Our Music Producer, Valda Silvy, has been part of The Joan since before it was even a place. Our 25th Anniversary is special for all of us, but particularly for Valda, who has been there from the start and has so passionately worked to position arts and culture in Penrith.
It’s therefore fitting that La Stupenda – A Voice Eternal has been produced by Valda. It truly is a concert 25 years in the making, and it will most definitely be an unforgettable experience for all who are lucky enough to see it and share our celebrations.
What we want to tell you about today is the story behind its production, because it’s very lovely in itself.
Valda was captivated by a Worsworth poem, The Solitary Reaper. The connection to the famous Lakeland poet stems from a love of and connection to nature, and a focus on imagination and emotion – something shared by both Valda and Dame Joan. Wordsworth was often called a ‘nature poet’ because of his emphasis on the connection between humans and the natural world – something that is reflected in Valda’s choice of Peter Sculthorpe’s ‘Earth Cry’ as part of the La Stupenda experience. He became widely successful and was named poet laureate of England in 1843.
Take a little time today to ponder on his words:
The Solitary Reaper
Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.
No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.
Will no one tell me what she sings?–
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?
Whate’er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;–
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.