William Wordsworth was a very significant Romantic-era English poet. In fact, he was England’s official poet laureate, a government appointment that would have seen him commissioned to write poems for many high profile events and ceremonies, for the last 7 years of his life. His 1807 collection of works, Poems in Two Volumes, was released at a time when Wordsworth’s popularity and success was at an all-time high, but was harshly received by critics, with some calling it “not simple, but puerile” (Byron, Baron George- 1837).
When I came across I Wander Lonely as a Cloud, a piece from Wordsworth’s 1807 publication, I had quite a different experience. At first read, the poem is very light and wishful, despite the melancholy title. However, it is not until the end of the poem that one sees that the simple joy expressed early in the poem are considered past tense, and that the narrator is actually in longing for those feelings, perhaps to alleviate the loneliness and sorrow he/she feels presently.
This perfectly sums up the theme for the February 13th Spectrum Music concert, “Love, Loneliness, and the Spaces Between”. Musically, I found it very easy to represent this gleeful/melancholy contrast using the fascinating sound of the koto. Its tone is light, but somewhat haunting, and the tuning that guest vocalist/kotoist Jessica Stuart uses is made up of a combination of both a major and minor scale. Again, contrast- major vs. minor, glee vs. melancholy, love vs. loneliness.
Daffodils is an attempt to capture this range of motions, and will be masterfully presented by Jessica Stuart, Aline Homzy on violin, Andrew Downing on bass, Nick Fraser on drums, and Spectrum’s Artistic Director Ben Dietschi on soprano saxophone. For more information on the concert, and to purchase tickets, visit SpectrumMusic.ca. I hope to see you on Wednesday so you can hear it for yourself!