Jul 24 2022

Stroud Green Festival “The Somerville Connexion”

7.30pm 24th July 2022
Stroud Green Festival
Holy Trinity Gardens, Granville Road, London, N4 4EL

Mary Somerville. Lithograph after J. Phillips. Image Courtesy of Wellcome Library, London.

A live performance of vocal music
illuminating the hidden lives of exceptional women
whose worlds revolved around the Queen of the Sciences
Astronomer & Mathematician
Mary Somerville (1780-1872)

Stroud Green Festival
7.30pm 24th July 2022
Holy Trinity Gardens, Granville Road, London, N4 4EL

Join us for a delightful hour of music by women composers spanning three centuries, and some extraordinary tales of brilliant Victorian women scientists, novelists, artists, philosophers and musicians.

Music by 19th century composers, who were close to Mary Somerville’s circle, reveals Italianate arias and Scottish Melodies by Isabella Scott Gibson, devotional verses by Eliza Flower and an astute parlour song, which appears to echo Somerville’s early life, by one of her dearest friends, Lady Dufferin.
One of her mathematics students, Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852), became a figurehead for generations of women developing computer technology up to the present day, and inspired composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad to write a solo work using her words. There are further settings of the words of several of the protagonists by composers  Lynne Plowman (Mary Somerville) and Frances M Lynch (astronomer, Caroline Herschel). There are particularly beautiful offerings too from Nicola Lefanu and Marie Dare.

Extracts above from works by Joanna Baillie/Ludwig van Beethove, Frances M Lynch and Lady Dufferin


Scroll down for the complete programme

Images Creative Commons except Clara Novello by Edward Petre Novello, oil on canvas 1833, NPG 5685, © National Portrait Gallery London

Mary Somerville (1780-1872)

In 1834 a book called “On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences” exploded onto the cultural stage of Western Europe.  For the first time, the author, Mary Somerville described the interdependence of astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology and maths, and explained the latest scientific thinking of the day in language directed to her “country-women”.

Somerville’s curiosity and disciplined work reflect her childhood pursuits – looking into every nook and cranny of the landscape around her Fife home, collecting fossils & shells, learning Euclid by heart, painting and practising the piano for hours.
Kind, gentle and unassuming, Somerville was not a lone woman adrift in a sea of male expertise. Like ripples spreading out from the centre, she influenced ever-widening circles of talented yet unsung women including scientists, novelists, artists, philosophers and musicians.

Stroud Green Festival
7.30pm 24th July 2022
Holy Trinity Gardens, Granville Road, London, N4 4EL

Music Programme:

  • Marie Dare (1902 – 1976) The Four Maries for 4 female voices; Words traditional
  • Isobel Dunlop (1901 – 1975) The Sea Shell for soprano & piano; Words by William Soutar (1898 – 1943)
  • Isabella Scott Gibson (1786–1838) Dark Lochnagar for solo voice; Words by Lord Byron (1788 – 1824)
  • Cheryl Frances-Hoad Something More Than Mortal for solo mezzo; Words by mathematician, Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852)
  • Nicola Lefanu I See The Moon from Rory’s Rounds 1984 for acapella voices; Words traditional
  • Frances M Lynch fragments from Epitaph for a Comet Hunter for solo voice; Words by astronomer Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848)
  • William Herschel (1738 – 1822)A Catch for acapella voices
  • Eliza Flower (1803 – 1846) Rebecca’s Hymn from Musical Illustrations of the Waverly Novels for tenor & piano; Words by Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) from Ivanhoe 
  • Helen Blackwood, Lady Dufferin (1807 – 1867) The Charming Woman for mezzo, baritone & piano
  • Frances M Lynch Florence Nightingale Broadside Ballad for solo baritone; Words traditional
  • Lynne Plowman Seven Dark Lines for soprano & baritone; Words by Mary Somerville 
  • Traditional Irish Air arranged by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827) Sweet Power of Song for tenor, baritone, piano, violin & cello; Words by Joanna Baillie (1762 – 1851)
  • Jane Bianchi (1776 – 1858) Winter’s Beautiful Rose for soprano & piano; Words by Amelia Opie (1769 – 1853)
  • Frances M Lynch Trowelblazers for solo & recorded voices; including Annie Laurie by Alicia Spottiswoode, Lady John Scott (1810 – 1900)


Performed by electric voice theatre:-

Frances M Lynch – Soprano, Artistic Director
Laurence Panter – Tenor
Gwion Thomas – Baritone
Lauren Lister – BSL interpreter
Herbie Clarke – Production Manager



“Voices for the Future”  seeks to discover, honour, and promote female voices past and present and to inspire, guide and build diverse VOICES FOR THE FUTURE.

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