The first of this year’s new works commissioned through mjf originals is an exciting collaboration with Manchester Camerata.
‘Songs of the Caged Bird’ is a new song-cycle by Manchester composer-pianist George King, written for arguably Manchester’s finest jazz diva, Doreen Edwards, and the chamber strings of Manchester Camerata. It sets poems, speeches and historic sermons connected to the civil rights period in African-American culture in the form of a song-cycle.
A song-cycle for jazz singer is an unusual and under-explored format and one which George has been determined to realise; the subject matter is threaded throughout recent history, and although focussed geographically on a part of the world from which jazz sprung, it still has resonances within theUKand within contemporary culture.
The music plays to Doreen’s strengths as vocalist and communicator, complemented by the improvisatory piano accompaniment and shimmering, impressionistic string parts, interspersed with original recorded speech samples from the civil rights period. The libretto includes work by Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, and a re-setting of the lyrics to Strange Fruit – Abel Meeropol’s poem famously interpreted by Billie Holiday.
The performance will be preceded by a collection of George’s solo piano improvisations.
George is one of the few composer-musicians who successfully straddles both classical and jazz territories. His music has been featured many times on BBC Radio 3 and has been performed across Europe and the US. He is a fine jazz accompanist and soloist and plays with natural swing and a strong sense of well-voiced harmonies.
Doreen is a respected and admired artist whose voice has graced innumerable recordings and performances; this new work gives listeners a chance to hear her centre stage in what will surely be a memorable festival highlight.
Manchester Camerata is the city’s world-class chamber orchestra. With a reputation for bringing audiences first-class performances that are bursting with vitality, Camerata is truly a product of its creative environment – a twenty first century orchestra in one of the most exciting cities in the world.
There will be a post-show discussion with George King, Manchester Camerata and Lifting the Lid in the Theatre following the performance, free to ticket-holders.
£17 / £14 (concs available)
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