Composer Philip Lancaster is currently writing a new Canticle, Miriam's Exile; a setting for soprano and piano of a poem by the Welsh poet and librettist Euan Tait. Once this work is completed, he is to embark upon a new song cycle, provisionally titled The Sighing Poplar, for tenor and violin. For this, the poet John Greening has agreed to curate and, at least in part, if not entirely, provide the new poems.
Euan Tait generously wrote the poem for the Canticle in the immediate wake of a conversation between poet and composer about wanting to give voice, somehow, to the refugee situation in Syria. Euan's poem is very powerful, and Philip has been creating the music for this piece, which should be completed within the first couple of months of 2018. Thereafter, there is significant interest from singers wanting to bring it to performance in Bristol and London. Although already written, a fee should be forthcoming for Euan, as is befitting a professional poet who produces such wonderfully inspiring work. This new venture into Crowdfunder hopes to redress this need.
The idea for the second work, The Sighing Poplar, arose out of the work of Housman and Vaughan Williams. It hopes to provide a counterpart to Vaughan Williams’s song cycle to words by Housman for high voice and violin, Along the Field. This is in an early stage of development, but it is intended that it be completed during the spring and early summer, before being brought to performance in the autumn in commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Vaughan Williams. In the New Year, John and Philip will begin talking in detail about shaping the work, and begin the process of bringing the idea to life. The initial premise is that Housman’s poplar has been cut down. Who, or what, will now empathise and give voice to the sighing of the soul? The felling of the poplar is also redolent of the felling of the great man, the great maker, that was Ralph Vaughan Williams.
For these works, Philip would like to provide Euan with a fee of £250 for his poem. For the song cycle, he should like to provide a fee of £850 for John Greening. These are modest fees, but are at present beyond the reach of the composer without your help. Any help you would be willing to offer will be appreciated enormously.
If, by some extraordinary and wonderful feat of generosity, the figure being sought is exceeded, then the additional monies will be put towards the performance and publication of the two works.
Thank you for reading, and for taking an interest in this project. Any support you may be able to offer, be it just a few pence, will be very deeply appreciated.
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Euan Tait is a poet, librettist, retreat leader and teacher. His recent collaborations with composers include a major choral symphony with Paul Spicer, Unfinished Remembering (2014), and a series of acclaimed works with Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen.
John Greening is a multi award winning poet, critic and editor, whose recent poetry collections include To the War Poets (Carcanet, 2013), and Heath (with Penelope Shuttle; Nine Arches Press, 2016). He has recently been collaborating with baritone Roderick Williams on his Schubert Song Cycle project, as part of which John has written poems for two new songs by Cecilia McDowall, each responding to one of Schubert’s cycles: A stranger I came out here (afer Schwanengesang) and At the wheel (Die Schöne Müllerin).
For more information about Euan Tait and John Greening please do take a look at their respective websites: