War Poems – the dead returning lightly dance
for large ensemble and recorded voices
by Evelyn Ficarra
The audio excerpt above is from Movement IV and features Nicolas Pégard and Krystel Nguyen reading fragments of Apollinaire’s “Ecoute s’il pleut’. The whispering chorus was performed by my colleagues in the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex. The instrumental players are the Apollo Chamber Orchestra conducted by David Chernaik.
Now all roads lead to France
And heavy is the tread
Of the living. But the dead
Returning lightly dance.
War Poems: the dead returning lightly dance was commissioned by Poems on the Underground. It was premiered at the London Transport Museum on 2nd November 2016 by the Apollo Chamber Orchestra, conducted by David Chernaik.
This piece is a musical response to sounds and images from international poetry of World War One. There are five movements, one for each year of the war (1914-1918). The musicians are arranged in two opposing camps, each with its own battery of percussion. All poems are heard in their original language. Most of the featured poets fought in the war.
I La Petite Auto / The Little Car 4’20
II Im Osten 3’00
III Fratelli 2’15
IV Attack 8’00
V Youth / Truth 4’45
Wilfred Owen, Marina Tsvetaeva
Lennart Balkenhol, Gianmarco Gaviglio, Tatiana Gelfand, Mark Johnson, Krystel Nguyen, Nicolas Pégard, and the University of Sussex Orchestra, Colleagues in the School of Media, Film and Music
Thanks to: University of Sussex, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at the University of California, Berkeley, Pip Donaghy.
This is a photo of the premiere at the London Transport Museum. On the right is Michael Rosen, who read the poems in translation between movements.