|Baritone Bradley Travis in rehearsal as Siegfried Sassoon|
(Photos are all from a rehearsal the other day.)
JD: Please could you explain in what way you’re related to Siegfried Sassoon? What awareness of his poetry and his significance did you have when growing up? And what does he mean to you today?
SB: My grandfather, Richard Gatty had a sister called Hester. She married Siegfried Sassoon in 1933, 15 years after the end of WW1. Unfortunately I never met Siegfried as he died in 1967, just before my second birthday. So I have no memories of him but can recall a family photograph of him in my grandparents house in North Yorkshire. Before she died, my grandmother, who had known Siegfried from the 1930s onwards, assisted the author Max Egremont with his Sassoon biography. My mother and aunt (who are both coming to Silver Birch) knew Siegfried in his later life and remember him vividly.
|Bradley Travis (Siegfried) and Sam Furness (Jack)|
JD: How long have you been singing in the Garsington Adult Community Chorus? What attracted you to join it and what do you enjoy about it?
SB: My wife Amanda is the Accommodation Co-Ordinator for Garsington and when she heard that Garsington were going to put on a Community Opera in 2013 she encouraged me to take part in it, as she thought they may need an extra tenor. Fortunately they did. The whole experience was amazing - hard work with many long rehearsals and often taking you well out of your comfort zone! The feeling of achievement, with relief and adrenaline after the performances of Road Rage is something I will never forget - and the main reason I had no hesitation in auditioning for Silver Birch.
|Sam Furness as Jack, with "Chloe" and "Leo"|
JD: What does it mean to you to be in Silver Birch?
SB: Just very pleased to be involved again. I can't speak highly enough of the people involved at all levels in bringing the production together.
SB: For me, the chief challenges are getting the music right technically (it's not easy) and then being able to deliver it on the stage along with everyone else. The reward is the feeling of satisfaction when it all goes as it's supposed to!
|Composer Roxanna Panufnik talks to the company|
JD: Our hero, Jack, takes inspiration from Sassoon in terms of his daring, his disillusionment and in the end his decision that he must help those whose suffering he shares. Do you think the opera and the production is capturing - if tangentially, perhaps - anything of the spirit and/or journey that Sassoon underwent?
SB: Yes I would say it does - in a very moving way.
JD: We chose several poems by Sassoon for inclusion. What do you think of those choices and do you like the way they have been used?
SB: The poems seem to fit seamlessly into the opera. 'Everyone Sang' was the first Sassoon poem to deeply affect me, so I am delighted it has been given a special place at the end of the opera.
JD: Are you looking forward to opening night??
SILVER BIRCH IS AT GARSINGTON OPERA, 28-30 JULY. RETURNS ONLY!
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