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Remembering Francis Ledwidge through poetry and music

Saturday, 29th July, 2017 2:27pm

Remembering Francis Ledwidge through poetry and music

Remember the brave.jpg

This Sunday's 'Remembering the Brave' concert will take place at the Cathedral of St Patrick and Felim, Cavan Town at 8:00pm. The concert will feature works of Irish poet Francis Ledwidge, born in Slane in 1887, who joined the 5th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 10th (Irish) Division in 1914, serving with them in Serbia, Gallipoli, France and Belgium where he was killed on July 31st 1917.

Ledwidge was greatly inspired by nature and his poetry reflects the landscapes of his native Meath. A number of his poems, including his Lament for Thomas McDonagh, will be performed by one of Ireland’s foremost poets, Noel Monahan. The music programme will include new choral compositions by Paul Flynn, director of music at St Michael’s Church, Enniskillen, as well as new choral imaginings of texts and melodies inspired by the events of 1916. The work includes ‘Lament for PH Pearse’ (Joseph M. Crofts), ‘Let me Carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord’ (Thomas Ashe) and ‘Ag Críost an Síol’ (Micheál Ó Síocháin), which were composed and arranged by Dr Ite O’Donovan.
Originally from Lucan in Dublin Paul Flynn now lives just outside Cavan Town with his family. He contributed five pieces to the programme: “I know the director Ita and “Lassus” [the Dublin Choral Foundation's professional chamber choir]. The concert is on the eve of the centenary of Frances Ledwidge's death, so that makes it a bit special,” the composer told The Anglo-Celt.
His work for this performance is multi-faceted: “The trumpet piece was originally commissioned by the Enniskillen museum. Francis Ledwith fought with the Enniskillen Fusiliers. I was commissioned to compose a piece that would be inspired by music familiar to Frances Ledwidge, for example the Last Post, the sprig of sheleighly and Eileen Alannah. I wove together a piece that suggests the psychological backdrop that Ledwith would have been living in. The Enniskillen connection trumpet commission came about as I am the music Director at St Michael's Parish, Enniskillen. I also direct the St Michael's Parish annual organ recital series.”
There are four other coral pieces composed by Paul for the concert: “Three are sacred pieces. One is a setting of the Ave Maria. It is dedicated to the choirs of Loreto College, but especially, to the late Winnie Hughes, former music teacher in Loreto College. Having this piece sung in Cavan has great personal significance as I worked along side Winnie as a music teacher for three years. She also directed Cavan Singer a number of years. Many in the audience will have had some connection to Winnie, either as singers, colleagues, friends, or students.”
“The communion antiphon is for the mass of the dead. It is the second piece and it feeds into the memorial. Then there is the setting, which is based on hunger. It is about the Eucharist and it ties into Ledwidge's poetry,” Paul explained.
“Noel Monahan is using poetry both his and Francis Ledwidge. The programme weaves in the themes so we have used a score that fits in with the overall theme. And I set a poem by Ledwidge, In France, to music especially for the concert. I tried to create a musical atmosphere from my reflection on the text.”
Paul and Noel have worked together in the past. In 2013 the collaborated in the production of a piece that melded music and poetry for the Fleadh. “We built up an understanding from that. The council commissioned us to produce a choral and poetry piece for the first Fleadh.”
The international aspect will be reflected in the much-loved final chorale from St John’s Passion (J.S. Bach), Justorum animae by Irish composer C.V. Stanford and selections from the five-part Requiem by Orlande de Lassus. Jason McAuley (trumpeter) will sound The Last Post. Established by Dublin Choral Foundation in 2015 ‘Lassus’, directed by Dr Ite O’Donovan, was launched at the National Concert Hall on Wednesday, January 27th 2016 performing Mozart’s Requiem.
Audiences have been thrilled and inspired by their performances of Renaissance and Irish music and were particularly moved by their concert held in St Mary’s Church, Haddington Road, Dublin, on Remembrance Day 2016 in memory of those who died in the Great War and in the 1916 Easter Rising.

Tickets €20 (€12 conc.). Available from Cavan Gifts and Multisound, both on Main Street, Cavan.

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