Crimson Verse

I am thrilled that John Holland-Avery and Hector Leung will be giving a third performance of my piece Crimson Verse tomorrow at the Royal Northern College of Music as part of John’s final recital (Mmus).

Group photo.jpg

The piece sets an extract (shown below) from a text by Paul Adrian called Kiyōko and the Maple, a tragic myth which tells the story of a young poet who in an attempt to win the affection of his love, paints Japanese characters or ‘Kanjii’ onto the bustling leaves of a maple tree. Unimpressed with his efforts, the Shoguns daughter casts him aside and he retreats into exile. Towards the end of the piece the characters can be heard coming to life in the voice as the trees leaves are read.

Crimson Verse was premiered as part of the Leeds Lieder festival on the 2nd April 2016 by John and Hector, a concert which featured works by other conservatoire composition students from across the country (


‘For three days Kiyōko lived in the red maple

It swelled across the shoguns garden

Ink-stone wet with mist or spit

He painted a single dark character on each leaf


Until the tree was one shuffling poem of love for the shoguns daughter

They sat an hour reading the tree

A thousand poems came and went’

–          Paul Adrian


 The words spoken at the end of the piece translated from Japanese Kanji are;

Fire (火)

Water (水)

Wind (風)

Wisdom (年)

Light (灯)

Renew (改)

Happiness (晰)

Clarity (幸)


You can hear a recording of the piece below, taken from an RNCM composer’s concert on the 15th March 2016.

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