‘Wonderful’ Westmorland premiere in Cumbria

First published in What's on

A local legend transposed into a dynamic overture receives its premiere next month.

The legend of Richard de Gilpin and the Wild Boar has been put to music by Carlisle composer Ivor Hodgson after being commissioned by the Westmorland Orchestra.

The ‘wonderful’ Westmorland gives the piece its world premiere on Saturday, March 10 (7.30pm) at the Westmorland Hall, Lakes Leisure Kendal.

Although not widely known, the medieval tale goes back to the reign of King John, when the country surrounding Kendal was terrorised by a particularly ferocious and savage wild boar.

Stories of the monster's ferocity were circulated far and wide, and pilgrims prayed at the Holy Cross before embarking upon the perilous journey through the area.

Sir Richard de Gilpin is reliably credited with hunting down and slaying the beast. He apparently tracked it through the forest, and after a dramatic fight he slew the animal on the spot of the Wild Boar Inn, at Crook, on the banks of the little stream, known ever since as the Gilpin. After these brave exploits Richard de Gilpin changed his family crest to include a black boar on a gold background.

As a reward he was given the lordship of the manor of Kentmere by the Baron of Kendal and the event was apparently immortalised in a song known as the Minstrels of Winandermere.

Composer Ivor - who also plays double bass in the BBC Philharmonic orchestra - said when he was asked to write the new work he thought it was a super story and a fabulous starting point for his piece.

He explained: “For this fantasy overture I see the wild boar as the superior being, pursued by a rather simple and excitable nobleman followed by a band of heavily armed, but not so brave, men.” Westmorland Orchestra stalwart, violinist Vivien Wrack, said the music was approachable and full of humour, and the orchestra was enjoying rehearsing it.

After the wild boar’s musical demise, the orchestra - conducted by Richard Howarth - will be joined by award-winning pianist Christopher Guild as soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no 1.

And after the interval the Westmorland concert concludes with Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, a massive and impressive work.

As usual, the Westmorland will be led by the highly regarded John Upson.

Tickets available from Saturday at Lakes Leisure Kendal’s box office, by telephone on 01539-729702 or at the door.

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