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The Earth Child

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Event description

The concert

An evening of beautifully performed songs of NZ poetry to celebrate acclaimed writer Katherine Mansfield and the Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.  Featuring the mesmerising soprano voice of rising star Natasha Te Rupe-Wilson (back briefly from performing in Europe for this concert) and stunning piano played by NZTrio member and internationally in-demand Somi Kim.  This is an evening not to be missed for poetry and music lovers alike, brought to you at drastically reduced ticket prices thanks to Phantom Billstickers and Creative Communities Scheme in Auckland.

This special premiere concert is offered as a tribute to Katherine Mansfield in the centenary year of her death. She was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis in December 1917 and died on 9 January 1923.  The evening features poetry by Mansfield set to music by acclaimed NZ composer, Janet Jennings, along with songs created by Jennings from the poetry of another NZ writer, a contemporary of Mansfield's, Ursula Bethell.  To complete the performance, Te Rupe-Wilson sings the much loved La chanson d'Eve with lyrics by another of their contemporaries, Charles van Lerberghe and composed by Gabriel Fauré.

The poets from Aotearoa

Katherine Mansfield (1888–1923)

In spite of her conviction that ‘I shall not be “fashionable” long’, Katherine Mansfield’s work has never been out of print in the 100 years since her death. Born and raised in Wellington, she spent most of her short adult life in Europe. Her musical abilities, aspirations as a cellist, and her relationships with cellist Arnold Trowell and his brother Garnet have been researched in recent years by New Zealand scholar Dr Martin Griffiths. Mansfield’s six month stay in Bavaria in 1909 (a time of crisis in her tumultuous personal life), during which she wrote the Earth Child poems, provided the material for her first collection of short stories, In a German Pension. Until 1914 she published stories and poems in Rhythm and The Blue Review, edited by John Middleton Murry, whom she married in 1918. Three collections of stories were published during her lifetime and two (The Dove’s Nest and Something Childish) posthumously. Her recollections of early family life in New Zealand form the basis of many of her finest stories, including several in her third collection, A Garden Party and Other Stories, published in 1922. Mansfield spent her final weeks at the Gurdjieff Institute at Fontainebleau, where, during a visit from Murry on 9 January 1923, she suffered a fatal pulmonary haemorrhage.

Ursula Bethell (1874–1945)

Like Katherine Mansfield, Ursula Bethell confronted the tension between her English origins and sympathies and her New Zealand milieu. Born in England, she spent her early years in New Zealand before secondary schooling firstly in England and later in Switzerland where she studied music and painting.

Deeply religious, on returning to England in 1895 she joined an Anglican community called the Grey Ladies and involved herself in social work. During the Great War she worked at the New Zealand Soldiers’ Club and assisted with children’s organisations. After several years of living and working in England, she returned

to New Zealand and settled in a newly built cottage in the Cashmere Hills of Christchurch with her dear friend Effie Pollen. She wrote most of her poetry during a ten-year period of intense happiness before Effie’s sudden death in 1934, shortly after Ursula’s 60th birthday. Although she wrote little poetry after this time, Caxton Press published two further volumes of her poems, Time and Place, in 1936, and, in 1939, Day and Night Poems, 1924 - 1934.

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