In the European summer of 2007, on a trip to Copenhagen, I visited the cemetery. I was astonished to discover a glorious park thriving with life! People were having picnics, students were engaged in study groups, tourists admired the beauty of the gardens and the graves of the famous, and locals were paying respect to their loved ones.
In contrast, during my own experiences of death, grief and loss, I am struck by how isolated I became, and how poorly our Anglo-Australian culture is equipped to deal with the emotions of such realities. Through my grief, I became hyper-aware of other cultures’ responses to situations of a similar magnitude, observing the antithesis of my own experiences.
These feelings, combined with my relatively recent appreciation of poetry, led me to create Still Night, a song cycle centred on poetry, based on omnipresent sentiments of death, grief and loss. The text has been drawn from a selection of poetry that spans centuries and the globe, including tenth-century Japanese poet Izumi Shikibu, nineteenth-century English poet John Keats, American writer Walt Whitman, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, French novelist Marcel Proust, American poet Sara Teasdale, and further into the twentieth-century with American writer e. e. cummings, Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas, to contemporary Australian poet, dancer and filmmaker Richard James Allen.
As Robert White so eloquently writes in the liner notes of John Dowland’s ‘In Darkness Let Me Dwell’, “meditating on a beautiful expression of sadness can help to provide a thoroughly uplifting sense of consolation”. May it be so for you.
Andrea Keller November 2016
Still Night: Music in Poetry
Devised and led by Andrea Keller Still Night: Music in Poetry centres around a 60-minute song cycle composed by Keller (2016).
Orchestrated for five improvising jazz musicians, including male & female voice, the songs of Still Night draw their text from a selection of poetry that spans centuries and the globe, connected by omnipresent sentiments concerning death, grief and loss.
Vince Jones (voice)
Gian Slater (voice)
Julien Wilson (tenor saxophone & bass clarinet)
Stephen Magnusson (guitar)
Andrea Keller (piano)
- Premier at the Melbourne Recital Centre in the Salon (November 2016)
“Totally absorbing… This concert worked on many levels, but I found myself slipping easily between momentary explorations of the ideas conveyed by the words and the pure joy of experiencing voice and other instruments… The vocalists blended and crossed beautifully… It was a journey to places that I needed to explore.”
- Review by Roger Mitchell Ausjazz Blog December 9, 201.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
This project is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.