Rommi Smith: A New Response to Amazing Grace

‘I am absolutely thrilled to be part of AG250: working in collaboration with celebrated composer and musician, Roderick Williams, the renown Chineke! ensemble – and dynamic project partners: The Stables and Cowper & Newton Museum. This project is my third collaboration with Williams. Previous collaborations include: Not Yet Here – a creative response to Beethoven’s To My Love Afar Off – which was commissioned by the Australian Festival of Chamber Music, as part of Beethoven 250.’

 

Rommi at the Cowper & Newton Museum Dec 2022

As part of the research process for the new commission, Rommi visited and spent time in Olney in the heat of July 2022 and the snow of December 2022. Inspiration was found from:

Amazing Grace 250 and town events

Visiting the Museum to delve into the history of John Newton

Experiencing the landscape and life of the area and talking to local residents

Writing workshops with classes at Olney Middle School

Interviewing 23 people whose lives are connected to Amazing Grace and Amazing Grace 250.

After Rommi has completed the writing, Roderick Williams will then himself be inspired by those words, images and emotions to create the orchestral score. 

The premier of the new composition will be played by the Chineke! ensemble and local choir on Saturday 22nd July 2023.

To find out more about Amazing Grace 250

To find out how the idea of the new commission to mark 250 years of the hymn, Amazing Grace came about

To find out about Roderick Williams and his approach to the new music for Forever?

To hear one of the songs from Forever? sung by the AG250 community choir

To read all 10 poems which became Forever? written by Rommi Smith 

Rommi Smith is an award-winning poet, playwright, theatre-maker, performer and librettist. A three-time BBC Writer-in-residence, she is the inaugural British Parliamentary Writer-in-Residence and inaugural 21st century Poet-in-Residence for Keats’ House, Hampstead. A Visiting Scholar at City University New York (CUNY), she has presented her research and writing at institutions including: THE SEGAL THEATRE, THE SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE and CITY COLLEGE NEW YORK. Rommi’s performance at THE SCHWERNER WRITERS’ SERIES in New York was at the invitation of Tyehimba Jess, Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry.

 

Rommi Smith © Lizzie Coombes

Rommi is a Doctor of Philosophy in English and Theatre. Her academic writing was first published by NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PRESS as part of the groundbreaking book IMAGINING QUEER METHODS (2019). Her poetry is included in publications ranging from OUT OF BOUNDS (Bloodaxe) to MORE FIYA (Canongate).

She is recipient of a HEDGEBROOK Fellowship (Cottage: Waterfall, 2014) and is a winner of THE NORTHERN WRITERS’ PRIZE for Poetry 2019 (chosen by the poet Don Paterson). She was recently awarded a prestigious CAVE CANEM fellowship in the US. Rommi was selected a SPHINX30 playwright; a prestigious programme of professional mentoring for – and by – contemporary women playwrights, led by legendary company, SPHINX THEATRE.

Rommi is a contributor to BBC radio programmes including: FRONT ROW, THE VERB and the radio documentary INVISIBLE MAN: PARABLE FOR OUR TIMES?, marking 70 years since the publication of Ralph Ellison’s iconic novel.

Rommi is poet-in-residence for the WORDSWORTH TRUST, Grasmere.

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