off to Edward
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Composed for Bedford Preparatory School in 2001, Heads off for Henry is a cantata charting the fates of the principal victims of Henry VIII's reign, following their impact on both him and his people as, from bright beginnings, a climate of fear descends over his kingdom. Mostly consisting of unison songs, there are also solos for Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, a Headsman and King Henry himself, and a narrating role (which can be split between several narrators) which tells the story of Henry's reign over musical interludes.
David Lawrence-March's lyrics also have a beneficial educational role, not only with extending vocabulary and improving diction, but also in familiarising performers with key names, dates and events from Henry VIII's reign. The work can be performed with a six-strong instrumental ensemble, piano or backing CD/tape and is highly suitable for use in the classroom as well as by children's choirs.