The earliest of days: Nancy Gaffield reflects on the first play-through

Nancy Gaffield

Nancy Gaffield

On 28th March, I attended the first Tokaido Road production meeting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It was my first opportunity to meet the team. Of course I had already met Caroline Clegg, Director, and Nicola LeFanu, Composer, and Kate Romano, the driving force behind it all–but now I met Dominic Wheeler, Conductor, Stuart Calder, Producer, and the six players that form Okeanos Ensemble.

The day began with a production meeting chaired by David Leigh-Pemberton, Production Manager, and a discussion of the performance and rehearsal dates, as well as other details related to the production. I felt very privileged to be a part of this, indeed, to think that my little book of poems was the whole reason for this hugely-accomplished group of people to assemble here at all!

After the meeting, the musicians began to arrive and set up for the playthrough. There was a real buzz of excitement. Nicola said, “It is the earliest of days.” The conductor moved through the score one scene at a time, with the musicians stopping to ask for clarification, sometimes, directing questions to the composer. A pianist played the vocal line and read the words from the libretto. They would then play through the scene until they were happy with it, and the scene was recorded. To hear the music emerging from the pages of the score was just breath-taking.

For those three hours, I was in a space that was not of this world. As I listened to the music and the vocal line, even without the characters on stage, I thought how well the melody matches the personality of each character. And I thought I must be the luckiest poet in the world. To see it take shape before my eyes was pure magic! Tokaido Road truly belongs to each of us involved in this, and that feels just as it should.

Nancy Gaffield


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