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The Cornelian Secret: Love poems by Lord Byron



The Cornelian Secret: Love poems by Lord Byron


17 January 2021
5 April–31 December 2021

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"Music was the catalyst for 17-year-old (not yet Lord) Byron’s passionate love for the young chorister John Edleston at Trinity College, Cambridge: “His voice first attracted my attention, his countenance fixed it, and his manners attached me to him for ever,” wrote the fledgeling poet, who would henceforth refer to their love by coded reference to a red cornelian brooch pin, gifted to him by Edleston. Deeply shaken, some years later, by the unexpected death of his college lover from consumption at the age of 21, Byron would compose a series of affecting elegies in which the biblical, female pseudonym “Thyrza” is used to mislead the public opinion of puritanical England as to the real, same-sex object of his desire – a potential scandal that would no doubt contribute to his decision to definitive go into self-imposed exile to southern Europe in 1816. These early monuments of queer poetry form the basis of the commission by the GNO Alternative Stage to three among the most interesting Greek composers of the younger generation: Ioannis Angelakis, Aspasia Nasopoulou and Orestis Papaioannou; their music, distinguished by its interiority, philosophical attitude and dizzying expressive breadth (ranging from neo-romantic sensitivity to hard-boiled, avant-garde sonic experimentations), attempts to give contemporary expression to the timeless lament of the Romantic poet for his “musical protégé”. "

(Edited and description from organiser’s website:

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