St Botolph Without Aldgate, photo: DAVID ILIFF

When David took on the role of Musical Director of Myriad he set out to provide innovative programmes with a theme running through them. The inspiration for the latest concert – Poets Alive! – came from seeing the plaque to Philip Larkin in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey. This led him to develop a concert with music set to texts by well-known poets, whilst collaborating with living poet Dave Neita and contemporary composer Deborah Pritchard.

Dave Neita is a lawyer, public speaker and published poet, addressing social issues through his poetry. Deborah Pritchard is a synaesthetic composer, seeing music as colours or shapes, which adds to the sensory experience of all those who listen to her compositions.

The concert opened with two settings by Parry and Prichard of the same text – ‘My Soul there is a Country’ by Henry Vaughan. Finzi’s bucolic Seven Partsongs, set to poems by Robert Bridges followed and Vaughan Williams’ rarely performed setting of Christina Rossetti’s poem ‘Rest’ concluded the first part of the evening. Each musical setting was segued by poetry readings by Dave Neita.

The second half opened delicately with Stanford’s beautiful ‘The Blue Bird’, followed by Taverner’s ‘The Lamb’. Their serenity, simplicity and stillness contrasted with the tonal complexity and rhythmic style of Britten’s ‘Five Flower Songs’ which were set as a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary present for some botanist friends.

Again, poetry by Dave Neita punctuated each section of the second part and in one instance his poetry was accompanied by Deborah Pritchard on the double bass, adding richness and interest to the performance.

The evening concluded with ‘Alight’, a composition commissioned by Myriad especially for the concert. It was an exciting collaboration of words by Dave Neita set to music by Deborah Prichard, and the choir was delighted to premiere the work with both of them present.

Cinzia Greaves (Alto)

‘Poets Alive’ Concert Report

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