The Anvil

A year on from 200th Anniversary of Peterloo, listen to the world premiere recording of The Anvil from Manchester International Festival 2019.

16 August 2020

PRiSM is delighted to present the world premiere recording of The Anvil first broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 16th August 2019, the 200th Anniversary of Peterloo. Bringing together for the first time composer Emily Howard and poet Michael Symmons Roberts, The Anvil was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and Manchester International Festival, and first performed by Kate Royal (soprano), Christopher Purves (baritone), BBC Philharmonic, BBC Singers, Hallé Choir, Hallé Youth Choir and Hallé Ancoats Community Choir conducted by Ben Gernon at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 7th July 2019.


In parallel, Dublin’s immersive theatre group ANU created and performed site-specific theatre work across the city as part of MIF19, a series of contemporary responses to the issues that sparked the Peterloo protests and the deaths that resulted.

Look out for an in-depth PRiSM Blog feature about the creative and collaborative processes involved in making The Anvil.

… [Howard’s] instrumental panache, driven by beavering strings, constantly slashed by hard percussion, received its most powerful showcase in a section simulating the cavalry slaughter (15 killed, more than 600 injured), where the chorus’s words, perhaps by design, became swallowed up in the feverish notes. Elsewhere, Howard simplified textures, allowing hymn cadences into the mix, or spotlighting Christopher Purves’s thrusting baritone. When he sang the word “servitude” you could feel the shackles. The Times

For more reviews and details of the score, see here.