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The Byron Festival


One of the (more than a few) gaps in my knowledge of English literature is the poetry of George Gordon, Lord Byron. It felt even more cavernous when Professor Adrian Poole invited me to choose and set a Byron poem to music as part of a major celebration and survey of his work currently happening at Trinity College, Cambridge, where Byron was an undergraduate.

 

Eventually, in a suspiciously unopened Penguin Poets volume I uncovered "on my shelves" (in fact a poetic heap) I found the wonderfully atmospheric lyric, Bright be the Place of thy Soul!  Thanks to its beautiful lilting metre, a musical setting revealed itself quickly, with not much effort on my part. (I've written a little bit more about it here on Trinity's website.)

 

The song received a luxury premiere from Florian Störtz and Malcolm Martineau in a lovely recital (Lorna Anderson also took part) in front of an audience of Byron experts and enthusiasts. My Byron lacuna dove even deeper. But with a controversial personality like his, everyone turned out to have an approachable personal view. I particularly enjoyed my chat with a lady who, surveying the un-Byronic looking delegates, said "we're twice as old as he was, how do we know what he thought?!"

 

Pictured - on the way out of Trinity College, Cambridge. Many thanks to all at this generous event.

 

 

 

 

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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

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