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Confusion, Reflection, Joy: A Radio Drama in Sonata Form

Three movements, each exploring our location at Dartington Hall as somewhere where time slips between different years, decades, centuries. In August, when musicians gather for the Summer School, as you wander around the medley of medieval and modernist buildings, different music seeps out of every door and window. The musicians and audiences bring and share memories of their visits here over the years, and make new ones.

Participants in the Summer School’s Radio Drama course, run by Soundart Radio, walked, listened and collected. Their studio was the whole of the Dartington Estate, their script was words found on gravestones amongst the ancient yew trees, and their scores were signs around the buildings. Many fragments were then pulled together into three movements. Confusion explores the problems of collective music making in a Covid wary environment. Reflection provides space to mourn and remember. Finally, Joy brings together old memories and new music with attempts at happiness.

Dartington Summer School began in 1948 and has only been cancelled once, in 2020. The planned events would have coincided with Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, and a new work, “Joy” was commissioned for choir and string quartet. In 2021, amongst sudden changes, partial closures and socially distanced outdoor music, Joy was rehearsed and performed for the first time. Snippets of Joy, by John Barber and Hazel Gould, pop up here, as well as many other half formed performances, captured whilst wandering around the site.

Special thanks to Sara Mohr-Pietsch.