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Album tribute to the life and work of Katherine Mansfield

The Earth Child album featuring vocalist, Natasha Te Rupe-Wilson and pianist, Somi Kim
Katherine Mansfield remains one of New Zealand’s most well-known writers, despite her life being cut cruelly short by terminal illness. To commemorate the centenary of her untimely death on 9th Janua

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In 1910, when she was just 22 years old, Katherine Mansfield sent a collection of 36 poems, The Earth Child, to London publisher Elkin Matthews. Written during a prolonged stay in Bavaria during the second half of 1909, Matthews rejected the collection, and all but nine of the poems remained unknown until discovered in 2015 in the Newberry Library, Chicago, by Mansfield scholar Dr Gerri Kimber (Visiting Professor at the University of Northampton, UK, and Chair of the Katherine Mansfield Society from 2010–2020).  The Earth Child poems as a whole represent some of the finest poems Mansfield wrote, showcasing the development of her maturing lyrical voice. The collection also reveals how, just when she was embarking on her professional career as a short story writer in London, she was also taking herself seriously as a poet. Had the collection been published, Mansfield might have trod a much more assured – and renowned – poetic path.

Katherine Mansfield was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1917 and died on 9 January 1923 at just 34 years of age.  This album is offered as a tribute to her work and life.  A collaboration between composer Janet Jennings, who conceived the album, and Wayne Laird from Atoll Records saw the album recorded earlier in 2022, when soprano Natasha Te Rupe-Wilson was back in New Zealand during a short break from engagements in Europe.  Jennings was delighted to collaborate with Te Rupe-Wilson and pianist Somi Kim, to record the album.

Jennings is one of New Zealand’s leading composers, with her music performed internationally, and aired regularly on RNZ Concert.  Kim is one of our most accomplished pianists, performing regularly in solo concerts, in collaboration with other musicians and in the much acclaimed NZTrio.  Te Rupe-Wilson is an emerging talent on the international opera stage, and is in demand both in Europe and New Zealand.

Alongside ‘The Earth Child’ songs, the album also features Gabriel Fauré’s song cycle ‘La chanson d’Ève’ (The Song of Eve), Op 95. The poems were written by Charles van Lergerghe just one year after Mansfield wrote her ‘Earth Child’ collection, inspired in part by a garden outside Florence, where he imagined Eve coming to life in the Garden of Eden without Adam. Her identification with the rose permeates the songs. She tastes the forbidden golden fruit but, instead of being punished, sees the world anew. Fauré’s song cycle ends with Eve quietly accepting death and welcoming her return into the earth.  WhileFaure’s cycle has been recorded often, Laird believes this is one of the best.  He says of Te Rupe-Wilson, “her voice really is something special”.

 

In 1924, the year of Gabriel Fauré’s death, Ursula Bethell was living in Christchurch, creating and writing about the garden that is the subject of her entertaining 1929 publication, From a Garden in the Antipodes. These poems form the third song cycle on the album, ‘Sit Down With Me a While’. The garden of her poems is symbolic, a microcosm, an Eden in which she comically tries to maintain order although assaulted by weeds and pests, her ‘host of abominable enemies’.

The Earth Child album will be available from 9th January at Marbeck’s in Auckland, either in store or online and on Spotify, 7Digital and other online music sites. 

Contact details: 
Jenni Murphy-Scanlon, PACT, 027 5541320, pactnz@gmail.com

Written by

Strategies Direct Ltd

22 Dec 2022