Los Nacimientos – Composer Tom Randle on his exciting new project for Buxton International Festival

Los Nacimientos is a new, interdisciplinary dance/ theatre piece created in collaboration with dotdotdot dance. The piece itself began life as a song cycle – a setting of texts by the Nobel prize-winning Chilean revolutionary poet Pablo Neruda. The original cycle consisted of five settings of some of his most beautiful and sensuous texts, and has been performed on numerous occasions both in the UK and abroad by the excellent Canadian-British soprano Gillian Keith and superb pianist John Reid.

When I first encountered the poems of Neruda, I was struck not only by the sheer beauty of the words, but also by their immense strength and vitality. While it is clear that Neruda’s more politicised verses were capable of uniting a nation, his more intimate, romantic poems are every bit as powerful. Another aspect of his poetry is the fact that they are, in themselves, so very musical. The lightness and lyricism of his words made it a joy to set to music.

Although the song cycle in its original form had been received very successfully, it was after seeing a performance by dotdotdot dance at in the Buxton Fringe festival that the idea was hatched to work with them and put these two elements – 21st century Art Song and flamenco infused choreography – together. The ensuing result is the piece entitled Los Nacimientos (The Births). The title is taken from another of Neruda’s poems.

Since meeting with dotdotdot dance, the work has been expanded. Two new songs were added to the original set of five, and four piano interludes, called ‘Capitulos’ (‘Chapters’) were written to be interspersed among the sung poems. As Nerudas poems are so full of fantastic imagery, many of which focus on the elemental, we can expect to see choreography of immense strength and power to compliment an equally dynamic musical performance.

The goal of Los Nacimientos is to a forge a new type of theatre combining music, dance, sound and vision into a cohesive whole and bring to life the incredible verses of Pablo Neruda in a way never before seen. We hope that those already familiar with Neruda will welcome the chance to revisit his work in a brand new way, and for those encountering his poems for the first time, I can promise an extraordinary and unforgettable evening.

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Los Nacimientos will be performed at the Pavilion Arts Centre on Saturday 15 and Saturday 22 July at 7.30pm.