Roger Marsh Composer

Bernard Rands letter from Sydney July 1972

ISCM Australia headed notepaper.

c/o Department of Music

University of Sydney. N.S.W.

Dear Melody & Roger

            “You are too beautiful, my dears….”

It was terrific to get your two letters and to hear that all has gone so well for you in the N.M.E.  – I never had a moment’s doubt that it would, and that you’d also do a terrific job for Alison et al.  My only disappointment is that I was not there to enjoy your performances and triumphs.  Good on yer kids…I’ve missed you all more than you would ever imagine.  Roger, you’re so right about the overworked needing more work of a different and more rewarding nature. Sometimes the ones who moan appall me, when I put in about an 18 hour day, most days of my life.  The secret is knowing how and when to waste time.

Anyway….it has been, and still is, an interesting and rewarding tour for me – lots of TV and radio programmes, and some work in the departments here and in Adelaide. There are two really terrific postgrads (they graduate next year) lined up for York in the 73 session.  Kim Williams here in Sydney and Peter Brideoak in Adelaide – both are terrific and just the kind we need. Both are very keen to come and will certainly get the necessary scholarships.

Your tapes have not yet arrived, but I look forward to them and will acknowledge them as soon as they do.  Would you also send me the two loops of Syrinx – post haste.  I could make them here but I’m really up to the axle in rehearsals and composition that I hardly have a minute to breathe never mind other things.  Maybe I won’t use them – but I’d like to as the theatre fills up.

Cass is to be performed at the Cell Block Theatre on the 22nd July produced and directed and everything elsed by your uncle Bernard – so don’t get the screaming ab jabs – do you think I’d let anyone else near it?  It will be (without question) very good. I’ve got a good Cass – a terrific experimental dancer who uses her voice when she dances to generate her own music – I’ve seen her perform and worked with her during the first month I was in Sydney – that’s what gave me the idea that it was possible.  Thanks for the photos – most helpful though I had an exact picture in my mind of your requirements.  See, I am a little bit attached to that work……! The jug/bottle player ….wait for it…..actually plays in a jug band.  They (the old men) are all students in the dept…except Cass’s boyfriend George who is a writer.  Kim Williams is one of the old men and the rest are the composition/ “doers of things” here students. (There aren’t too many!!!!)

I have a terrific lighting/design guy working with me and for the whole show we shall have over £400 worth of lighting.  I’ve already had 3 x 3 hour rehearsals for Cass and they more or less know the text.  Thursday of this week is the last day for scores.  I have nine more 3 hour rehaersals scheduled plus 2 dress rehaersals (oh dear) rehaersals must be ‘spelled’ like that. I promise you a fine performance.  The Cell Block theatre has a stage at each end and I’m using both with the seating running lengthways and one half of the audience facing the other half – all they have to do is turn their heads to see the end where the action is – there will be one, just one, little moment when they have to make a choice (or hurt themselves)! Programme goes like this…. stage 1 ….a coloured sack lying in a crumpled heap on the floor – all lights out. Gradually the heap becomes visible through very slow increase and changes of coloured lights.  VERY slowly it seems to move and seems to sound….. there is a trombonist inside who really has got it off well …. The whole thing builds to a crescendo of frantic movement and sound – becomes a huge monster – before subsiding ….. diminuendo ….. to black and silence

                           at which point the pianist for Memories of You is at the keyboard of stage two – his presence there revealed by a sudden spot – very bright.  His last actions in relation to the piano are through the audience (follow spot) to the other end so that one now expects the next ‘act’ on stage one however ….. while he has been drawing attention to the other end of the theatre everyone is in place for Ballad 1 (already set out – plenty of room on big stage)

                                                                                                ‘nite’ club lights come on stage two revealing band dressed in maroon tuxedos – she arrives, dressed in glittering evening gown – boobs almost out – (fantastic girl Marilyn Richardson – just returned from Europe having had terrific success as LULU) – so beautiful too – not unlike the young Judy …..after B1 has finished …. Then in body of hall will be Teletopa an improvisation group – instrumental, four players – electronic – David Ahern leader was a pupil of Stockhausen and Cardew – about 10 min ……. During which another terrific guy (singer – fantastic counter tenor – a find like Barry and Paul – also a pianist!) will be in position though unseen, (stage 2) , ready for when the improvisation ends, to play Morsicat(h)y for pianist and mosquito

                                            …leads back to improvisation group now joined by two female dancers working in the aisles and around the auditorium – sometimes lit, sometimes in shadow – another 10 min

                                  ….back to stage one where the same guy who just played the Berberian piece on stage two, launches into Stripsody (a counter tenor – FANTASTIC) you should hear it – you will, he’s coming to England in Sept – he’s got a mezzo soprano range down to a baritone – imagine the variation he can get into those “characters” suggested by the strip cartoons.

………..that cuts to total black with the last “WAM!”

                                                                                                Silence, wait……

Gradually (here connections with the very beginning of the programme, with Memories, and with Morsicathy – and with Ballad 1) ….. the lights slowly reveal she, asleep? maybe? crying? dead? – as Ballad 2 begins – this time Marilyn dressed in casual, coloured jeans, sweater – typical singer’s rehearsal clothes …. The pianist will be in full penguin drag …. She will rehearse and he will give a piano recital – and neither will acknowledge the other throughout the piece …. Their only momentary ½ chance of contact is when she interferes with the strings of the piano when he’s playing …. Connections ….n——ó; n——ó at the end she runs off laughing and waving, he completes his recital, takes his very formal low bow and goes off …. to applause which as it peters out becomes the footsteps of the old men at the other end, stage one – where Cass is in place with flute player and jug player (nobody will hear or see them arrive – the lighting is terrific for that, it completely isolates the stage) …. And so Cass goes into its Australian performance, and will end the evening in a terrific way.  Wish you could be here both of you …..

                                    Will send you programme and poster for your bedroom and any crap the newsboys may dish out.

Much work kids …. Déjà now a beaut little piece for ensemble – quite delicate and lovely. 1st performance Southampton 26th Nov, followed by Purcell Room 28th – both conducted by me – Apollo Ensemble – good.  Now finished.

Beckett poems in English/French now proceed for Philadephia and Sonor concert at Roundhouse – also Nov. – “both” works within that work commissioned. Also commission for memo 2 for Paul now confirmed by Arts Council. So too the commission for Wildtrack 2 for 73 Cheltenham.  Just now had a commission for work from Jane Manning (make yourself known to her at Durham) – will make Ballad 3 for voice and tape.  Will also make Ballad 4 for Harley Newman (the counter tenor) based on street cries … can’t resist it. Cathy will have to wait for her’s for a while.

Have a good time at Durham. Give my greetings to Dallapiccola – he’s a great guy really. Probably will have “forgotten” me as he forgets Martirano and Busotti and a number of others of his pupils who have done terrible things since –  we never talk about music (our music) to him any more. Don’t try to convert him …. Just get from him what he has to give – an immense amount of human strength and a fantastic intellectual capacity. Talk about Joyce, Thomas Mann, Busoni, Verdi, 19th century Italian melodramas …… anything but new music …. he’s  fantastic ………

Get together with Jo and Paul and Barry if you can for your piece. We shall do it at the Roundhouse  in Nov …. Jo is very busy at the moment – in great demand overseas …. Italy, Germany, Belgium this month …. We also have a new Manager.  Have you seen the brochure?

Much more to report …. But must get on …. Looking forward to being reunited with you all in September.  Keep ‘em staggering …….

Lots of love


PS Please write me detailed account of term, degree “results”, …everything.

Still looking out for your promised letter Melody!