Poetry and Music Programme

18:00–21:00 | Sage Gatehead | Sage Two | £19.40 (£16.10 conc)

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Tickets: £19.40 (£16.10 concessions) available from the Sage Gateshead website

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18:00 – 18:45 Poems as Songs with Royal Northern Sinfonia

Notes from Underground
Commissioned by Durham Book Festival 2015

Conductor Hugh Brunt
Marcus Farnsworth (baritone)
with the Voices of Hope choir

Notes from Underground is a collaboration between award-winning poet Sean O’Brien and composer Agustín Fernández. This cycle of songs is inspired by poet W.H. Auden’s fascination with the North Pennines and in particular the lead mining industry there. The place held a near-religious and deeply ambiguous importance for Auden all his life. The song cycle will revisit this imaginative territory in a series of lyric dream visions that descend into the subterranean world, where the narrator undergoes an ordeal in the hope of returning to daylight. Agustín Fernández’s work has been widely performed in the USA, including by Royal Northern Sinfornia. Sean O’Brien is one of the UK’s leading poets, winner of numerous awards including the T.S. Eliot Prize. First performed at the Durham Book Festival 2015.


Les Roses
Conductor Hugh Brunt
Rowan Pierce (soprano)

This song cycle is a collaboration between the composer Peter Wiegold and the poet Jo Shapcott. First composed in 1998, the poems were written by Jo Shapcott and are a response to the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke. The theme of the rose runs through much of Rilke’s poetry and writings; there is even a myth concerning the onset of his illness (which led to his death from leukaemia) which was that while gathering roses from his garden, he pricked his hand on a thorn and it failed to heal. The compositional process was much inspired by Shapcott’s poems, particularly the duality between the sensuous attraction and beauty of the rose, and its protective thorns. Les Roses premiered at Purcell Room, South Bank in 1998 with Lizzie Cragg and Helen Reid. This is its first orchestral performance.

19:30 – 21:00 Collaborations between Musicians and Poets


Jacob Polley and John Alder This event gives a musical dimension to Jacob Polley’s fourth book of poems Jackself (Picador, 2016) awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2016. Jacob Polley and musician, John Alder, will perform part of their collaborative musical setting of the book. Jackself is an exploration of English folklore and of the innocence of childhood lost in the darker corners of Reiver country.





The Nine of Diamonds

MacGillivray is the Highland name of writer and artist K M Norrie. MacGillivray’s second collection of poems The Nine of Diamonds: Surroial Mordantless (Bloodaxe, 2016) was written during a Creative Scotland Artist Residency at Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Isle of Skye. She will be reading poems from her new collection, projecting a short Gaelic fantasy film made on the Isle of Skye and performing songs in Gaelic on electric autoharp and acapella. MacGillivray is one of the first nominees for the New Scottish Performer of the Year Award, 2017.




Margaret’s Moon
Jackie Kay and Kathryn Tickell

This is the premiere of the first collaboration between Scotland’s National Poet Jackie Kay and renowned folk musician Kathryn Tickell. The collaboration is based on poems from poet and writer Jackie Kay’s new collection, Bantam (Picador, 2017). Bantam is a collection of work about Kay’s three generations of family in a book that crosses many different borders.