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"'Jeder Mensch' was the first song cycle that Kate Lindsey commissioned from me, in 2011. It was born out of an obsession that Kate and I have with the figure of Alma Mahler. This woman, who led such a fascinating life, left us with diaries that Kate and I pored over to find the texts for this song cycle. In them she sings of her firm system of beliefs that the eternal source of all strength is “in nature, in the earth, in people who don’t hesitate to cast away their existence for the sake of an idea.” She concludes: “they are the ones who can love.” Alma Mahler speaks of love, isolation and the many men she had in her life. Her words remain a compelling portrait of a brilliant woman forced to live vicariously through the men she loved and lost.
My setting of W.H. Auden’s 'Refugee Blues' vacillates between the complaining litany of traditional blues and fist-pounding anger to words such as: Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky; It was Hitler over Europe, saying, “They must die”: O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in his mind. The narrator repeats example after example of how refugees are excluded with nowhere to go. Today, as the Syrian people bear the brunt of the worst refugee crises since the Second World War, the words of Auden’s dark poem remain painfully relevant." (Mohammed Fairouz)