Newsletter No 17: Performances 2024 – Composer Dominique Le Gendre – Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew – Link to promo video

by Elizabeth Mucha

2024 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Art Sung. Confirmed dates for Art Sung – Edith Sitwell, Behind her Façade are:

Just before the end of last year, we were delighted to hear that funding had been granted by the Vaughan Williams Foundation for our third and final commission – a song by composer Dominique le Gendre.

Originally from Trinidad and Tobago, Dominique has lived and worked in London for over 30 years. Her musical portfolio has encompassed composition, musical direction, teaching, curation, and producing music events. She has composed music for theatre, dance, art installation, film, television, and radio drama for BBC Radio 3 and 4. She composed and produced music for all 38 Shakespeare plays recorded for the audio CD collection, The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare. She is a former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, which commissioned her full-length opera Bird of Night.

 Her song, Pavel…You…, (text by American poet, Olivia Diamond from her set of poems, “The Sitwell cycle”), gives musical expression to the pain and sorrow of Edith’s unrequited love for the homosexual Russian painter, Pavel Tchelitchew. Edith and Pavlik, as he was known, met in 1927 at Gertrude Stein’s famous literary soirées in Paris. Stein warned Edith, “If I present Pavlik to you, it’s your responsibility because his character is not my affair”. And so, the stage was set for a tempestuous, passionate, but unconsummated relationship – he was, after all, in a relationship with pianist Allan Tanner and later, the poet and novelist, Charles Henri Ford.

Pavlik wrote to her in the early days, “Nobody has ever understood you better, or come closer to you”. Edith was for him not only an intimate friend and patron, but a muse whose inner essence he captured on canvas in six paintings, stripping her of all the usual apparel she normally hid behind.

When Pavlik emigrated to the States in 1934, they maintained a very close correspondence. In 1948 Edith travelled to the States on the first of several literary tours and they were reunited. It was a disaster, but that is another long and complicated story! Their friendship never really recovered but Edith kept this painting on her wall until her death.

“Pavel…You…” by Dominique le Gendre will have its world premiere on Sunday 11th February, 3pm, at VocalFest24 in the Music in New Malden concert series.


Meantime, if you missed the premiere of Art Sung – Edith Sitwell at the London Song Festival in November, here is a short trailer from that performance to whet your appetite!

Elizabeth MuchaNewsletter No 17: Performances 2024 – Composer Dominique Le Gendre – Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew – Link to promo video