eternity / is the sea / with the sun / gone away
Stephen Romer’s poem Collects for Lent is an intense and searching meditation. Images of wintry rivers, grey seas, monastic ritual, birds and signs of the year’s natural cycle are sketched in tiny phrases that are as pithy and dense as they are simple, and drawn together in a chronicle of pondering, mourning, endurance, ending with a glimpse of possible rebirth.
Setting these words to music was a wholly positive experience; despite the darkness of the text and the suffering from which it springs, I found it a source of energy, direction and clarity.
The full score was completed and sent off to the performers – the French vocal group Vox’Sing, together with two fine instrumentalists from the Tours Conservatoire – at the end of January. Both Stephen and I coached them in the pronunciation and the poetic import of the words, and after an intense period of rehearsal they gave a wonderful first performance in a beautiful restored Grange in the countryside outside Tours. In an earlier concert violinist Liza Kerob played In a quiet room with a poise and depth of feeling that was very moving. I am sure these will prove to be the first of many happy collaborations.