Last Friday, on 12 September, Cheltenham College presented Yesterday Lost - Songs and poems of Ivor Gurney, in the Thirlestaine Long Gallery. David McKee, Director of Music, participated in the performance as baritone along with Naomi Johnstone (soprano) and Jonathan Carne (pianist and reader of the poems) of the Ivor Gurney Society, which celebrated the work of Ivor Gurney, a local composer and poet back in the days of World War One.
The performance was presented in three parts; the three stages of his life. First was his life in Gloucestershire, followed by his experiences during the war, and finally ending with his life after the war, including some poems that were written whilst he was in a mental asylum, where he spent his final 15 years of his life.
After the riveting performance, we had the opportunity to interview them afterwards about Ivor Gurney and his work.
One of the most significant aspects of the recital was that Gurney’s poetry was performed in song, thus highlighting his unique style of literature integrated into music. As Mr Carne said, Gurney who “set poetry into music” was not simply a songwriter.
Another prominent part of the popularity of Gurney’s work among that night’s audience is his propensity to portray the mundane in a fascinating and thought-provoking way. As Mr McKee describes him: Gurney was definitely “a war poet of a different kind.”
For younger audiences poetry recital is a gateway that leads down the winding path of literature. Dr. Alex Peterken , Headmaster remarked “That as poetry is different for the poet, the teacher, the student, poetry recitals are crucial in crafting “individual interpretations” to the work.”
All in all it was an unforgettable night for both the audience and the performers; a beautiful blend of song and poetry that was enjoyed by all. - Ashley Yu (L6, W) and Matthew Chye (L6, N)