Created alongside a team of composers, the ten songs will premiere at RCNM on Wednesday 21 November
His poem This is the Place came to symbolise a united Manchester after the arena bombing. Now, Tony Walsh has turned his talents to lyrics, after partnering with nine leading composers to create These Days: The Manchester Peace Song Cycle.
With dramaturgy from Feelgood Theatre founder Caroline Clegg and musical direction from bassist Thomas D Hopkinson, the ten-song cycle was commissioned to commemorate 100 years of peace in Manchester and performed to dignitaries during the unveiling of Heaton Park War Memorial. It will receive its public premiere at RNCM on Wednesday 21 November.
The park is the setting for a million stories and I've enjoyed telling a few of them
Spanning suffragette rallies to Grimshaw’s joyous gramophone concerts of Caruso and the Manchester Pals First World War army camp, the songs depict Heaton Park in both war and peace. As well as interesting historically, they also celebrate a city renowned for its regeneration and revolutions; its strength of character and unity of spirit.
Created by nine northern female composers, to mark the centenary of votes for women, the ten-song cycle features additional poetry and words from Simon Armitage, the Wilfred Owen Association, Lindsay Williams and Cathy Crabb. Following its premiere, the cycle will be gifted to the community to be used in schools and community groups across the North West. All royalties will go to local charity Forever Manchester.
Tony Walsh said: “Heaton Park is within a mile of my home and I have many great personal and family memories of special times in this beautiful green oasis. It's been fascinating for me to research the park's importance in the lives of generations of Mancunians and the important role it played in WW1 and WW2 and across the decades.
"The park is the setting for a million stories and I've enjoyed telling a few of them in this important piece. To hear them brought to life by these amazing composers and performers is sure to be a powerful and memorable experience for us all.”
Caroline Clegg, founder of Feelgood Theatre, said: “Heaton Park is the faithful ‘people’s park’ and it has played such a pivotal role in so many major events in the last 100 years; bringing people together to serve, to campaign and to enjoy family life.
"It has been a pleasure to work with Tony Walsh, the composers and performers to capture the heartbeat of those memories and to create something that I hope will be sung in schools and community groups across the region for many years to come”.