This year’s Headingley Lit Fest focuses on the topic ‘ The Edge’. Literary figures have been challenged with the task of expressing how ‘The Edge’ plays a significant role in their work and the ways in which they express this. On Wednesday 8th March, I attended the fascinating event, I Am Alive (I Guess).
As I took my seat at the Heart Centre in Headingley, I was greeted by a glittering, yet tranquil scene. The performance area was framed beautifully by clusters of dazzling fairy lights, illuminating the space cluttered with an array of musical instruments. Peter Spafford and Richard Ormrod, who together make up Schwa, awaited us, accompanied by singer Jacqui Wicks.
The performance area was framed beautifully by clusters of dazzling fairy lights, illuminating the space cluttered with an array of musical instruments.
The trio’s enchanting performance opened with Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘I am alive, I guess’ set to sombre music that captured a sense of personal discovery and what it feels like to truly live. The first half of their performance guided us through a journey of the various experiences we encounter through life and an awakening of the soul. They transformed works by poets such as T. S Eliot, Robert Browning and Edna St Vincent Millay into beautiful songs flowing with emotion and prosperity. The musicians intertwined song and spoken word throughout their performance, creating a constant rise and fall in tension that had the audience captivated from start to finish.
In the second half of their performance, the group showcased a selection of songs from Schwa’s new album Threshold. These more upbeat and lively songs gained active interaction with the audience. Jacqui Wicks, on vocals, left the audience speechless with the power of her voice and the precision of her harmonies. Instrumentalist, Richard Ormrod, stunned us with his endless musical talent, playing ten different instruments to an exceptional standard. And Peter Spafford illustrated both his musical and literary expertise, making the transition from each song instinctive and continuous.
Jacqui Wicks, on vocals, left the audience speechless with the power of her voice and the precision of her harmonies.
Not only did the performers create diverse and intensely emotional scenes, but they made it possible for the audience to engage more fully with the work of great poets, creating an expansive and dream- like world in the space of a couple of hours. Whether you have an interest in poetry or not, you will be sure to come away feeling inspired and alive.
Image courtesy of Leeds Inspired