Immortal Sappho

Chamber Music –

Immortal Words

and

Immortal Sappho (2002) for solo harp

Immortal Words was commissioned by the Cambridge Music Conference 2002 (Harp and the Oral Tradition). The aim was to create a work for narrator and harp to be danced by eurythmists. This had a profound influence on the composer’s choice of words and musical style. Sappho came to mind as a poet who could set a suitable mood for the costumes and movement styles used in eurythmy. The extant fragments of Sappho’s works still speak to us after almost 3 millenniums and it was challenging to put the components together to make a meaningful whole. It is wonderful that in our modern world, we can still rely on words from the distant past to inspire us! Harpist Catherine Thomas performed the premiere of “Immortal Words” in August 2002 at the West Road Recital Hall in Cambridge, England with eurythmists from the Kosmos Dance Company.

The composer arranged a version of the piece for harp alone entitled Immortal Sappho in 2003.

The following was written by Elizabeth Carmack, who commissioned the work as organiser of the Cambridge Music Conference. She wrote this after hearing the first rehearsal of Immortal Words:

“I have been to London today to an artistic rendering of Sappho’s “Immortal Words”… music for the harp weaving chosen fragments of Sappho’s poetry together immortalizing Sappho’s voice and spirit. The piece of music was/is extremely beautiful… as Sappho’s words/voice/spirit live on immortalized through the power of human memory! ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT AND BEAUTIFUL IT WAS… a very special balance between music and poetry, life and death, art/memory and immortality. Immortal Words works well in my imagination as the inspired metaphysical heart of this year’s music conference!”

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