John Ireland’s “The Hills”: Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Choir

The English composer, John Ireland (1879-1962), was a mystic and an introvert. He found spiritual significance in ancient pagan sites which dot the “green and pleasant” countryside of his native land. Throughout his life, he was drawn back to the Channel Islands, the archipelago off the rugged Normandy coast.

An a cappella choral setting of a poem by James Kirkup, The Hills is an ode to the timeless majesty of the English countryside. It was Ireland’s contribution to A Garland for the Queen, a collection of choral works by ten British composers, using the words of living poets. Commissioned for the June, 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the project was inspired by The Triumphs Of Oriana, a book of English madrigals published in 1601 to honor the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

This performance features conductor Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé Choir:

How calm, how constant are the hills!
How green and white and golden in
The summer light! Their lakes, their leaping wells Are bright with flower, leaf, and rain,
And their profounder rivers run
From rocks that are the altars of the sun.
How calm, how constant are the hills!
Our time’s dark gale of ice and fire
Thunders around them, but removes them never. No tempest overthrows their strong humility. They are both god and temple, and their stones Are holy, the earth’s enduring thrones.

-James Kirkup


  • Ireland: The Hills, Sir Mark Elder, Hallé Choir

Featured Image: the Yorkshire Dales, photographer unknown 

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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