Gordon Forum for the Arts


Autumn 2011

New Words 2011


New Words 2011, North-East Scotland's festival of literature in performance, took place during September, with several events in Central Aberdeenshire. These included Walk the Way, a co-promotion by Huntly Writers and Music Centeral at the Stewart's Hall, Huntly, on 10 September, and a performance by Trio Verso promoted by Inverurie Music at the Acorn Centre on 24 September. The full reviews from which these extracts are taken can be read on the New Words website.

Walk the Way: extracts from a review by Maureen Ross

The Way

Walk the Way told the story of the epic five hundred mile Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage, also known as the Way or Camino. The story was told using poetry, prose and music. Paulina Vanderbilt, whose book The Way: a Poetic Pilgrimage, based on her personal experiences of the Camino, was launched at this event, read the punchy evocative poems from it. She also provided a lively prose narrative tracing its history from earliest beginnings in the ninth century to the continuing popularity it holds today for people of all faiths or none. Lucy Aykroyd, who completed the whole five hundred miles last year straight off (phew!) read complementary extracts from her soon-to-be published journal Leaf or Lizard: Shoe String Tales from the Camino. These readings intertwined with mediaeval songs and music relating to the Camino by the Artisans, a talented group of musicians from London who specialise in early music.

The Way

The performance overall was entrancing despite an odd set-up. Right at the back of the stage there was a projection of pictures of the Camino beaming out from a gap in black curtains which were decorated by a framing of little white lights. The fact that the performers were in silhouette also lent an other-worldly feel to the whole thing. Indeed the words of Vanderbilt and Aykroyd spoke of how the Camino is a state of being rather than an objective to be accomplished.

The hypnotic rhythms of the music maintained the effect. When Yvonne Eddy sang the marvellous Alleluya Vocavit Jhesus I was quite prepared to believe I was at that moment hearing an angel.

The Way

One poet, one chronicler and the Artisans had never met face to face before. The Artisans had travelled that day from London and had about two hours to sort themselves out. A miracle took place. A marvellous evening. A seamless performance. That's professionalism for you. The depth and humanity of Vanderbilt's poetry, the engaging honest humour of Aykroyd's journal and the truly beautiful music and song of the Artisans blended like grace and transported us all.

Trio Verso: extracts from a review by Alistair Massey

Trio Verso

Trio Verso was founded in 2007, combining poetry from Brian Johnstone with the jazz idiom of musicians Richard Ingham (saxophone, bass clarinet and low whistle) and Louise Major (double bass and percussion).

Trio Verso

Brian's poetry is an eclectic mix varying from landscape evocations such as How the Mire Thaws, nostalgic reflections on the Home Service to whimsical commentary on the mundane like Power Cut, which came to a suitably abrupt end. As a primary school teacher for many years, he has obviously shared and enjoyed the children's fresh approach and fun in playing with words. His recitations included found poems that are based on others' writing, such as The Method, a commentary on the rags to riches story of Marilyn Monroe based on the writings of Alistair Mackay: 'Save the tears, you may need them, the doctor says.'

Trio Verso

The musicians' combination of double bass and bass clarinet produced dark primeval sonorities that contrasted well with voice and they were given an improvisation spot in each half of the concert to show off their versatile talents. As well as the idiom of jazz, their experiments exploited the sensual aspect of music making, such as the haunting low whistles in Place of Graves. Louise used soft drumsticks on the body of the double bass in Stormchaser and for much of the concert, Richard added a 'trombaphone', a clarinet reed mouthpiece, to the trombone to give the emotional senses that the group were striving for. The range of effects and their skill in conjuring up the expressions were impressive.

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