David Fawcett

See David’s submissions in the Member Composers repertoire resource.

Cantata: A sure refuge

The story of the Mayflower Pilgrims, told for our own time

Facing persecution by an intolerant regime in their homeland, a minority religious group face the terrible choice of abandoning their faith or leaving their homes behind. They decide to flee in secret, to seek refuge in another country where they may be free to practice their religion in peace. But they face a difficult and life-threatening journey to get there. Exploited by unscrupulous people-traffickers, robbed of all they have, set adrift on rough seas in unseaworthy boats, betrayed, captured and returned, only to try again, they eventually manage to cross the border sea and start with industry and perseverance to build their lives anew. But before long they are forced to flee again.

The year is 1620, and a community of non-conformist Christians from the East Midlands have spent the last 12 years in Holland, escaping religious persecution in James I’s England. But looming religious war with Catholic Spain threatens to rob them of their hard-won freedom. They make their way back to England, meeting others on the way to their eventual final embarkation from Plymouth on board the ship, Mayflower, with the hope of finding a land they can call their own, a sure refuge in the New World.

Commissioned with funding from Arts Council England as part of the Mayflower400 commemorations, A sure refuge is a substantial new cantata by David Fawcett telling the story of the Separatists, with a text based on contemporary accounts and the Book of Psalms.

Alternating narrative recitatives with choral settings of the Psalms with which the Separatists reflect upon their experiences, the cantata uses contrasting styles, from the lyrical to the dramatic, moving through the piece as a whole from conflict towards resolution. The choral material throughout is accessible, tuneful and comfortably within the technical range of most amateur choirs.

Exploring themes of persecution, alienation, exploitation and refuge, and drawing on the timeless Book of Psalms, A sure refuge is as relevant a reflection upon our own era as it is a historical account of the Mayflower Pilgrims of Jacobean England. It is a thought-provoking and moving work, which will engage both choirs and audiences, providing space to reflect upon their own response to contemporary events.

A sure refuge is set for Mezzo, Tenor and Baritone soloists, mixed choir, strings, piano, three horns and timpani. With 16 varied movements, in total it is 50 minutes long. It will receive its first performance by Gainsborough Choral Society in Lincolnshire in November 2021.

An introduction to A sure refuge, including a recording of its Overture, can be seen in this video: https://youtu.be/GhgKnVV1rnY

Videos of the remaining choral movements and further information, including a movement-by-movement description of the work, can be found on the composer’s website.

Sample pages from each of the choral movements and the Overture can be viewed here.

Vocal scores, full score and orchestral parts are available from the composer to buy or to hire, either option at very reasonable rates. Please contact David Fawcett to receive a without-prejudice quote tailored to your own specific requirements.

View sample pages from A sure refuge