Letters from a Black Snake

By Jeanell Carrigan

Regular price $25.00 Sale

Songs by George Palmer and Ralph Vaughan Williams
Barry Ryan (baritone) and Jeanell Carrigan (piano)

Letters from a Black Snake [1-5] are based on words written in letters by Ned Kelly himself. Set masterfully by George Palmer providing a sympathetic picture of Ned Kelly as a literate, much-maligned and wronged, intelligent and sensitive man. The song cycle was commissioned by Ernst & Young, in 2007, to mark the opening of a major retrospective of the works of Sidney Nolan, who identified himself with Kelly and painted a series of pictures of episodes in Kelly's saga.

The first of the five songs is a short note written by Ned at the age of 15, seeking the help of a police sergeant in finding work and introduces himself as the persona ‘the black snake’ which is how the townspeople are beginning to characterise him.  The last is a letter to the Governor of Victoria, written hours before Ned was hanged, in which Ned asks for the release of his mother from prison and requests that he be buried in consecrated ground. The letters reveal Ned as an intelligent and resourceful man, despite a lack of formal education. He can be lyrical, even poetic, and the next moment almost incoherent with rage.
Cloudstreet [6-7] is a novel written in 1991 by Tim Winton. It tells the story of two families from working class backgrounds, the Pickles and the Lambs who happen to live together in a house in Perth, called Cloudstreet, over a period of twenty years.
Figures from an Urban Landscape [8-10]. A cycle of three songs depicting the city and suburbs of Sydney. Words by well renowned poets - Judith Wright, Bruce Dawe and Kenneth Slessor.
Songs of Travel [11-19], composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams to poems from the Robert Louis Stevenson collection of Songs of Travel and Other Verses, is a cycle of nine songs for baritone voice and piano.
CD cover painting by Sidney Nolan Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek, 1946. 91 x 121.7 cm.  National Gallery of Australia, Canberra with permission.
Wirr 093

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[1 - 5] Letters from a Black Snake
i   To Sergeant Babington
ii They know I have wronged
iii  Bullock Creek
iv  The Murder
v  In conclusion
[6]  Dolly, Dolly (from Cloudstreet)
[7]  Lester's Aria (from Cloudstreet)
[8-10] Figures from an Urban Landscape
The Beach (from The Surfer - Judith Wright)
Suburban Reverie (Bruce Dawe)
The Harbour (from Five Bells - Kenneth Slessor)
[11-19] Songs of Travel
The Vagabond
Let Beauty Awake
The Roadside Fire
Youth and Love
In Dreams
The Infinite Shining Heavens
Whither must I wander
Bright is the Ring of Words
I have trod the upward and downward slope