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The Rose Family was commissioned by Viva Voce of Auckland and composed in 1995. The theme of roses and some of the texts were chosen by Viva Voce's conductor, John Rosser.
The eight songs deal in a fairly light way with a variety of aspects of that most romantic of flowers, from love and happiness through to suffering, pain and death. Edmund Waller's Go, lovely rose is a characteristic idealisation of a young woman and is romantic in style. In Herrick's To the Rose, the rose is used to entrap a lover and force her to submit, and the music reflects this cruelty. Dorothy Parker suggests roses are all very well but she would have preferred a new car from her lover. The final song is an arrangement of James Oppenheim's suffragette song Bread and Roses, and recalls the the sweated labour of women from the past.
Commissioned by Viva Voce of Auckland
1. All Night by the Rose
2. The Sick Rose
3. You Love the Roses
4. Song ("Go Lovely Rose")
5. To the Rose
6. One Perfect Rose
7. The Rose Family
8. Bread and Roses
Blake, Eliot, Waller, Herrick, Parker, Frost and Oppenheim
21 Nov 1993: Performed by Maria Treadaway (sop), Viva Voce, John Rosser (cond) at the Auckland Town Hall