Heads off for Henry


Children’s Cantata to a libretto by David Lawrence-March

Duration: 45 minutes

Children’s choir, soloists and narrator; ensemble (cl, vn, vc, harp, pno, perc.) or solo piano or piano duet or CD/tape

First performed by Bedford Preparatory School, cond. Charles Martin, 14 June 2001, Bedford School, Bedford

Listen to extracts of Heads off for Henry by Alan Charlton, performed by the Bedford Preparatory School, conducted by Charles Martin:

Hatts off to Henry

Cardinal Wolsey’s Song

Thomas Cromwell’s Song

Chorus of the Headless

Chorus of Doom and Gloom

Hatts off to Edward

Programme Note

Composed for Bedford Preparatory School in 2001, Heads off for Henry is a cantata charting the fates of the principal victims of Henry VIII’s reign, following their impact on both him and his people as, from bright beginnings, a climate of fear descends over his kingdom. Mostly consisting of unison songs, there are also solos for Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, a Headsman and King Henry himself, and a narrating role (which can be split between several narrators) which tells the story of Henry’s reign over musical interludes. 

David Lawrence-March’s lyrics also have a beneficial educational role, not only with extending vocabulary and improving diction, but also in familiarising performers with key names, dates and events from Henry VIII’s reign. The work can be performed with a six-strong instrumental ensemble, piano or backing CD/tape and is highly suitable for use in the classroom as well as by children’s choirs.

Coronation Dance; Hats off to Henry; Interlude I; Cardinal Wolsey’s Song; Interlude II; Thomas Cromwell’s Song; Interlude III; Chorus of the Headless; Interlude IV; Chorus of Doom and Gloom; Interlude V; King Henry’s Song; Heads off for Henry; Interlude VI; Hats off to Edward.