Press Release July 2020
‘WHO IS SO SAFE AS WE?’
Rupert Brooke – War Sonnet II/Dreams of Peace & Freedom Part IX
English Cabaret release their recording of Dreams of Peace & Freedom to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 100 days
that secured Europe’s freedom under the law
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2020 marks 70 years since the forging and signing of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the ECHR). English Cabaret tells the story of the journey that David Maxwell Fyfe made from prosecuting at Nuremberg to championing
and drafting the Convention in Strasbourg.
Tom Blackmore, artistic director of English Cabaret writes:
In the summer of 1950 the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe and Council of Ministers, inspired by the Universal Declaration, forged the European Convention on Human Rights. David Maxwell Fyfe and Pierre-Henri Teitgen were styled the ‘artisans’ of the Convention in their roles as Chairman and Rapporteur of the Legal Committee of the Assembly.The Convention was opened for signature on November 4th 1950, and the UK was one of the first to sign.
I think that for Maxwell Fyfe, the Convention was the product of the stream of natural law springing up in Dornoch and flowing into the river of natural justice in Edinburgh rolling from Liverpool to Oxford to London and finally into the continent after the Second World War to find form in the Convention. It is that mythical stream, the poetry in Fyfe’s mind and the music in the landscape that inspire Dreams of Peace & Freedom
This Convention has kept the citizens of the UK safe in their neighbourhood for seventy years, during an unprecedented period of continental peace and prosperity. There have been wars, but no great continental wars, and there have been recessions but no great depression……until now.
Composer Sue Casson continues:
2020 is a year of anniversaries. We’ve already celebrated VE Day (admittedly in a lower key style than we might have hoped), recognised the anniversary of Dunkirk and plans are afoot to mark the Battle of Britain, in whatever way current circumstances allow. We’ve remembered the war – but what of the peace?
The lack of worldwide aggression has been so much a part of our modern lives it’s easy to relegate it to ‘history’. But had not a group of people, from all over Europe, taken time after WWII to analyse the evidence that caused it, and taken joint steps to draft a treaty to try to stop it ever happening again, we might not have been so fortunate. That too is surely worth celebrating.
We are uniquely placed to do this. At the heart of our work is a song cycle Dreams of Peace & Freedom, which tells this story through inspirational quotations from the speeches, letters and autobiography of David Maxwell Fyfe, threaded through musical settings of poetry he found inspiring. The melody infuses his chosen poetic words with another unspoken dimension – emotion to reinforce the story, rather as in his speeches,
the poetry he regularly quoted, heightened the tenor of his legal argument.
To deliver this recording, we have been delighted to work with Lana Banana, one of Kent's leading studios, whose expert production team have earned their well-deserved reputation for excellence over the last 30 years. Their art lies in working with real detail - recording real sound, real voices, real instruments, and real musicians which was why they proved a natural partner for us. You can find out more at www.lanabananastudios.co.uk
Robert and Lily, great grandchildren of Maxwell Fyfe, who tell the story, conclude:
The shock of a global pandemic unsurprisingly brings fear, and with fear comes the feeling that we should hide ourselves away. However, in the hysteria of the moment, our generation is not just missing out, but also missing important signals that are changing our world. Governmental disruption has turned our minds away from what matters, and, drip by drip, our protections, rights and freedoms are being taken away. This story reminds us of their importance as we countdown to the 70th anniversary and encourage others to join us in engaging with historical events that have created the last 70 peaceful years.