A unique musical performance of Yeats’ poetry

Mary McEvoy.
Mary McEvoy.

Irish theatre director, Michael Scott, has composed a new song cycle exploring the poetry of WB Yeats.

This unique musical interpretation of Yeats’ work will be performed at the Millennium Forum next Thursday 28th January.

Acrtess Mary McEvoy, best known for playing Biddy in RTE’s ‘Glenroe’, joins Des Cave, Anthony Norton and Sandra Oman, in a speaking part.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ she explained, “I read the more female centred poems. I have performed in other poetry centred productions but this is the first that includes music. So I’m a newbie of sorts.

“However, I’ve seen the piece before and it is amazing. So I’m hoping to put my own stamp on it. That’s the thing about theatre, and acting, the same thing can be so different in everyone’s eyes.

“I’m just thrilled to be a part of this piece.”

Yet the process is one that Mary is taking her time with.

“I’ve been going through the poems and taking some time to reconnect with Yeats - he was such an extraordinary wordsmith.

“So I’ve been reading the poetry intensely and hoping to get out of them everything that he put in.”

She continued, “Yeats in general; there’s such a reverence to his poems, so I’m trying to see them as an ordinary person would, as well as putting something of myself into them.

“In some ways the meaning of the poetry can look obscure but when you read them in detail. Yeats is actually just putting in feelings that every human being feels at some point.

“And I remember studying Yeats for my Leaving Cert, and it’s the kind of poetry that grows with you; and you grow with it.

“With a lifetime behind me I now see a different side to the poetry that I did not see when I was at school.

“But he was a remarkable, intricate poet.”

So what can people expect from this unusual production? Mary explained, “It’s a very unique production - and I’m personally not into modern classical music but this is extraordinary.

“I would say it’s a complex piece - it’s certainly not singalong - but for anyone with an interest in modern classical music, this is a must see.

“It’s also something different for someone interested in poetry.”

She finished, “I’m looking forward to getting back to Derry, it’s such a cultured city and I’ve no doubt they’ll enjoy this production.”

‘Songs From The Swans At Coole’ marks the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth and was a painstaking creative process for the director, Michael Scott, who said, “I tried not to force the words into a particular time structure because they are alive; they breathe and respond to the human voice. So it has been a long and painstaking process to find a musical language that can be as elastic as the words.”

The poetry will be performed by two opera singers who sing the new musical settings of selected poems in an operatic and classical style with a traditional Irish orchestra.

Poems in this song cycle include ‘Innisfree’, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’, ‘When You are Old’, ‘No Second Troy’, ‘September 1913’ and ‘Easter 1916’.

Tickets for ‘Songs From The Swans At Coole’ are now available from the Box Office. Telephone 71 264455 or visit

www.millennium forum.co.uk for bookings.