Gateshead Prom


Some time ago in the Covid aeons, Sage Gateshead's Wendy Smith invited me to make a choral setting of Julia Darling's poem indelible, miraculous. At the time I didn't know about Julia, a Newcastle-based writer who died of a long-term cancer in 2005. But her poem very soon struck me as indeed 'miraculous' and perfect for a reflective piece of music, composed during that extraordinary period when everyone was confined indoors. She speaks about small, ephemeral events in nature, but then builds to the firm, confidence-building words, "we all matter". (I would love to hear one of today's striving politicians reading this radiant poem out loud.)


Wendy originally invited me to write for Quay Voices, a teenage group with upper voices and one bass line. It's an interesting challenge - there's a tendency to write for the altos as if they were tenors, which I didn't altogether avoid. As things turned out, Quay Voices took an inevitable Covid-year break, and the song sat around for a little while. But by happy chance, Sage were founding a new community choir, Voices of the River's Edge, and it was they who have just premiered 'indelible, miraculous' in the BBC Gateshead Prom, the first full evening Prom ever to have been staged outside London. I thought it bold and brave of the choir to sing a world premiere, a cappella composition live on Radio Three as their very first performance of anything (under conductor Dinis Sousa - with many thanks also to choral rehearser Grace Rossiter.)


Pictured - Voices of the River's Edge rehearsing for the Gateshead Prom in the wonderful Sage concert hall . On the currently available BBC Sounds link, indelible, miraculous starts around 30'20".

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer