Laurence Armstrong Hughes has a website where he says he is a composer of music. He also has a blog called Musings, which is all about himself, another blog called The New Lyricist which is all about his music, and his own YouTube channel called Laurence:The New Lyricist, on which he says he is going to upload examples of his work. A man, in short, with an overwhelming interest in himself.
The Youtube channel doesn't seem to have any music uploaded to it as yet. Judging from his main website it is not a prolific output. Now aged well into his sixties, he is certainly not competing with Mozart as an infant prodigy. One of these compositions, titled "Severn and Somme " is a setting of six poems by Ivor Gurney.
Since his blog gives a link to a review of this work, which was performed once, we might as well quote what the reviewer said.
After this came the first of the three world premieres of the evening, Laurence Armstrong-Hughes’s Severn and Somme, musical settings of six poems by Ivor Gurney. It is difficult to say too much about this piece mainly because the balance between harp, oboe, and voice meant that the words were a little more difficult to comprehend, and perhaps better suited to a smaller space than Keble Chapel. The instrumentalists here did a commendable job with the piece, but on looking back at the texts, the opposition of the title was perhaps not exploited to its full potential. That said, the desolation of the third song, describing the memories of a lost loved one, was beautifully executed, and provided a foil to the bucolic landscape of the other movements.
It sounds as if the "world premiere" may turn out to be a unique and unparalleled occasion.
I happen to have some personal acquaintance with Laurence Hughes, who lives on a canal boat called "Salaga". A canal boat can be quite a tolerable home for a single person with few possessions. He told me and other friends that he constantly moved "Salaga" from one mooring to another on the Oxford canal in order to avoid paying the charges. He mentioned that his boat was unregistered, whatever that means. He didn't want some inspectors or other to catch him doing this. That's what he said, anyway.
Salaga at Kennington 2014
It's not surprising if he cannot pay, since you don't usually earn a lot for composing his sort of stuff, even in larger quantities. Laurence used to have a job, in one of the Oxford colleges, in some non-academic capacity, but he gave it up after confiding to me several times that he had been bullied. I thought this was terrible and asked him why he did not complain to the management or go to the union. I also encouraged him to seek help from the university's Occupational Health Officer, whom I happened to know. I told her all about his problems, sent him all her contact details and got information about getting help. He refused to take any steps, which was odd if his complaints of being bullied were true.
In return for my help, he publicly heaped me with abuse, using terms such as "vile" and "abhorrent" for anyone who opposes same-sex marriage. While complaining about bullying, in private, he is very quick to take any chance to publicly bully other people. He is not a victim of bullying, he is the real bully. Well, that's the New Lyricism for you!
The last I heard of Laurence Hughes, he was hanging around UKIP meetings in Oxford telling people that he was "destitute". He said it so often that other people were getting embarrassed. No one really knew what to do about it.
Well, Laurence, it must be "vile" and "abhorrent" for you to be destitute. It must be highly inconvenient to lack the money to pay the registration fees and mooring fees on your boat. If an inspector ever caught up with you, that would certainly be vile and abhorrent. It must be "vile" and "abhorrent" to be surrounded by so much bullying, even if most of it is imaginary, and even if you are a bully yourself.
So I have a suggestion to make. Crowd-funding! Please would as many people as possible who can spare 50p, or even 20p, send it to Laurence Hughes, and help to keep Salaga afloat. Don't judge him on what he has achieved, Just be kind and charitable.
Lenten Meditations: Saturday 25 March
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