No 1: Time Yes he is Time
No 2: Concord Concord, Concord is here
No 3: Time and Concord From springs of bounty
No 4: Country girls Sweet flag and cuckoo flower
No 5: Rustics and fishermen From fen and meadow
No 6: Final dance of homage These tokens of our love receiving
The set of six Choral dances from ‘Gloriana’ for unaccompanied chorus was first performed by the BBC Midland Chorus in a broadcast on 7 March 1954; the set was later rearranged to include tenor solo and harp obbligato for a performance to mark the opening of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, in 1967. The dances occur in the first scene of the opera’s second act, which portrays a colourful masque at Norwich’s Guildhall attended by Queen Elizabeth I during a royal progress. Britten had intended this scene to combine vivid pageantry with a homage to Elizabethan song and dance, but later felt that it impeded the dramatic flow of the opera as a whole, and in some later productions the entire scene was cut. The sequence begins with the appearance of the demigod Time, ‘lusty and blithe’, who is followed by his wife Concord. Her song is set to music made up entirely of concords, a deliberate witticism on Britten’s part. After Time and Concord have danced together, country girls, rustics and fishermen join in the celebrations before the concluding ‘Dance of homage’ to the visiting sovereign.
from notes by Mervyn Cooke © 2001