Ronald Corp

Conductor & Composer


Programme Notes

1    When I was hateful
2    You were always anxious
3    You didn’t want to be a burden
4    The diagnosis was shocking
5    He was always there
6    When I was fearful
7    You forgot our birthdays
8    Many the mile I travelled
9    We visited you
10  Many the hour we travelled
11  Some days you were still there
12  You said, “It’s really nice to see you”
13  He’s always there for me
14  When I was worried
15  Everything was closing down
16  Lucid but downcast
17  Help
18  When I was ordinary
19  You and I had different views
20  No more chains

As a young teenage composer I set various poems by my school friend Steve Mainwaring.  Our song-cycle Country Matters, which I composed in 1972, was recorded for the Naxos label in 2011, and I found myself in touch with Steve after a gap of some 40 years.  Steve was still writing poetry and told me about a sequence of poems which he had written on the death of his mother.  She had died with Alzheimer’s disease and I asked to see these poems with a view to setting them to music.  It became obvious right away that these very personal poems would strike a chord with others who had experienced the decline of aged relatives and I started to write settings of some of the verses.  After some to-ing and fro-ing the poems fell into an ordered sequence and the cycle conveys the reactions of the poet from the onset of the disease and its diagnosis to the final release of the body from its earthly torment.  The work is inscribed – “for Esmé, 1920-2009”.

© Ronald Corp 2012

From a son’s point of view, this cycle of 20 pieces traces his relationship with his ailing mother who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  Referring to a number of episodes and memories in their lives, the work poignantly captures the grief and sense of helplessness in the situation, the fear, the anger, the guilt, in music that is often restrained and acts as a kind of restorative to the pain.  The concluding number is ‘No more chains’, a gentle memorial for the deceased woman who is finally at peace.