Time's Arrow: the music of the Fletchers

On Tuesday, 18 May 2021, a number of Fletchers gathered virtually to listen to distinguished pianist, composer and academic David Owen Norris. Taking as his theme ‘”Time’s Arrow”, David skilfully interwove the concept of the asymmetry of time (which outside the realms of science fiction sadly only moves in one direction) with examples of bows and arrows in music, ranging from Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s ‘Song of Hiawatha’ to Florence Aylward’s setting of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘Song of the Bow’.

The core of his excellent presentation, richly peppered with musical examples, was, however, provided by a historic set of four songs written in 1818 by former Fletchers’ warden Samuel Arnott for use at the Company’s quarterly dinners, and to be found in our archives at the Guildhall Library. Set to familiar tunes (‘The Cobler’, ‘The Roast Beef of Old England’ and ‘Rule Britannia’), the songs had been specially recorded for us by tenor Mark Wilde, and the audience was invited to join in the choruses. Although the vicissitudes of the time-delay created by Zoom meant that microphones sadly had to remain muted, visual evidence suggested that Fletchers did so with considerable gusto!

At the conclusion of his presentation, David himself led the toast to the Company; the Master, Professor Anne Curry, responded, and offered the vote of thanks.

In the light of the evident enjoyment so many of us derived from Arnott’s songs, it seems likely that they will not be allowed to disappear into obscurity again, and is to be hoped that once we can gather again in person, our hall will after 200 years once again ring with his words  

‘Long may Fletchers each social comfort share,

By Fortune’s smiles secur’d from care!’

Last modified on Monday, 07 June 2021 09:46