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Program note: Helen Gifford's "Spell Against Sorrow"

  • © Helen Gifford
  • Source: Produced for and provided by Melbourne Composer's League

Helen Gifford is a Melbourne composer who has written in as wide of forms, developing a special interest in theatre music. For twelve years she regularlycomposed music for the Melbourne Theatre Company productions, and later wrote two substantial music theatre pieces: Regarding Faustus (1983) and Iphegenia in Exile (1985).


In 1973 she received a Senior Composers Fellowship and in 1974 became Composer-in-Residence for the Australian Opera. In the 1990’s commissions came from Astra, the Seymour Group, Elision, Sydney Alpha Ensemble and ABC-FM. In 1995 she was granted a Composer Fellowship from the Australia Council.

This is the first of three poems by Kathleen Raine which Helen Gifford set to music expressly for Deborah Kayser and Geoffrey Morris.

Who will take away
Carry away sorrow
Bear away grief?
Stream wash away
Float away sorrow,
Flow away, bear away
Wear away sorrow,
Carry away grief.
Mist hide away
Shroud my sorrow,
Cover the mountains,
Overcloud remembrance,
Hide away grief.
Earth take away,
Make away sorrow,
Bury the lark’s bones
Under the turf,
Bury my grief.
Black crow tear away
Rend away sorrow,
Talon and beak
Pluck out the heart


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