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Judith Weir: BBC Proms at Sage Gateshead

Judith Weir for Proms

Judith Weir is a new fan of Julia Darling’s poetry. When Sage Gateshead invited Judith to compose a piece of music inspired by Darling’s poem Indelible, Miraculous for the BBC Proms, she became engrossed in Julia’s work.

“It’s important to spread knowledge of this unique poet,” she says. “Julia passed away 17 years ago, but she has got so much to say to us at this time as we recover from the pandemic.”

Judith, who was appointed Master of the Queen’s Music in 2014, believes that producing new work is vital. She’s excited about seeing Indelible, Miraculous performed in Sage One by Voices of the River’s Edge, a choir formed as part of the BBC Proms at Sage Gateshead: Folk Connections.

“As a composer, I think it’s important that music keeps up with developments and continues growing through community choirs.”

There’s a local relevance to the piece. Many people may know Indelible, Miraculous, and Judith hopes audiences will enjoy the poem set to music.

“I’ve drawn out some of the overall atmospheres of the poem,” says Judith. “Putting the words to music draws their meaning out even more.”

Ethereal imagery like ‘a deep pool of silver water’ and ‘frosted, untouched grasses’ possess a quiet strength that builds as the poem unravels.

“It’s got such a brilliant structure,” she says. “I underline what Julia did. It starts quite faint and ends up with something tremendously strong: we all matter, we are all indelible, miraculous, here.”

“Julia went through so much illness but wrote such radiant words,” Judith says. “I think that is really valuable.”

She was deeply touched as she recently watched Voices of the Rivers Edge perform her piece in a rehearsal.

“I always imagine what it will be like, but the first time you hear the people is incredible,” she says. “They’d given so much to it.”

For Judith, the rehearsal was a special moment in the process leading up to the BBC Proms performance.

“I was asked to give the choir any hints and thoughts about what they were doing. The main thing is to think about Julia’s lines and how they can translate that into their own performance.”

“The poem is loving, and I want Voices of the River’s Edge to send that out on the radio all around the world. It’s a big thing they are going to do.”