Almost a century before Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams, one of the pioneers in the collecting of folk songs was John Bell, whose findings in the early 1800s included a memorable tune from Northumberland that was eventually published in Northumbrian Minstrelsy
in 1882. It almost certainly began life as an instrumental melody – it is often heard to this day as a solo on the Northumbrian pipes – but the title Bonny at Morn
is taken from the words which describe a rather laid-back family life (‘Thoo’s ower-lang in thy bed, Bonnie at morn’) in a rural Northumbrian setting. I have to say that these words had very little influence on me when arranging this evocative melody which, when separated from the words, creates for me the image of a gentle sunrise on the beautiful Northumbrian coast. Once again, the bassoon’s lyrical sound seems to be the perfect voice for such an expressive, timeless melody.
from notes by Laurence Perkins © 2004