Dreams of Peace and Freedom

Part choral performance, part spoken word, Dreams of Peace and Freedom charts the development of the European Convention of Human Rights, reciting passages from one of its main champions, David Maxwell Fyfe, who was also a prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials. Choral song and piano accompany the readings and are composed with passages from the Magna Carta, Non Semper Imbres and Rupert Brooke’s War Sonnets which were favourites of Fyfe. Brooke’s poem, The Soldier, which features in the production, inspired Fife’s closing speech at Nuremberg.

The production feels like a sermon on Human Rights.

Performed at the C South venue in St Peter’s Church and conceived by Tom Blackmore, the production feels like a sermon on Human Rights. It’s an appropriate piece to be at the fringe on the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and serves as a reminder of the hardships fought and the rights that were fought for. Not that this performance is likely to appeal to the young. The production is a very academic one and audiences should be aware that this is not a night of various musical forms, but of choral arrangements in three parts for female voices interspersed with journal entries read aloud.

The melodies are well constructed and communicate a level of intrigue and satisfaction at the developing structure of the convention of Human Rights. A sermon like celebration if you will. The melodies are played well by composer and pianist Sue Casson and sung beautifully by the group. Most poems are read well by the young Robert Blackmore but it’s easy to get completely lost in sections due to the sheer level of information being communicated as well as with the musical accompaniment. At times they drown each other out rather than complement one another.

There was a lengthy and very dull introduction to proceedings which feels far too long and mostly unnecessary and if he hasn’t already, Tom Blackmore would do well to cut it down considerably and let the show begin much sooner.

This is not a show for the casual fringe audience but rather for those with a particular interest in the Nuremberg trials, Rupert Brooke’s War Sonnets, or original choral compositions.

Reviews by Dave House

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Performances

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The Blurb

This moving song cycle offers an intimate insight into the birth of modern human rights in Europe. As a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, Edinburgh-born David Maxwell Fyfe cross-examined Goering and subsequently became a champion of human rights and the European Convention. The story is told in words from his letters and speeches, interwoven with choral settings of Rupert Brooke and James Logie Robertson, poetry that inspired him. Conceived by Tom Blackmore with original music by Sue Casson, this is a timely and thought-provoking reminder of the seeds of an era-defining movement.