January – May 2012 Project – OUR LAST CONCERT
- The Work of Turkey’s national poet Nazim Hikmet brought to life by the unique Songlines Choir in London’s most atmospheric venue
“Probably Turkey’s best-loved poet, Nazim was a romantic and a revolutionary, a political animal who has been called ‘the engineer of the human soul’. Imprisoned for much of his adult life for ‘political offences’, he maintained an incandescent ability to relate the wider world to his own fallible heart and it is this great gift that keeps him as adored and relevant now as ever,”
..says Sarah Jewell – who has a long history of collaboration with Turkish artists and community and who has led her unique choir from London to Turkey and Bosnia to collaborate on musical projects.
Sunday 17 June was a special occasion as Songlines presented The Ballad Of Those Who Drink The Sun at its home in Highbury’s celebrated Union Chapel.
Though banned from publication in his native land, Nazim Hikmet was a truly international figure, befriended and championed by such creative giants as Pablo Neruda, Picasso, Louis Aragon and Paul Robeson, who all recognised his stature and his ability to articulate the deepest concerns of humanity in profoundly lyrical, intimate and sensual language.
The cantata is a song cycle that loosely follows the events of the Turkish poet’s life and loves; captured in the letters and poems he wrote in prison. Composed by Sarah for the centenary of Hikmet’s birth, it was first performed in 2002.
In 2012, Sarah updated and revised her original work with new compositions that reflect the current turbulent times of mass global protest, the search for alternatives and the race to save the natural world.
The 40-strong choir was accompanied by some of London’s most renowned musicians including Nick Bowers-Broadbent on piano and violin, and Kate Shortt on cello. Laced with touches of orientalism from the choir’s travels and the pieces’ soloists, the poetry was sung in English, with ballads, dances and rousing anthems.
Turkish baritone and actor Unal Unaydin, who took the part of the poet, remarked: “Nazim’s lyrical gift is perfect for musical arrangement. It is a moving tribute to his universal humanity that Sarah, a very English composer, has found such inspiration in his work and brought the poems to life for a London audience, capturing both his passion and politics with such emotion.”