Roger Marsh and York Spring Festival of New Music!

It’s always exciting when the Spring Festival programme is announced, and this year’s offering looks brilliant.  Of course, I may be a bit biased – two pieces of mine, including a premiere, and a big new piece (Swimming between shores) by two of my PhD students, Morag Galloway and Merit Ariane Stephanos.  And of course visits from two brilliantly successful ex-students, Anna Meredith and Stef Conner.   I can’t wait for it all to begin.

My new piece is for soprano and marimba, and I offered to write it for Zoe and Ana when they told me they were forming the duo PercuSSing.   I already had a short piece (Lullaby) for the combination, and thought this would be a good chance to create a little set of pieces, including that one.  So far there are three: Lullaby, A Flower for my Daughter and Walking Away.  The common theme here is children.  Walking Away is the title of a poem I found in a book of work by local (East Yorkshire) poets.  I liked this one because it’s quite dramatic but in a quiet understated way: two children walking out towards the sea hand in hand, watched by their mother as they go perhaps a little too far out for comfort.    I managed to contact the poet, Norah Hanson, who turns out to be in her seventies and living in Hull.  Fortunately she was very happy with the idea of a musical setting of her poem, which she published many years ago.  But in fact I have not ‘set’ the poem.  It’s so perfect as a little monologue that I felt singing it would only detract from its impact.  Instead I have set a musical tapestry around it; the marimba plays ebbing and flowing waves of harmony which allow the drama of the poem to remain unspoiled.

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