Works by a local poet get a musical treatment

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The poetry of local writer Thomas Leduc was set to music by a composer from southern Ontario.

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Owen Bloomfield, from Cambridge, will share his interpretation of Leduc’s poetry, along with that of three others, through an online concert titled Slagflower and Other Songs.

The concert will be available for viewing via webcast this Friday at 8 p.m., and will remain available until 8 p.m. on Saturday.

At the center of the concert is the recent song cycle Slagflower Songs, based on poems from Leduc’s recent collection Slagflower: Poems Unearthed from a Mining Town, published by Latitude 46.

“Owen’s chosen poems are some of my favorites and I’m so thrilled to hear them lift off the page and dance to our ears,” Leduc said in a statement.

Also on the program are vocal works from other Bloomfield projects with lyrics by Rae Crossman of Kitchener and Lawrie Crawford of the Yukon.

Performers include Marion Samuel-Stevens, soprano, and Irene Gregorio, piano, both of Guelph; and Tilly Kooyman, bass clarinet from Waterloo. The webcast was produced by Chestnut Hall Productions of the Region of Waterloo.

Leduc’s Slagflower collection was published in 2019, and Bloomfield said he immediately embraced the poems.

“Always looking for texts to set to music, the potential for a collaboration was obvious,” he said in the press release.

Five Slagflower poems were chosen: the title track as well as Tremors, Shiftwork, My Calendar and Steppingstones (for Stephanie). There is also an instrumental piano interlude inspired by the poem Cigarette Satellite.

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“Each of the poems represents a different section of the book as well as a different aspect of life working for a mining company or being in a relationship with someone in that job,” the statement noted.

“They also address the intergenerational effects of working in the mines.”

Other pieces on the program are works for voice composed by Bloomfield over the past 20 years. They include stand-alone songs and pieces from larger works like cantatas, as well as large interdisciplinary works.

Crawford’s piece is taken from the work Tilt!, which examines the extremes of life using life in the land of the Midnight Sun as an apt metaphor. Crossman’s piece is part of a larger work for music, dance and spoken word about the life of a river from its source to its flow, through its geological and human history.

The concert also includes a setting of On Marriage from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

The production would like to thank the generous support of the Region of Waterloo Art Fund.

Tickets are chargeable and can be purchased at www.owenbloomfield.com/slagflower.

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