A song cycle from Christopher Reid's anthology 'All Sorts'

(2003/rev. 2004)


I was searching around to write some songs for my second daughter, Ottilie, when I happened on an anthology of verse by Christopher Reid, who, as it happened, I had met a few times. The poems captivated me, as they were childlike and sophisticated at the same time, and I selected five and set them, and these were premiered by Sarah Leonard in 2004. I subsequently cut one of the songs, as its musical idiom did not quite fit in with the others, which are composed in the tradition of Mussorgsky's 'The Nursery', Erik Satie, and Poulenc's 'La courte paille'. The revised version was premiered by Sarah Leonard and Sarah Nicholls in February this year at Kettle's Yard, Cambridge. The poet kindly allowed me to personalize the title of his anthology, and cycle is dedicated to Tillie (of course) and to Sarah Leonard.

1. Old Ballad

2. Street Music

3. Yawn

4. The Man from Mattapan

First performed 4 November 2003 by Sarah Leonard and Stephen Gutman. The Warehouse, Theed St, London SE1