Song Lyric Sunday – 6 September 2020 – Yanamamo

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday gives us the chance to share familiar, and sometimes not so familiar, songs. Jim has given us Musical/Opera this week rather than a choice of words to be included in the title or lyrics.

If you fancy sharing one of your favourite songs you can find out how to participate, and also listen to all the great entries, here.

I’m opting for a not so familiar song this week, from a musical that is normally performed by schoolchildren. I was lucky enough to attend a performance, probably 25 years ago now. It was very moving. The children had obviously spent a huge amount of time in learning, rehearsing, and performing the 90 minute work. Afterwards I bought a cassette tape (remember those) of the performance and played it often in the car whilst travelling to and from work.

Peter Anthony Rose MBE (music) and Anne Conlon MBE (words) are British writers best known for their environmental musicals for children. They were both teachers in Lancashire, England, for the majority of their creative achievements and most of their works have been written specially for St Augustine’s RC High School, Billington. At the time Peter Rose was their head of music. They wrote with a view to expanding the children’s knowledge of the world and the environment, perhaps hoping that their seeds would fall on fertile minds and help to make the world a better place.

In 1988 the US-based World Wildlife Fund (WWF) funded the musical Yanomamo, by Rose and Conlon, to convey what is happening to the people and their natural environment in the Amazon rainforest. It tells of Yanomami tribesmen/ tribeswomen living in the Amazon and has been performed by many drama groups around the world. Sadly, lessons were not learned and the Yanomami continue to endure massacres, disease, and a loss of more and more of their environment. What appeared to be a positive awakening of their plight was very short lived. The rest of the world calls it progress!

Yanomamo is a 90-minute work for chorus, soloists, narrator and stage band, and the original production, performed by the choir and musicians of St Augustine’s RC High School, was narrated by Sir David Attenborough and premiered at the Royal Institute, London, before appearing at the Edinburgh Festival. They later performed Yanomamo in America, narrated by Sting, which production was recorded for television and later broadcast (on Easter Sunday, 1989) on Channel 4 under the title of Song of the Forest. The TV version was commercially released by WWF. Since its publication the musical has seen performances by thousands of children throughout the world.

The lyrics are on the video which, unfortunately, is not very good quality. I hope you enjoy “Song of the Forest”