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Songs For The Four Parts Of The Night

We loved this show and played it on and off for ten years. It’s a duo song-theatre experience created and performed by Claire Hughes and I and directed by Basque director Elena Armengod.

It all began with Claire and I singing duo songs in my front room, some I had composed and others from Corsica, Bulgaria and Bolivia. The performance is shaped by the sections of a poem by the C9th Japanese poet Ono no Komachi that charts a shamanic journey through dusk, the great night, the small hours and dawn. It is hard to describe as each audience member’s interpretation of the story was unique. It went something like this…

Two women arrive at dusk, they carry some food, wine and some magically hidden hand-held lights. The space is basked in candle light, perhaps it is a graveyard, certainly the spirits of some who have passed on are present. The song cycle takes them into the dark and towards the brilliance and wildness of the great night. Then comes the despair of loss in the small hours and the dark night of the soul. The wisdom of the earth is there, and thanks to her, a reemerging is brought by spring rain, and finally they walk in beauty into the dawn. 

“Singing is perhaps an inadequate word to describe the beautiful, dramatic and varied vocal work that elevates their new piece”
The Guardian

We toured in in the UK, Belgium, Spain, Colombia and the Ukraine 1986-96. Later we created a site specific version for Ewenny Priory in Wales (where Brian Tarr’s photos were taken) and another for Salamanca Cathedral in Spain.

Helen Chadwick and Claire Hughes

Production Team
Elena Armengod, Maggie Russell and Brian Tarr.

The song Deep Shadows, with words by Tagore, is on the album AMAR

The Team
Claire Hughes was also a co-creator of  The Singing Bones with Sally Pomme Clayton and I.
We are planning to run some workshops and perform together again soon.

Photographs: Brian Tarr