A performance of During These Days, recorded during the final rehearsal before the world premiere (18 June 2016) of this work by Gareth Farr. A very special thank you to the choir, composer and poets for allowing us to share this piece.
A video version of the performance is available here.
A message from Gareth Farr:
During These Days is a setting of two powerful poems of Philip Patston and Brent Coutts - two gay poets who write so powerfully about the time. I was so happy to be asked to write this piece from the Glamaphones in celebration of 30 years of homosexual law reform in New Zealand. I remember it clearly as a teenager, and at the time I was so horrified at the realisation that there was so much hatred towards something I was only just discovering in myself.
My music has a sombre feel to it, which may be a surprise in a concert of celebration, but what I needed to offer was a reminder of the hurt that was done; that helpless and desperate times are an integral part of any political struggle - then, for the gay community - and of course, now, for so many other communities. However - it's not all doom and gloom - the bottom line in this piece is that love conquers all.
A message from Philip Patston:
In light of the recent tragic events in Orlando, Florida, marking the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill takes on even more significant meaningfulness. It serves to remind us that the course of civil rights and social change is not a direct one. Rather we may more usefully thing of our progress as a society - be it local or global - as a path of loops, rather like a telephone cord. Loops that lift us up and pull us down; loops that see us traveling forwards and then backwards. In these cycles we feel the triumph of progression when we are in times of change, innovation and evolution, but then the despair when, on a "backslide", we find ourselves in a place that reminds us of where we started or, sometimes (like Orlando), it may even feel things are worse. At these times, I find it comforting to remember that towards the end of every loop, as we come out of backward motion, we must always move forward beyond the last loop, in order to create the next. The HLR Bill represents one of those progressions that led us into another series of loops - a small step forward in the larger scale of things, but one we shall never lose.
About Brent Coutts and Naming Ourselves:
Brent Coutts was in his last year at high school in Balclutha during the homosexual law reform campaign. Naming Ourselves, published in the book I Know (1994) was a "political identity" poem, a declaration; his version of "I am here! I claim these words! This is me!" In a way a 'chant' he would recite; a rhythm building on the words. Coutts was frustrated that he couldn't find any gay New Zealand poetry, so he decided to publish his own. The book was the first ever book of gay poems published in New Zealand. A few months later David Herkt put out his book of poems The Body of Man. A recent publication by Coutts, The End of History (2012), picks up on the autobiographical vein of the earlier poems in I Know.
1980s, 2010s, aotearoa new zealand, balclutha, brent coutts, choirs, community, composition, david herkt, during these days (composition), during these days (poem), gareth farr, homosexual law reform, homosexual law reform act (1986), i know (1994, poetry book), naming ourselves (poem), philip patston, poetry, singing, st andrew's on the terrace, the body of man (poetry book), the end of history (book), the glamaphones (wellington), wellington