by New Worker correspondent
Progressive musicians paid tribute to the fight for Spain at a concert dedicated to their memory last weekend. Piano virtuoso Michael Chant and contemporary musician Hugh Shrapnel, together with many other artists, assembled in London’s historic Bridewell Hall for an evening of music, song and poetry celebrating the stand against war and fascism of the heroes of the Spanish Republic and the International Brigade.
The hall, originally part of the St Bride’s printers’ library and polytechnic founded in 1894, was for decades used by Fleet Street print chapels and other nearby union branches for mass meetings and strike rallies. Now the renovated hall is home for broader cultural events. But last Saturday it returned to its roots with a concert organised by revolutionary musicians who had worked with the late Cornelius Cardew and the cutting edge Scratch Orchestra and People’s Liberation Music group back in the 1970s that later developed into the Progressive Cultural Association.
The main work, Song of Songs, written by Michael Chant, who also organised the event, was inspired by a poem by T E Nicholas, the Welsh communist also known as Niclas y Glais, who was a founder member of the old CPGB and a life-long revolutionary and struggler for peace.
Hugh Shrapnel and the De Madrugada (The Dawn) ensemble performed two pieces in memory of the International Brigaders and all those who fell in the battle to defeat Hitler and the Axis in the Second World War, while pianist Robert Coleridge played a composition dedicated to John Cornford, the communist poet who volunteered to fight in Spain and was killed in action in 1936.
A concert of music by Cornelius Cardew will take place at the Conway Hall, in central London, on Saturday 17th December to mark the 30th anniversary of his death. The communist musician and composer was killed on 13th December 1981 by a hit-and-run driver shortly after he had organised an anti-fascist concert to mark the 45th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War and the Battle of Cable Street.