Author faces the music

Author Marina Lewyska in conversation with Ensemble 360 at Music in the Round, Oct 17 2013
Author Marina Lewyska in conversation with Ensemble 360 at Music in the Round, Oct 17 2013

In a new departure, Music in the Round’s Autumn Series is introducing a series called Conversation Pieces which will blend the spoken word with live music.

Sheffield-based best-selling Marina Lewycka is the first participant at the Crucible Studio next Thursday (October 17) when the author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian will talk about her love of music.

Ensemble 360 will play a sequence of pieces chosen in consultation with the writer breaking off to talk about the importance of her Ukrainian heritage and the experience of performing and listening to music, especially chamber music.

Marina Lewycka said: “I’m looking forward to discussing how creating music and writing are similar, and the ways in which they are different. As a writer I am slightly envious of musicians because they can go for pure emotions, whereas we have to hunt down stories and characters.”

As a child she took piano, violin and recorder lessons and like so many has come to regret not keeping it going so now her musical experience is restricted to listening.

Unlike some authors she does not employ background music when writing. “I like complete silence when I am working,” she says. “I have music on when I am doing housework or driving and it tends to be classical music because I find it more relaxing and it can affect the emotions so directly.”

Thursday’s programme comprises Bach’s Sonata in E flat for oboe and continuo, Prokofiev’s Five Mélodies, Poulenc’s Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano, Szymanowski’s Nocturne and Tarantella and Chopin’s Piano Trio in G minor Op.8.

“I am particularly interested in Prokofiev who was actually Ukrainian although he is classed as Russian and his relationship with Stalin. “After the Russian revolution he left and lived in America for a long time and then returned in 1936 and was revered. But when it became the Soviet Union he was accused of formalism which was considered anti-democratic and was forced to compose Stalinist works.”

The author is currently involved in another musical project, an opera based on her second novel, Two Caravans, is currently running at the King’s Head in North London.

The young composer Guy Harries and librettist Ace McCarron won the Flourish prize for writing a new opera, and their prize was the funding to have their work performed.

Though inevitably some of the book’s narrative has been left out, the pace and humour has been maintained, she says.

“There’s a line, ‘Sheffield, where is Sheffield?’ and the reply, ‘It is paradise’ always gets a laugh.”