Letters from Lony, St Jude's Church: 'Profoundly moving, quietly conversational, emotionally disciplined'

PUBLISHED: 13:00 04 July 2017

Sarah Pring sings Letters from Lony. Picture: David Crossley

Sarah Pring sings Letters from Lony. Picture: David Crossley

Archant

Composed by Ron Corp, it was based on letters sent from 1939 to 1944 by a Jewish woman in Amsterdam to her baby grandson

Setting holocaust-related texts to music isn’t easy - it requires avoidance of the cheaply sentimental; but ‘Letters from Lony’, a song cycle for mezzo and piano quintet that premiered as a special commission for the Silver Jubilee of the Proms at St Jude’s, judged the process well.

Composed by Ron Corp, it was based on letters sent from 1939 to 1944 by a Jewish woman in Amsterdam to her baby grandson Peter Lobbenberg, who lives in the suburb. The last of them comes from a transit camp where she’s en route to Terezin, then Auschwitz. And the unsensational banality of what she writes (or more particularly, doesn’t write) is potent: there’s a sense of things too terrible for words and therefore unreported which accumulates into asphyxiating tension.

Corp’s score catches that effectively: it’s quietly conversational, emotionally disciplined.

And the perfomers - Sarah Pring, the Chilingirian Quartet and pianist Andrew Brownell, did it proud - before a Hampstead Garden Suburb audience that listened with connectedness, profoundly moved. Me too.

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