Monday, January 21, 2008

Hone Tuwhare and Music

I note in the ODT (the Otago Daily Times, for them wot don’t know) that the recently deceased NZ poet, Hone Tuwhare, is to be honoured in a musical composition.
Anthony Ritchie is going to work with young Dunedin singer, Matt Landreth, to create a new piece, with words by Tuwhare. Three of Tuwhare’s poems will be set to music, including the ubiquitous Rain, which is apparently his most well-known and anthologised piece. (You can find a copy of it here.)
Another young Dunedin singer, Michael Grey, is going to work with Auckland composer Jeff Linn. That piece will revolve around a poem by Li Yu, the last emperor of the Southern Tang dynasty. (It has nothing to do with a Southern Man, in case you’re wondering.)
I’ve accompanied Michael in the past, and he was also a strong and very musical member of the now defunct group, Opera Alive.
Anyway, there are six of these combo jobs going on around the country: six composers working with six emerging artists.
I was interested in this piece of news, because I wrote a song using Hone Tuwhare’s words some time ago, and only had it performed last year for the first time. (By another young and emerging artist, who also happens to be very keen on sport; it’s a moot point which ‘art’ will beat the other out.)
To have the song performed publicly meant getting permission from Tuwhare himself. At that time, for some reason, he wasn’t living in Kaka Point; he was up on Waiheke Island, and I had to contact him via an intermediary. He was pleased to have his poem used, apparently, and after a negotiation about a very small fee for the use of his words, the performance went ahead.
The poem in question was Sun O (2). I’m not quite sure what the (2) signifies. I don’t know of a poem by him called Sun O (1), but maybe there is one. Anyway, you can listen to a version of the song online at the site.
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