I am hoping that our new album of songs inspired by our balcony concerts will be ready before the end of December. In the meantime, for those of you new to my blog I just wanted to take this opportunity to share the background of our last album “Down The Rabbit Hole” which you can listen to here:
All of the songs are classical English Art Songs and the spoken sections are prose and a monologue from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. It’s quite bonkers and a bit ‘off the wall’ but I didn’t want to lose it, so we recorded it live last year. ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll is the epitome of nonsense literature and fills our heads with imagination.
The album is my reimagining of adventurous Alice exploring ‘down the rabbit hole’. Using the vast depth of English song repertoire full of wonderfully illustrative poetry and Lewis Carroll’s prose to rework the tale of one glorious golden afternoon’s adventure, where everything is imagined as the only weapon in the war against reality –with a philosophy of life to finish my program when a girl goes through that awkward stage of transition, imagined by her sister at the end of the book, and how she hoped Alice would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood. If you want to know more about what happened in Wonderland you will need to read the wonderful book. I tried to tailor the songs to express my ideas and emotions about the start and end of Alice’s Adventure and in the words of the King of Heart’s ‘Begin at the beginning…and go on till you come to the end: then stop’.
1. Sweet Chance That Led My Steps Abroad
‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and having nothing to do: when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her’. I selected Michael Head’s ‘Sweet Chance That Led My Steps Abroad’, using the poetry ‘A Great Time’ by W.H. Davies to create the scene.
2. A Piper
‘Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge’. I imagined the White Rabbit was rather like the Pied Piper leading Alice astray so follows ‘A Piper’ also by Michael Head from O’Sullivan poetry. It’s one of my favourite English songs.
3. Do Not Go My Love
“Why, how impolite of him. I asked him a civil question, and he pretended not to hear me. That’s not at all nice. I say, Mr. White Rabbit, where are you going? Hmmm. He won’t answer me and I do so want to know what he is late for, I wonder if I might follow him. Why not? There’s no rule that I mayn’t go where I please. I– I will follow him. Wait for me, Mr White Rabbit. I’m coming, too.”
‘Do Not Go My Love’ without asking my leave by Hageman with text by Tagore. This is an English song I’ve sung for a couple of years and was included to represent the dreamlike fall into the unknown.
‘I wonder how many miles I’ve fallen by this time? I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth… I wonder if I will fall right through the earth! How funny that would be. Oh, I think I see the bottom. Yes, I’m sure I see the bottom. I shall hit the bottom, hit it very hard and oh how it will hurt!’
5. Let the Florid Music Praise
“At this moment, Five, who had been anxiously looking across the garden, called out “The Queen! The Queen!”, and the three gardeners instantly threw themselves flat upon their faces. There was a sound of many footsteps, and Alice looked round, eager to see the Queen…… “And who are these?” said the Queen, pointing to the three gardeners who were lying round the rose-tree; … How should I know? Said Alice, surprised at her own courage. It’s no business of mine.” The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed “Off with her head! Off___”
Only one song could fit this moment of chaos at the end of the day ‘Let the Florid Music Praise’ by Benjamin Britten with the words of WH Auden. I chose this dark humourous song because it’s so full of energy and excitement I think it fits that moment of panic, with a bold opening flutes and trumpets, imperial standards flying, hot sun raising temperatures. The unloved Queen of Hearts with too much power.
The three final songs were chosen from works by Roger Quilter (1877-1953).
6. Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal
“Wake up, Alice Dear! said her sister…why, what a long and lovely sleep you’ve had’. ‘Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal’ now the white. The beautiful sonnet poetry of this song is by Lord Tennyson. Tennyson discloses in this poem the stillness of the twilight, beautiful rest and stillness of sleep. That time in sleep opens your heart and mind to new adventures with an emphasis on what you can see.
7. Dream Valley
“Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!” said Alice. And she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange adventures’. Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been. Memory, hither come, begins Dream Valley’ with words by Blake . Lewis Carroll’s adventures included: happy and sad tales with lots of morals.
8. Love’s Philosophy
Lastly, her sister sat still just as she left her… till she too began dreaming after a fashion:
‘As Alice remembered her dream, her sister, …. pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman… ‘. ‘Loves Philosophy’ with poetry by Shelley that describes how different parts of nature interact and depend upon one another and is a classic story of unrequited love using natural imagery.
This final picture was created by Pascal Barnier who used our photographs to imaginatively create the artwork that now hangs on my Mum’s office wall and is used on my ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ album cover. You can see more of his work on his website by following the link.
45 thoughts on “Back Down The Rabbit Hole”
Wow! Love this!!
Thank you Sheila, I have a couple of different programs of song for the section of adventures underground to make an hour long program, I’m hoping to record it in the New Year.
Love the photos! And now we can see them at a decent size, too. You spoil us, Charlotte
Thanks Martin, I updated the photos to use on Instagram whilst I had time this week I’m really happy you liked them. It was a fun day at the Botanic Gardens.
Absolutely brilliant, loved this Charlotte.
Amazing photos, and tale from beginning to the end..xx
Thank you, that makes me happy 😃. I’ve refreshed a few of the photos to Instagram them this week, I hope it helped you to enjoy remembering the tale.
Best wishes always,
Great work Charlotte, congrats !!!!
And nice mémories !
Thanks for sare my link work my friend !! Looking forward to new joint projects , the best for you
Merci Pascal, I’m happy to refresh your memories and share your link.
‘Watch this space’ as they say in England.
Stunning idea, dear Charlotte! Your cup of tea! Good luck! 😁😋😊☕🍰
Thank you Maria, Earl Grey of course ☕️🍰 and a piece of cake. I hope you have a lovely week ahead.
Only Earl Grey, my dear Charlotte! Same to you! Looking forward to new design of your site! See my innovative Christmas tress in Twitter. 😁😁😁
Excellent, Charlotte. best wishes to you ad George.
Thank you John, with the schools closing now for music lessons we are going to try to use the extra time productively.
Wonderful post. You make a perfect Alice.
Thank you Timothy, I absolutely loved dressing-up as Alice, the children approached us for photographs in the botanic gardens such a lot of fun.
Charlotte you are absolutely rockin’ that Alice look, I just love it. Where did you get the outfit or made for you? You should be be cast in a musical version of Alice is Opera Land. Great post as ever.
I was living in Glasgow and there is a fabulous vintage clothes shop called Mr Ben Retro Clothing’ at the bottom of the City, the lady that runs it didn’t have anything quite suitable during my first visit but took my measurements and found the perfect dress. We hired George’s Mad Hatter outfit but I wished we’d bought one from the Vintage shop now.
Amazing, you both fantastic. Loving your work. 👍
Such a bold creative project. And you do look like the perfect Alice!
Thank you John, I grew up near Delamere in Cheshire which is where Lewis Carrol is from, I loved the books and the nonsense rhymes and I came second in a Talent Show at school with the monologue so that inspired me.
I haven’t seen Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” in such a long time; I only vaguely remember how the Story goes. Yesterday, I finally saw the Live Action film of “Mulan” that I had planned to see in the theater in March. But the lockdown happened and the movie was never released into theaters. 🙁 It was a great film 🙂 but my TV isn’t as big as the one in the theater. 🙁 Where did you find a light blue that looks so similar to the one in the film?
I love Mulan both the cartoon version and the live film version. The dress was from a shop in Glasgow called Mr Ben Retro Clothing and the lady that owns the shop found it for me at a very reasonable price. We hired George’s suit from Scottish Opera. Had an absolute ball in the Botanic Gardens and my parents took the photos.
Very nice. As for FaceTime, my Schedule is more open Friday afternoon thru Sunday evening. I am six hours behind your time in London. 🙂
You make a cute Alice.
Thank you Jovina. One of my favourite characters from a much loved book.
So sweet ❤️ good morning my dear
Good morning Amritpal enjoy your week ahead.
Love this post Charlotte, and I can’t wait for your new CD to come out. 🥰😘
We were hoping ‘Songs From Our Balcony’ would be ready by this weekend but the distributor is very busy and told us there could be delays. Can you believe it has been over three years since we released this, the time has flown.
Super creative great stuff!
Thank you, we had real fun putting it together.
Congrats. Downloaded album from iTunes.
Thank you Fraser we appreciate it, I hope that you enjoy it and it makes you smile.
I don’t need to say anything – you two have such talented and creative minds – I’m honored to see greatness in action!!
Thank you GP, we’ve been working on some new songs for the centre section ‘underground’ so I was refreshing my memory and took the opportunity to update the photographs for Instagram.
Shivers and giggles… Such fun, you being Alice. I look so forward to the new recording. 🙂
Oh, Charlotte, what a work of ART! A work of Beauty! Such a wonderful post.
Fun and creative art works – just reminds me of cartoon mixed with real people movies.
Nothing a pure and apt dose of Evanescence’s “lithium” couldn’t cure in that first picture.
So please, by all means avoid that song – hehe
What a wonderful post. So colourful and imaginative.
How wonderful, Charlotte! Love the photos and I’m repeating others’ words, but you do make the perfect Alice! xo
A beautifully creative album, Charlotte. and George! You are the perfect Alice, Charlotte, and I think you will always maintain that simple loving heart through the years. May you be forever young!
This is absolutely amazing.