Simon Austin composer

Works   ❯  Choral   ❯  The Cry of the Unicorn

The Cry of the Unicorn

or Augustine in Albion

Secular Cantata for SATB solos, Ad Lib flute, strings | 1998. Text by Nick Nye
first performance The Sussex Cantorum, Worth Abbey Church
Christine Armstrong; Jean Bentley; John Crossman; Andy Jacques; Paul Cheneour, flute; East Grinstead Chamber Orchestra / Martin Sonneveld

1. The Mission: Easy to turn back, where there's no track...
2. The Encounter: Sighted? Landed, my Lord King.. in Thanet?.. How many?
3. The Conflict: My Lord King... Let them come, the mount lies open We must not delay...
4. The Aftermath: Seven long years, the work barely begun. And look, my life has gone Like a cobweb on the wind...

The Cry of the Unicorn covers the mission given to St Augustine to convert the pagan Albion to Christianity. The opening may have, as on first performance, a flute improvisation around the composer?s first prompt leading to the Mission of Augustine and his monks as they unwillingly traverse hostile countryside heading towards Albion.

Arriving in Thanet they are greeted as benign visitors but their request, in The Encounter, to see the King, Ethelbert of Kent, is granted only if they meet outside. This takes place at a ritual burial ceremony which is carried out to appease Nerthus, the Earth Mother. Augustine stops the ceremony, suggesting that there are other ways to worship without the human sacrifice. The King agrees to talk and so the conversion of Albion to Christianity begins. In The Aftermath, Augustine sees his life?s work beginning to ebb away, a reflection on how long it took for his followers to truly establish new religious practice in the British isles. Between sections, there may be flute improvise links. St Augustine is sung by a solo tenor, the King by a baritone/bass and there are small parts for the Queen and a slave. The orchestra is of strings only.