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Waiting for the Barbarians

Sheet Music: Score

Waiting for the Barbarians / Andrew Ford.

by Andrew Ford (2011)


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Most poetry is either written in the first person or, at least, from the poet's point of view, so it seldom makes much sense to have it sung by a choir. But 'Waiting for the Barbarians' by C. P. Cavafy is that rare thing: a poetic crowd scene. It needs a chorus.

The Greek poet Constantine Cavafy (1863 - 1933) wrote 'Waiting for the Barbarians' in 1904. It is not a poem that will date. We will always feel disappointed in our politicians, and there will always be those among us who feel that anything - even capitulation to barbarians - is better than the status quo.

There are several good English translations of the poem, including one by John Mavrogordato and a recent one by Daniel Mendelsohn, but when I came to look for the version to set to music they all seemed a little too flat and formal for my needs. This was Cavafy's detached style, but it seemed to me that, sung, the words might sound a little odd. So I decided to make my own version, putting in more repetition (Cavafy already had some), adding a few colloquialisms and gingering up the tone with a little emotion.

Published by: Australian Music Centre — 1 facsimile score (37p. -- A4 (portrait))

Difficulty: Medium

Duration: 9 mins

Dedicated to Barry Jones

Commissioned by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Chorus, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

First performance by Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Graham Abbott at Vespers & Waiting for the Barbarians (St Patrick's Cathedral, Parramatta) on 20 Jul 2012

Including programme notes and full text.

Typeset edition.

ISMN: 979-0-720121-05-5

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