2222 - 2230 - timp - org - strings


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Programme Notes

I have always been drawn to the poetry of Christina Rossetti- her work contains a passion and a mystery that speaks to the kind of music I want to write.  ‘Echo’ is a poem that I’d had in the back of my consciousness for some time, so when Crouch End Festival Chorus got in touch to say that they’d like me to write a piece for them a plan started to form.  The poem has one of the most beautiful, extraordinarily redolent opening lines: “Come to me in the silence of a dream”- it’s so immediately evocative, so-otherworldly and so ripe for setting to music.  It feels like a poem that straddles two worlds- where the living and the dead strive to meet and touch - and Rossetti implores her lost one to “Come back to me in dreams.”
A different kind of unreality hit during the writing of the piece.  Covid19 struck the world and suddenly I found myself writing Echo through the first lockdown.  During this time my Dad was in hospital and then a hospice – unable to receive any visitors- and the poem started to take on a new, extremely personal meaning.  The words were, at times, unbearably poignant as there was such a strange intertwining, a literal echo, between the world of the poem and my own torturous days of “watching the slow door”. But, like many artists, it was also a balm to be able to process my futile longing to see my Dad.  Writing Echo provided solace and a degree of sense at a time when my world was falling apart: the words held me and made me feel less alone. “Speak low, lean low” became a kind of mantra on the darkest days and forms the most tender section of the piece.  I wasn’t able to see the magnificent, complex, funny Geoffrey Sydney Curry before he died, and I didn’t get to hold his large, rough, hard-working hand, but this piece will forever be a link between those worlds of the living and the dead, and it will stand as my tribute to him.  
So many of us lost loved ones in 2020 so I also hope that the music will provide a small degree of solace and connection to those of us who experienced a different, traumatic, very new kind of grief; one for which there was no roadmap. Despite my profound sadness the piece has a hopeful centre which surprised me as I was writing – “Pulse for pulse and breath for breath” pushes us into an as yet unwritten future with a strong, beating heart.  There is life and energy and a will to carry on in the piece; but there is also the pushed-down, deep, secretly-carried hope of being able to see the loved ones we lost just one more time.  
Jessica Curry December 2020


St Margaret's Church (Ilkley, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom)

Cantores Olicanae and Orchestra/Charlie Perry


Alexandra Palace (London, United Kingdom)

Crouch End Festival Chorus/David Temple

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