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The lyrics to these songs come from a poetry collection by the Auckland poet, playwright and paediatrician Renee Liang. Renee, a second-generation Chinese New Zealander, named the collection Banana after a sometimes pejorative term for Asians in Western societies (i.e. yellow on the outside, white on the inside).
All of those poems are highly personal and are based on the author’s own experiences. I chose to set seven for this song cycle – two about grandparent-grandchild relationships (experience and spiders), two about the bond between parent and child (Warsaw Concerto and To my sister), and three “Mental notes” – short observations on the ephemera of life.
Thanks go to Frances Moore and Catherine Norton for first performing it; Debbie Rawson for providing space outside of the big city conducive to composing; Lizzie Dobson for being around that weekend and listening to me get excited about the most recent few bars; John Parker, Barbara Paterson, Justus Rozemond and Jacqueline Coats at NIMBY Opera; and the Bay of Islands Arts Festival for bringing The Cunning Little Vixen up north.
Written for Frances Moore
intermediate to advanced
Dedicated to my parents, who make me and my sisters, who believe in me / (Warsaw Concerto:) For my father / (To my sister:) For Rhea
II. Mental note #18
III. Warsaw Concerto
IV. Mental note #23
V. To my sister
VI. Mental note #34
Poems by Renee Liang, from her collection "Banana"
30 Jan 2010: NIMBY Singers in Concert
28 Mar 2010: Music and Poetry – East meets West
31 May 2013: Performed by Georgia Smith (soprano) and Ben Blozan (piano) at the University of North Carolina Greensboro Recital Hall, in North Carolina, USA.
25 Sep 2013: Robbie Ellis - Otago University Lunchtime Concert