Seven Ages of Man
and other pieces performed on
Wednesday 27th July 2016 at St John's Wood Church, London.
as part of

Kesselman Music Live

Soloists: Alexandra McPhee, Teressa Edwards, Rebecca Anstey, Angus McPhee, Nick Allen, George Tamisai and Philip Barnett
Conductor: Michael Cayton
Choirs: members of Tonic Choir, Total Praise UK Singers, and the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers of Zimbabwe
Orchestra: The Wallace Ensemble

Click for details of how your choral society can perform Zimbabwe Suite or Seven Ages of Man.

A few words from concert promoter, Russ McAnulla
I became a lover of sub Saharan Africa when I spent many happy years there in the late 70's and early 80's, bringing up my children through their formative years in the unrivalled sunshine and free way of life that only that area of the world seems to supply. In those days I was not a singer, but a bell-ringer by hobby, ringing at Harare Cathedral. One of my fellow ringers in those days recently mentioned in an email that she had become involved with a very good local choir in Harare, where she still lives. This triggered a desire to tell people about the wonders of Zimbabwe using words and music. I set to work in an attempt to paint pictures of Zimbabwe, using words. When this was complete, I approached Bryan, who composed some stunning music to bring these mundane words to wonderful life.

I first encountered Bryan's music when I sang in the first performance of his "Voices which must be heard". I was hooked from the first rehearsal! I subsequently joined the "Tonic Extra" choir, which premiered another of his works; "The Seven Ages of Man" last year. After collaborating with Bryan to produce the "Zimbabwe Suite", initially for a Harare based choir, I decided that it would be great fun to perform it in the UK too. The conductor Michael Cayton invited us to use the wonderful St John's Wood church as a venue. The church has wonderful acoustics, and is large enough to accommodate an orchestra as well as a choir. I thought that would be a great opportunity to showcase a whole concert of Bryan's work, with an orchestral accompaniment. So we brought together two choirs along with a great orchestra, soloists and conductor, for a night to truly remember.
Russ McAnulla

The Zimbabwe Suite
(Kesselman/McAnulla) — 25 minutes (first UK performance)
​Written in 2015, this new piece was first performed in Harare during May 2016. The work is in five movements, each describing a different element of the Zimbabwe landscape and life. Two of these sections have been translated into Shona and Ndebele, the two main local languages used in Zimbabwe in addition to the "official" language of English. The Zimbabwe Suite was given its world premiere in Harare by the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers accompanied by two pianos. The London performance was with orchestra as originally conceived.

The work is in five sections, each describing a different element of the Zimbabwe landscape and life.
1..."Eastern highlands" A majestic mountain range rising steeply from the central African plateau. Green and lush.
2..."Our Africa" The bustling villages and vibrant cities that make all visitors fall in love with Zimbabwe.
3..."Great Zimbabwe" The enigmatic ancient ruins of a city civilisation in the South of Zimbabwe.
4..."Safari walks" A description of a few of the many wonderful wild animals that you can encounter on the walking safaris available in the safari camps, the wildest of them in the North of the country.
5..."Victoria Falls" One of the most famous falls in the world, situated on the great Zambezi river, in the West of Zimbabwe.
Two of these pieces have been translated into Shona and Ndebele, the two main local languages used in Zimbabwe in addition to the "official" language of English.


Seven Ages of Man (Kesselman/Barnett) — 35 minutes
For choir and orchestra
Music: Bryan Kesselman Words: Philip Barnett
The inspiration for this choral work was the speech ‘All the world's a stage’ from Shakespeare's As You Like It (Act 2, Scene 7). The text re-imagines each of the Seven Ages and the music sets the new text in various styles.
First performed in 2015.


Voices That Should Be Heard (Excerpts)
Commissioned by the Old Gaytonians Association in 2011 for the Centenary of Harrow County School, Voices That Should Be Heard is a cantata for choir, soloists and orchestra.
Excerpt 1: Abou Ben Adhem (words by Leigh Hunt 1784-1859)
Excerpt 2: Shifting Sands (words by Philip Barnett) This piece was also performed for her Majesty the Queen when she visited Harrow in 2012.


Dreyfus, Prisoner of Devil's Island
Premiered in 1998 at St Giles, Cripplegate, London, this major piece of music theatre tells the story of the infamous Dreyfus affair which rocked France in the 1890s. Two songs sung by Dreyfus himself:
1. Day After Day, Dreyfus is on board ship, bound for Devil's Island where he was incarcerated.
2. What is this Justice? On Devil's Island, Dreyfus rails against injustice and the forced separation from his wife. Sung by Philip Barnett


The Time Traveller (words by Philip Barnett)
A one act comic opera written in 2011 as a tribute to those great masters of comic opera, Sir William Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan. To date there have been 12 performances with a total audience exceeding 1,000.
Excerpt: The DNA Trio


Reactions from audience and performers
We very much enjoyed the Zimbabwe concert. It was melodic, exciting and deeply moving.

We both thought that last night was "better than terrific". It was a wonderful piece of musical theatre. The Zimbabwe Suite's music and words were truly powerful and performed so well by a powerful choir. To hear the full orchestration for "Seven Ages" was amazing.

I really enjoyed the concert last night. The Zimbabwe suite was an amazing orchestral explosion of music. Very creative. And must have taken quite a considerable time to complete. Absolutely wonderful.

What an amazing evening — we enjoyed the whole concert, especially the Zimbabwe Suite. How original and uplifting. Thanks for a memorable event.

Your concert at St Johns Wood made for a superb evening.

A quickie to say how much I enjoyed listening to the atmospheric Zimbabwe Suite.

I just wanted to say how much my daughter and I enjoyed your concert last Wednesday. Hearing the Seven Ages of Man for the first time was great, but the highlight was the Zimbabwe Suite — simply superb.

I would like to say how much I enjoyed singing and listening to your music. It does not fit into any of the genres I have sung to date, but is fresh and uplifting.

I loved the music and it was great to be involved!

It was a great event to be a part of, and I hope for you and the choirs that there might be more like it. Well done, and thank you for the music!


Tickets were £15 which included a donation of £3 to the charity ZANE which enables donors to help forgotten people in Zimbabwe and seeks to relieve invisible suffering.