Composed intermittently, ‘Songs Before and After’ is the first music I’ve created since recovering from two successive and damaging Covid infections – both picked up before the UK Covid vaccine rollout. I’m presenting it in memory of my uncle who survived many decades from a genetic illness but lost his life to this virus.
The words come from a poetry sequence from Czech poet and immunologist Miroslov Holub. His poems have been sitting on my shelf since I first heard him in London in 1995. I was captivated by Holub’s poems on my first hearing and they feel uniquely apt for this time.
The first piece in the song cycle was made in collaboration with film maker and director Jennifer Handorf, featuring singer Melanie Pappenheim and percussionist Stephen Hiscock.
Thanks to Bloodaxe for use of the poems and to Cafe Oto, producer Fielding Hope and engineer Shaun Crook for their support with the recording and development of this track. It was recorded in the empty Cafe Oto during the early 2021 lockdown. The original intention was to make this song cycle part of the venue’s wonderful Takuroku lockdown series but Covid meant this couldn’t happen. The series is well worth checking out.
Eighteen months on from my first infection, I am glad to now be recuperated and back to work – I’m composing music at home.