The House Of Memory

by Peter Byrom-Smith and Oz Hardwick

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    CD in colour sleeve with artwork by Hannah Willow

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about

In 2013, Oz Hardwick came into possession of a small folder of notes and poems written by his maternal grandfather, George Lowden (1896-1978). During his life, George was a shepherd, a farmer and an estate manager, with a love of the countryside, Robert Burns, and the Romantic poets. A self-taught musician, poet and artist, he and his wife Jane spent their later years living in the small terraced house in which Oz and his sister Ruth had the privilege of growing up in a close family unit that spanned three generations. In response to the documents, Oz wrote a sequence of poems which drew from his grandfather's writing, and also from memories of the stories he would tell, which were so influential on Oz's development. ‘The House of Memory’ , a sequence of poems, each of which have been published individually in journals and anthologies around the world. A very personal response to memories of Oz and his family on his mothers side.
Collaborating with composer Peter Byrom-Smith, who is also a very good friend, and have a lot in common, both artistically and socially too, including the love of ‘Prog-Rock the two artists sat down to do their stuff. This, of course, enabled them both to work together closely, sharing each others thoughts, as the compositional process was in free flow, so to speak, and the whole collection of poems, including a recurring Haiku, have now been successfully set to music, as a song cycle for Baritone and Piano. Receiving its premiere in York at a concert in 2016, and performed by the same musicians as on this recording, thereby keeping everything on a very personal and emotional continuity, which makes for a deeply, moving and creative experience by everyone involved in its production.

credits

released September 1, 2017

Music - Peter Byrom-Smtih
Words - Oz Hardwick
Baritone - Benjamin Lindley
Piano - Adam Parrish

Artwork - Hannah Willow
Recorded by Gaz @ Blueprint Studios

license

all rights reserved

tags

about

Peter Byrom-Smith Glossop, UK

In addition to his classical pieces for soloists, ensembles and orchestras Peter Byrom-Smith has written and arranged music for many theatre and film productions, as well as bands from all across the genre spectrum (including the Eurovision Song Contest). His works have been performed, broadcast and recorded in Europe, Singapore, Japan, New Zealand and the U.S.A. ... more

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Track Name: The House Of Memory
close to the border
erased from unmapped countries
a house of mirrors
Track Name: Stars Like Sentinels
The moon is heavy tonight,
plump and livid, barely clearing
the black ground. Blind and bloodshot,
it eyes nothing. Broken-toothed,
hills snap at its arc, swallowing
light. These are the nights I feared,
swollen with superstition and ill omen,
scratched and pricked by old wives’ tales
and dark mezzotints in the Family Bible.

You read this night before I was born,
in dog-eared cards and damp tealeaves,
thumbed almanacs and the turn of the sky,
milk eyes piercing flesh and futures.

Your scent of mothballs and roses
remembers itself in the empty chill
as the last bite of the moon disappears,
leaving me in the company of swans,
eagles, hounds and hunters; guardians
you set to watch my solitary transit.
Track Name: The House Of Memory 2
close to the border
erased from unmapped countries
a house of mirrors
Track Name: In A Glass House
Everything looks smaller inside
as you drift from room to room,
testing boundaries, searching
for the heart of words, a detail
to match your long imagination.

Books line walls, obscuring
cobbled streets, slate sky,
wooden passers by,
lines of tourists snaking
across the grass, waiting

to see their own reflections
in the dead poet’s lines.
At last you find it,
perfectly small, fragile
beneath glass eaves.

The air smells familiar:
pipe tobacco, tomatoes,
paraffin, polish. Your eyes
sting with forgetfulness
shaken loose from years until

catching the light, you discover
a tiny imperfection, scratched
lightly at first, later more firmly,
a dead man’s name,
while, on tumbling shelves,
books catch fire.
Track Name: The House Of Memory 3
close to the border
erased from unmapped countries
a house of mirrors
Track Name: Landscape
I see you shortly after dawn
or perhaps at sunset, your shadow
scratched upon ripe fields
the colour of old paper,
inking lines through soft light.

Your still, taut limbs
become bole and branches,
carved to a semblance of yourself,
staring unblinking at the sun.

Memory makes statues of us all.
Track Name: The House Of Memory 4
close to the border
erased from unmapped countries
a house of mirrors
Track Name: Oaklands
Do not destroy or yet efface
the beauty of this ancient place.

Take the low path, down by the stream,
where we used to run, faster than days,
rushing nowhere, gathering warm bones
of tree and leaf in coarse sacks –
some kind of offering to future fruit –
and when we come to the silent clearing,

stop.

Do not destroy or yet efface
the beauty of this ancient place.

There in the clearing, the slick beast
of ill omen, eyes steady,

staring down the soul of your grandmother –
spit three times and turn around –
wisdom that has served us well
since before she was born.

Do not destroy or yet efface
the beauty of this ancient place.

And when I take again your ghostly hand,
hold me tight once more, tell me again
the secrets that words can’t frame
in a voice that carries frost and flowers,
the turning of the world, everything
lost, found and never known.

Do not destroy or yet efface
the beauty of this ancient place.

And, looking up, I see your face
in the regal oak, crowned in leaves,
bark-scarred benevolence smiling
at my half understanding
as you sing foxes from their lairs
and tickle fish from still pools.

Do not destroy or yet efface
the beauty of this ancient place.
Dame nature’s law has granted thee
that holy woods to all are free.
Track Name: The House Of Memory 5
close to the border
erased from unmapped countries
a house of mirrors

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