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These songs were commissioned by poet Diana Neutze, for performance in her home, in Christchurch. The composer chose the seven texts to set in consultation with Diana, with reference to four volumes of her poetry. The choice of voice and instrumentation was, likewise, made in a collaborative fashion. The character of the songs is inspired by the poems, their ideas, images and sounds, and also from conversations between composer and poet. Diana suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years and the themes of life and death, and coping with suffering are significant in the song cycle. However, Nature also plays an important role in this work, with frequent references to the garden, birds and the elements. The whole cycle is also informed by the quotation in the last song, from Bach’s Chaconne in D minor, from his Partita, referred to in the poem ‘Goodbye’. The presence of the poet is also signified by the notes D-A-E, taken from Diana’s name, which appear as a motif in the songs. The premiere was given at Diana’s home in 2011 by Elizabeth Emeleus (mezzo soprano), Cathy Irons (violin), Anthony Ritchie (piano).
Dedicated to Diana Neutze - R.I.P. 2013
1. One recurring theme
4. And the birds sing
5. A scent of water
Performed by Rebecca Ryan (soprano), Tessa Petersen (violin) and John van Buskirk (piano).