This week I have been busy distributing scores for an upcoming creative development week to be spent at WAAPA on the theatre piece The Big Sea, with director Frances Barbe. This has involved a deep dive into Frances’ writings in and around the time of her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. The result has been three small aria sketches to be performed by Australian soprano Emma Matthews and members of the the Darlington Quartet, Semra Lee-Smith (violin), Sally Boud (viola) and Jon Tooby (cello). Inspired by music Frances chose in a playlist of her favourite operatic arias, as well as instrumental music from more disparate sources (film and world music), I have tried to stay completely true to the text as it appears in Frances’ diary— editing words (cutting some text), but never re-writing; I felt this approach was important in order to remain faithful to the realism of Frances’ journey, her diagnosis, her “decision fatigue” and her survival. It’s an intensely personal story, and I feel very privileged to have been given access to these sources.

This emotional and often turbulent textual beginning has given rise to equally emotive music, and I have also begun work with Kieran Kenderessey from KK Audio Ninja on some sound design for the show, which has included Frances’ own recitation. I am very much looking forward to hearing the results of our recorded workshop showings from early May.