'Grief'- a new song cycle by Kate Lawson Gould Premiere Once in a while there comes a gem that enlightens you through the eyes and ears of a composer, their thoughts and feelings exposed like never before. Like this Song Cycle written by Kate Lawson Gould, a work that explains the process of grief (and some). This was a work that didn't come easy for Kate as her reference for this project was through the passing of both her parents. Although, the piece was written as a generic reference with absolutely nothing to 'hang a hat on', so to speak. No person, place or thing is used so it cleverly disguises itself as an attachment to anything you want. Kate tells us: "...I had wanted to write a song cycle for Hamish for quite a while and knew it needed to be something that included not only sufficient virtuosity but breadth and depth of emotional range. I contemplated this on and off for months until one day the thought came to write a cycle about grief. I was quite resistant at first as grief is such a sensitive and difficult subject – almost taboo. However, the more I thought about it, the more I considered the journeys through grief in various forms I had taken myself, the more I realised that this was exactly the type of topic I needed. We all experience grief and it is a highly personal journey. I was aware of the five stages of grief in psycho-analysis, and I had certainly felt these powerfully myself. Strangely however, the anger and depression of grief had not for me been so much a part of the loss of loved ones, but I will come to this later. We went through an extremely difficult time financially and emotionally when we almost ended up homeless due to some bad decisions and a period of very little employment around the birth of our sixth child. We had been working passionately towards a goal and throwing all my energy into it, whilst trying to stay ahead financially and care for our family but everything fell apart, and so did I. We were rescued by the kindness of friends who took us in, but for months our family was split and we had no idea where we would end up. I think for me, life changed during that period in a way that has taken years to recover from. My real grief, my anger and depression, was in the loss of faith in myself, in life and even in God. When I was at university I had a wonderful friend, who had lived a long life and became not only a friend and mentor but almost like a grandmother to me. We became very close and when I heard some time after leaving university that she had passed, for a while I was overwhelmed with grief and sadness. I went and sat quietly alone for a while. Suddenly, I felt her presence right there in the room with me. I realised that she had not really left, just changed form and that all I loved about her was even more present with me than when she was in a physical body. All my grief lifted away. I felt the same thing when my Mum passed away – I knew she had gone, I felt it, as if she’d travelled from London to Melbourne to say goodbye. Hamish however was grief stricken. He adored his grandmother. So we talked about her all the time and I told him that she was everywhere now – she was in the wattle that she loved so much and the magnolia trees, in the song of the kookaburra, and in vegemite and pavlova. We held the joyful memory of her in all the things we knew she loved the most.
It was these experiences that helped me to write the final song in this cycle, transcendence. In my experience, there is in fact one more stage to grief, in which we come to realise that our loved ones are not lost entirely, but present in our thoughts, our memories, our hearts and in every expression of joy and love we witness. The cycle is a journey which in no way negates the pain of loss, but which hopefully also journeys through that pain into a place of peace and transcendence. Kate Lawson Gould

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