Saturday 23 May 2020

A Leap in the Dark: Saturday 23rd May

A Leap in the Dark 16    8pm Saturday 23rd May 2020

Tonight’s Leap is about translation, both musical and textual. 

Helen Ottaway will premiere her modification of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and (later) translate one of her compositions from harpsichord to piano. Distinguished translators Frank Wynne and Daniel Hahne will lock linguistic horns in a translation slam; the poet Astrid Alben will talk us through the translation of syntactical illusions, Aea Varfis-van Warmelo  and David Collard will perform Apollinaire’s great modernist poem Zone in French and English and Aea will also offer some thoughts on poetry in translation.

There's no charge for taking part but please make a donation, no matter how large, to The Trussell Trust or your local equivalent outside the UK.

The Programme

1 Welcome from the Pale Usher

2 Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, a musical box strip modified by Helen Ottaway 

3 Translation slam with Frank Wynne and Daniel Hahne


4 Helen Ottaway performs ‘Dove’, the 4th movement of her ‘Suite of Somerset Apples’ 

Helen writes: 

Dove is a cider apple from the Glastonbury area. Last year I arranged this piece for 2 cellos and it was performed in a cider orchard very near Glastonbury. The original is for 2 high sweet registers of the double manual harpsichord, the lute stop on one manual and the 4’ stop on the other.  The parts played by the two hands are played in the same register – something tricky and not so successful if attempted on the piano.  So on Saturday I will transpose the lower part down an octave - a musical translation from harpsichord to piano.

5  Astrid Alben: Bridge or Banana - translating syntactical illusions

6 ‘Zone’ by Guillaume Apollinaire. A new translation performed by Aea 
   Varfis-van Warmelo and David Collard

7 Apollinaire’s ‘l’Avenir’ performed in French and English by Aea Varfis-
  van Warmelo

8 The Pale Usher signs off

The Company

Astrid Alben is a poet and translator. Astrid translates contemporary, experimental poetry from the Dutch and Flemish. Her translations are published in MPT, Jacket, Poetry International Rotterdam, Versopolis, Poetry Review and Poem. She is the translator of F. van Dixhoorn and the Dutch Poet Laureate Anne Vegter. Her latest collection is Plainspeak, published by Prototype in 2020.

Daniel Hahne is a writer, editor and translator, with some seventy books to his name. His work has won him the International Dublin Literary Award, the Blue Peter Book Award, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, among others. He is a past chair of the Society of Authors, and the trustee of a number of organisations that work with literature and free expression.

Michael Hughes is the author of two acclaimed novels: Countenance Divine (2016) and Country (2018) both published by John Murray, the latter winning the 2018 Hellenic Prize. Under his stage name Michael Colgan he recently appeared in the acclaimed HBO television drama Chernobyl.

Helen Ottaway is a composer and sound artist. She is lead artist with Artmusic, creating and producing collaborative, site-specific art work. She has written for many forces from string quartet to choir and orchestra and recently has started to include found sound in her work. Her writing for hand-punched and hand-wound musical box began during an artist’s residency in Sri Lanka in 2017. Back in the UK she continues to compose for and perform on the instrument.

Aea Varfis-van Warmelo is a trilingual actor and writer.

Frank Wynne is a literary translator. Born in Ireland, he  moved to France  in 1984 where he discovered a passion for language. He worked as a bookseller in Paris and again when he moved to London  in 1987. He translated and published comics and graphic novels and from 1996-2001 he worked in online media.

He began translating literature in the late 1990s, and in 2001 decided to devote himself to this full time. He has translated works by, among others, Michel Houellebecq, Frédéric Beigbeder, Ahmadou Kourouma, Boualem Sansal, Claude Lanzmann, Tómas Eloy Martínez and Almudena Grandes. His work has earned him a number of awards, including the  Scott Moncrieff Prize and the Premio Valle Inclán. His translation of Vernon Subutex was shortlisted for the Man Booker International 2018 and his translation of Animalia by Jean-Baptiste de Amo won the 2020 Republic of Consciousness prize. His website is

The Pale Usher is David Collard, who organises these gigs.

The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Our next Leap in the Dark is on Friday 29th May and will feature 

- music from composer Helen Ottaway  

- canto XI of Spring Journal by Jonathan Gibbs, read by Michael Hughes

- another yoga session with David ‘Guru Dave’ Holzer

- ‘The Binding Problem’ with psychologist and author Hugh Fulham-McQuillan 
   of Trinity College Dublin in conversation with novelists Kevin Davey 
   and Eley Williams

- Letter from Mexico City by Paulette Jonguitud

Please remember to make a donation to The Trussell Trust (or your local equivalent). Thank you.

Stay well!

The Pale Usher 

No comments:

Post a Comment