Three songs from a new song cycle using Virginia Woolf’s letters to her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, are available online via SoundCloud.
Composed by Richard Barnard, they are titled ‘As A Writer‘, Nessa and Duncan, and A Dancing Light. They were recorded by Rhys Maslen at St Augustine’s Chapel, Bristol, and this part of the project was supported by Arts Council Wales.
Here are the descriptions of the songs, as copied from Barnard’s blog:
- ‘As A Writer’: Woolf frequently used Vanessa’s art as a metaphor for her own work. Here she describes the writing process as feeling beauty “which is almost entirely colour”, condensing ideas like pouring “a large jug of champagne over a hairpin”.
- ‘Nessa and Duncan’: A brilliantly teasing letter in which Woolf imagines a scene at Vanessa and Duncan Grant’s home as they discuss her recently published novel To The Lighthouse (clearly nervous of their judgement!)
- ‘A Dancing Light’: Part of a letter of 1937 written soon after the death of Vanessa’s son Julian in the Spanish Civil War.