‘We are delighted to announce the online launch of Sally Beamish’s solo harp piece, Awuya. Performed by the outstanding young harpist, Anne Denholm, the piece was commissioned by Glasgow University for Professor Keith Vickerman, to celebrate his groundbreaking research in the field of African Sleeping Sickness. Awuya is inspired by the changing forms of deadly trypanosomes, by Central African drums and harp, and by a lullaby from a tribe decimated by sleeping sickness in the 1940s. The original words of the lullaby, sung to a little girl called Awuya, are hauntingly reminiscent of the symptoms of the disease. In his new film, Laurie Irvine has incorporated these ideas, enhancing Anne’s powerful performance.’
In January 2013 I had the joy of a visit from Sally Beamish and Laurie Irvine. We spent a day at the Old Labs in the gardens of Newnham College, Cambridge, recording and filming Sally’s piece for solo harp ‘Awuya’. I have been working on and performing this piece since 2009 and to have the opportunity to work on it with Sally directly was absolutely super.
Awuya is one of the pieces in my repertoire that often calls me to think about how we as performers build relationships with pieces that we engage with, especially if we work on them and keep returning to them over months and years. When I walk on stage to perform Awuya, I feel that I go on with a long-standing, much respected friend, with whom I have a living, developing relationship.
You can watch the film here:
There is also a piece about the project featured on Deep Roots, here: