The Weight of Light – Hope 103.2

The Weight of Light

By Stephen O'DohertyWednesday 11 Jul 2018Open House Interviews

Listen: Stephen O’Doherty in conversation with composer Dr James Humberstone. Photo: Premier performance.

It was four years in the making, but Sydney composer James Humberstone and writer Nigel Featherstone hope their song cycle will help bring healing to people suffering isolation and depression as the result of traumatic experiences of many kinds. 

The Weight of Light was commissioned by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium. Nigel Featherstone’s libretto depicts a soldier, having completed his tour of duty in Afghanistan, returning to life on his family’s farm.

His return is bitter-sweet as he tries to deal with both the traumatic effects of war and the complexities of the life he left on hold. There’s bitter-sweet news to cope with. News his family kept from him while he was away.

Dr James Humberstone

Composer James Humberstone told Open House audiences during the premier season in Canberra and Goulburn found it deeply moving and relatable.

“One lady said ‘I have a husband who is a police officer and has been through exactly these kinds of things and this is exactly what it’s been like for his family. I cant tell you how much that spoke to me’. We had examples of that again and again,” he said.

He said that by expressing musically one family’s striving for hope and redemption that he hopes will be helpful to audiences.

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Dr Humberstone is also Senior Lecturer in Music at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He said that art performs a significant function by providing touch-stones for our own emotions.

“Art allows us to find other ways, not just words, of saying these indescribable things that pass between us,” he said. 

The Weight of Light will be performed at the Sydney Conservatorium on July 27th and 1pm and 7pm.

The part of the soldier will be sung by Michael Lampard, with pianist Alan Hicks.  

To listen to Stephen’s conversation with James Humberstone click the red play button at the top of the page, or you can subscribe to Open House podcasts in iTunes and they will appear in your feed. 

The audio extracts in the podcast were recorded by 666ABC Canberra, and are used here with thanks. 


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