Grammy-nominated early music singers to perform at Hackney Refugee Week concert

Pic: Stile Antico

Grammy-nominated early music vocal ensemble Stile Antico will perform at Round Chapel, Hackney this Sunday at a concert  to celebrate Refugee Week.

Stile Antico will be performing with a London based Syrian oud player Rihab Azar and a choir of asylum seekers and refugees called Woven Gold.

The concert, entitled “Songs of Longing and Exiles” explores themes of exile and migration by using modern texts collected from today’s refugees’ experiences.

Rebecca Hickey, one of the singers from Stile Antico, told ELL: “The concert marks the end of Refugee Week, celebrating all that we have in common, and most particularly the uniting power of music. It has been a richly rewarding experience for us to work with Rihab and Woven Gold and to share our music together.”

The program features music by composers including John Dowland and Handel. English poet Peter Oswald has written new lyrics for Dowland’s 17th century piece Lachrimae which looks at displacement and exile and presents a contemporary counterpoint to the music based on testimonies from today’s refugees and migrants.

Oswald said: “Stile Antico asked me to provide some new lyrics for Dowland’s Lachrimae. I was to use the words of refugees, and follow as precisely as possible the rhythms of Dowland’s existing lyric. In two of the lyrics I have interwoven Dowland’s words with the contemporary words, first in alternate verses then in alternate lines, so there is a progression out of Dowland.”

All three groups will also be performing a new work by a British composer Giles Swayne. The new piece “Bodrum Beach” is written for the twelve voices of Stile Antico, Rihab Azar, and Woven Gold refugee choir.

Swayne said this piece was inspired by photographs of drowned Syria boy that quickly spread around the world in 2015.

“In early September 2015 the wife and two children of a Syrian Kurdish family were drowned while attempting to cross from Bodrum to Kos in an inadequate boat provided by people-smugglers. Photographs of the dead body of a three-year-old boy face down on a Turkish beach aroused international outcry, and then, of course, most people forgot about it.”

Bodrum Beach takes as its starting-point Matthew Arnold’s poem Dover Beach, which was written in 1851. The poem’s prevailing image is one of tranquil beauty co-existing with violence and cruelty in today’s context, the close proximity of a popular tourist resort to senseless human suffering.”

The event is free. More information can be found on Stile Antico website.

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