The Alban Berg Quartet and Shlomo.

Rehearsed with Shlomo today, in the Spirit Level beneath the Royal Festival Hall. Shlomo is the beat boxer extrodinaire. I read the poem Let There Be Peace and Shlo mixed it up with a sort of voice box distortion.  It was beautiful.    We ended the poem and there was silence. “That’s it” I said “that’s what I want to do”.   This  should be a very powerful moment at Glastonbury on Saturday which is why we are rehearsing it.   The rest of the day is spent in dynamic meetings with the literature team steered by the extremely talented  Rachel Holmes.  And though I am absolutely shattered I must stay for tonights concert is

One of the greatest ensembles of our time – San Fransisco chronicle

A performance of definitive greatness. –  Daily Telegraph

I took part in an historical concert by being part of the sold out one thousand strong audience at the final concert of The Alban Berg Quartet. They are a world class quartet and have been together for over thirty years.  One year after the death of Thomas Kakuska they have decided to gracefully end their illustrious career.

I was commissioned  to write  a poem for them and did. It is called Rosin and was placed  inside the  final programme of this concert. Afterwards I  read the poem for them, to them at  a private reception held in their honour on 6th floor of The Royal Festival Hall.  They were each presented with a framed signed copy as a present from The South Bank.

I had previous said that I didn’t  want to read the poem. I felt I had achieved everything by writing it and was in truth nervous about spoiling the piece by going one step further and being the performer.   I wanted someone else to read it. Ian McEwan and Patrick Stewart friends of The Southbank centre were approached but both were working.

Slowly as I read the poem it started to work its magic.  Poems at times, they are like good friends they will not let you down. They ask you to respect them.  They in turn will walk with pride and gentle confidence amongst the listener and audience, a djhin.  As the reading continued the poem seemed to become itself, a spirit,  darting inside and out of people whose wine stayed perfectly still, hovering in hands.  It was the perfect place to read and I was the perfect person to read it.

Rosin, is the substance used to clean the bow strings.  It makes virtually invisible dust as it serates the strings.   After each concert the player will wipe the Rosin away. The poem is also about the pause between the end of a concert and the applause.   The reading was filmed by Megan Price who is making a pilot TV production for Sky TV called The Writers Room,  a series of six programmes about the lives of six writers.  The heart of this evening was The Alban Berg Quartet and their incredible concert.  The poem has been requested for publciation by Fiona Sampson of Poetry Review.   I got on my bike and road home not on a high cloud but in a high cloud. Home 1am.

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