Thread of Gold

Rosemary Duxbury & Jay Ramsay

Jay and Rosemary in the early 90s. Photography by Carole Bruce

Thread of Gold:

Poetry of Jay Ramsay

Music of Rosemary Duxbury

 

Review  & interview by Kevan Manwaring

Rosemary Duxbury is a remarkable musician based in Leicester. A BFI and BAFTA Crew member, she has collaborated with many talented people including film-makers, dancers, and artists. Recently, she re-released a recording she made with the late poet Jay Ramsay in the early Nineties, which set some of his poems to music as well as including her own instrumental compositions.  She felt compelled to re-issue it this year in memory of Jay, who died in December. A community celebration of his life took place in his long-term home of Stroud, Gloucestershire, in May – where she launched the CD and performed a couple of tracks. ‘Thread of Gold’ has 10 tracks that skilfully weave together Jay’s poetry and Rosemary’s music like two skeins. Sometimes we hear the poet’s voice, naked and sonorous; sometimes Rosemary’s sublime music; and sometimes the two unite in alchemical fusion.  A viola soars like a bird over the sweeping piano landscape – as though Vaughan Williams had met Keith Jarrett on some paradisal island. The effect is elegiac, meditative, and soothing. Jay’s voice is full of the incantatory charge he was known for, but it is taken to another level by the brilliant singer Chloe Goodchild in ‘I, John’, and soprano Julie Moffat works her own magic on ‘Songs of the Mysterious’, recorded in Leicester Cathedral. It is a paean to life’s deep beauty and sublime transcendence.

An interview with Rosemary Duxbury

by Kevan Manwaring

So, first of all, could you say a little about yourself? What’s your background and how did you get to this point in time and space?

Growing up in the village of Quorn, Leicestershire, I studied piano with composer John Brydson and later with concert pianist Marlene Fleet, and was a violinist in the Leicestershire School of Music. After studying Music and Inter-Arts at Bretton Hall College, Leeds University, I continued postgraduate violin studies with Celia Davies MBE. An innate interest in spiritual and musical exploration led to composition, something which came naturally to me. Having gained a distinction for my MA in Professional Media Composition (Chichester University), I now write both classical concert music and music for media and film.

You have a new album out – ‘Thread of Gold’ – can you tell us about that, how it came to be, and your connection with Jay Ramsay?

I first met Jay when he attended one of my concerts at Burgh House, Hampstead, London, in 1990. Moved by my piece, Reverie (for viola & piano), Jay asked me to select some his poems to set to music, immediately posting me all of his poetry books. I recognised a kindred spirit, and we started to meet regularly, putting performances together, and sharing ideas further in Stoneygate, Leicester and Upper Holcombe, Gloucestershire. ‘Thread of Gold ‘ was subsequently created as a limited edition cassette to celebrate our collaboration. It was launched at ‘Mirrors of Grace’, an evening of music & poetry at St James, Piccadilly, London on 25th May 1992. With Jay’s recent passing I decided to re-release the album on CD in his memory.

So, first of all, could you say a little about yourself? What’s your background and how did you get to this point in time and space?

Growing up in the village of Quorn, Leicestershire, I studied piano with composer John Brydson and later with concert pianist Marlene Fleet, and was a violinist in the Leicestershire School of Music. After studying Music and Inter-Arts at Bretton Hall College, Leeds University, I continued postgraduate violin studies with Celia Davies MBE. An innate interest in spiritual and musical exploration led to composition, something which came naturally to me. Having gained a distinction for my MA in Professional Media Composition (Chichester University), I now write both classical concert music and music for media and film.

You have a new album out – ‘Thread of Gold’ – can you tell us about that, how it came to be, and your connection with Jay Ramsay?

I first met Jay when he attended one of my concerts at Burgh House, Hampstead, London, in 1990. Moved by my piece, Reverie (for viola & piano), Jay asked me to select some his poems to set to music, immediately posting me all of his poetry books. I recognised a kindred spirit, and we started to meet regularly, putting performances together, and sharing ideas further in Stoneygate, Leicester and Upper Holcombe, Gloucestershire. ‘Thread of Gold ‘ was subsequently created as a limited edition cassette to celebrate our collaboration. It was launched at ‘Mirrors of Grace’, an evening of music & poetry at St James, Piccadilly, London on 25th May 1992. With Jay’s recent passing I decided to re-release the album on CD in his memory.

Have you been involved in other artistic collaborations?

I have had an interest in the shared relationship of different art forms from early on. I am fascinated by the process of transcending form to access the source of inspiration, and finding the heart of the work. Through Jay, as well as writing songs for the concert repertoire, I also wrote music for the film of his poem,“Adam’s Song” (dir. Mark French). I have set the work of several other poets including Alan Rycroft, Marion Fawlk and Diana Durham, and enjoy working with film directors, photographers, choreographers and artists.

I also love when other artists choose my music to be creative with. Former world professional ice skating champion Lorna Brown has choreographed my music in Los Angeles and Swiss director Roelof Overmeer used my piano compositions in his theatre work in Lausanne. Photographer, Annette Horn regularly chooses my music to accompany her photographic shows and has made a series of photographic films inspired by my compositions. A highlight of our collaboration was with pianist Patricia Siffert and dancer Oliver Essigmann, in a production called “Mirrors of Light”, premiered at the renowned Reitstadl Concert Hall in Neumarkt, Germany to packed audiences.

Who are your inspirations, creatively, critically, and in life, generally?

Musically I feel I’m part of a classical lineage, but I’ve also been inspired by ECM jazz artists such as Jan Garbarek and Keith Jarrett for melody beyond boundaries. Other influences include Harold Budd and his album ‘The Pearl’ which directly inspired some of my classical piano music, and Arvo Part and John Tavener for establishing a sacred minimalist style, a school I feel I belong to. I love being part of a community of composers both living and those who have gone before, yet all working together with ‘Sound’ which I understand to be a flowing and evolving ‘life force’. Generally I am inspired by people who I consider to be Masters of their subject, and those who demonstrate kindness and heart-centred living.

What’s on the horizon for you? Any exciting plans or projects? Performances or commissions?

I have several composition ideas that I’m eager to write. I’m keen to set more poetry to music – I’d like to try the combination of soprano and cello. I also have sketches for a chamber piece and am drawn to writing for a Pierrot Ensemble (cello, clarinet, flue and violin). So if someone would like to commission either of these compositions, they will get written sooner rather than later! I’m delighted the viola piece Reverie that I mentioned earlier is being presented in Biel, Switzerland this summer, and I’ve just heard that my choral setting of Jay’s poem Angel Whisper is to be performed by the Leicestershire Chorale (conductor: Tom Williams) in early 2020. Since completing my MA in Film Scoring, and being a current member of the BFI Network & BAFTA Crew 2019, my attention is also on music for film right now.

If you could sum up your ethos, your approach, or ‘mission statement’ what would it be? What key message are you trying to get across?

“For me, composing is an honouring of the creative spirit, an awakening and expression of an inner landscape of understanding”. The more I compose, the more I find myself observing what is being written and the more the compositions are revealing inner truths to me, inner landscapes of understandings beyond words, and awakening me to higher realities. My wish is that the composition becomes a structure that can then be a vehicle for the listener to go to their own place within, in order to travel to and perceive places of beauty and truths in one’s own consciousness, and thus be uplifted and inspired by the experience. One of my favourite quotes is: “Once an artist creates a true structure, then divine love can pour into it and make it a thing of great beauty” (Harold Klemp)

Any final advice to those starting out creatively?

 Take time to ‘know thyself’. I’m a great believer in exploring the inner self, to find one’s source of creativity. Dive into self enquiry, ask deeper questions, ask how can I go further? Answers are often within. Study how Master artists have tapped into their creativity, their tips may unlock your own talents. Contemplation, journaling, dream study, improvisation have all helped me. The more you know your true Self the more you uncover what it is you personally have to offer, you then have something to genuinely say, and your work can become authentic and individual. Secondly, the creativity that comes through needs a good vehicle, so continually practice and study to refine one’s skills, explore and listen, and immerse yourself in your chosen art form. Thirdly, ‘Be true to yourself’. Follow your own path and intuition. Trust what comes through, where your inner guidance takes you. It is an amazing force which can reveal content that has an innate intelligence, naturally creating form and can take one on a truly inspiring journey.

 

Jay Ramsay&RosemaryDuxbury copy 2

‘Thread of Gold’ is released by Charasound

www.charasound.com

For Jay’s poetry go to Awen Publications

www.awenpublications.co.uk

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