10 Apr 2016

Sings Harry

From The Sunday Feature, 2:00 pm on 10 April 2016

When was Lilburn's landmark song-cycle 'Sings Harry' actually first performed? A few years ago, Peter Mechen asked the late Donald Munro to shed some light on the mystery, and also talked with other interpreters of the work.

Sings Harry publication cover

Sings Harry publication cover Photo: Used with permission

The six 'Sings Harry' poems were chosen by Douglas Lilburn from a collection written by Denis Glover, published as a group in 1952, but written over a ten-year period prior to their publication.

Glover’s 'Sings Harry' songs have long been regarded as quintessential New Zealand literature, the hero a laconic, self-reliant wanderer, wanting nothing and giving nothing in return, and yet deeply appreciative of the land and conscious of the poignancy of time’s passing.

As his artistic contemporaries were also doing, Glover in his poetry was exploring ways of coming to terms with the bitter-sweet nature of existence in such a rugged isolated land as New Zealand; and the character of Harry gave voice to the poet’s distinctive brand of satire, sentiment and straightforwardness.

Ngā Taonga kōrero

Archival recordings supplied by Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Music Details:

LILBURN: Sings Harry, excerpts:    

     Donald Munro/Frederick Page       Nga Taonga/RNZ Sound Archives  (Nov 1953)

     Terence Finnigan/Frederick Page   Kiwi EC 26

     Peter Russell/Margaret Nielsen       RNZ recording

     Robert Oliver/Milton Parker             RNZ recording

     Christopher Leech/Dylan Lardelli    Waiteata Music Press WTA 09

     Deborah Wai Kapohe                       RNZ recording

     Roger Wilson/Gillian Bibby              Waiteata Music Press WTA 09