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Leeds Trinity poet launches poems to music

Posted on 01 September 2017

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Leeds Trinity Professor and poet Oz Hardwick has launched The House of Memory today (Friday 1 September), a sequence of poems set to music by internationally acclaimed composer Peter Byrom-Smith.

The House of Memory is a collection of poems about Oz's childhood memories of his grandfather and the house he grew up in. It began in 2013 when Oz received a folder of notes and poems written by his maternal grandfather George Lowden (1896-1978). In response to these documents, Oz wrote a sequence of poems which draw from his grandfather's writing, and also from memories of the stories he would tell which were so influential on Oz's development.

Oz said: "My grandparents lived with us, so I spent a lot of time with them when I was growing up. My grandfather is where I got my love of poetry from. His enthusiasm for poetry rubbed off on me. We were very alike. Reading his work made me think of memories of him. I took those and built up a sequence of poems."

During his life, George was a shepherd, a farmer and an estate manager, with a love of the countryside, Robert Burns, and the Romantic poets. He was a self-taught musician, poet and artist, and he and his wife Jane spent their later years living in the small terraced house in which Oz was born, and was a major influence on his formative years.

Oz added: "This project naturally means a lot to me, but others have commented on its emotional resonance. Though very personal, we all experience warm memories tinged with sadness of people who matter to us, and we all experience the resonances of place, and this is what Peter and I have drawn upon for this work."

The poems have been set to music by internationally acclaimed composer Peter Byrom-Smith, and are sung by Benjamin Lindley (baritone) and accompanied by Adam Parrish (piano). The 25-minute piece premiered in York last year, and has now been released by Manchester's Debt Records.

The House of Memory – a structure with many rooms, many doors and many associations – is available to buy on CD and as a digital download