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YOU HAVE ARRIVED AT BYTE-TOWN.CA

GOOD FOR YOU! It must be one of your lucky days. We hope you’ll have many more.

This is the website of Byte-town Fyfer. It lists the currently available musical and other works of Sjef Frenken. If you want to know a bit more about him, click on BIO. But he won’t mind if you don’t.


BIG NEWS:

What until now has been a more or less random distribution of brief lunch-time sketches, has now been consolidated in book form under the title My Lunches with Jack. More than 300 pages, containing 137 lunch-time conversations on subjects ranging from God to tofu. Winner of the 2020 Nonesuch Prize for Bathroom Literature. Need we say more?


EVEN MORE BIG NEWS:

(not as big as the two items above, but still kinda big – medium big, let’s say.)
In answer to several requests, The Byte-town Publysher has reprinted PIET SOER AND OTHERS OF THE OLD EAST-INDIES LINE, the original edition of which had quickly sold out. This is a short run of only 20 copies. If you are interested in purchasing one, don’t wait. Because of the few books printed, the unit price is slightly higher.


OTHER NEWS:

Work continues apace on two projects:

For a change of fare, we still have a few copies of RIMSHOTS AND PARADIDDLES, a light-hearted collection of limericks, advice and observations – in poetic form with a very light touch. It is gluten- and GMO-free. At a reasonable price.

Because of COVID-19, some in-the-works projects have been put on hold.

Such is the case with the fifth album in the series SONGS FOR THE INNER CHILD, containing settings of poems for children, has verses by Rose Fyleman (1877- 1957), Mary Botham Howitt (1799-1888) whose name is intimately connected to the poem The Spider and the Fly, and a few more poems from the pen of Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) who was the subject of an earlier, 40-song album (SF/TIC-03). And possible one song with words and music by the composer.

A similar fate has happened to the third album of settings to poems for grown-ups (after those of Edna St Vincent Millay and Padraig Ó Broin) is about half finished. It will offer settings of some 22 poems by 11 contemporary poets who happen to be friends or acquaintances of the composer. At least two of the poets are also singers and will performer their own songs. With a bit of luck the album should be out in time for Christmas (we originally meant 2019, we missed 2020, and are targeting Easter 2021).

The projected album of settings of songs for young folk by Gabriel Setoun is also on hold for the moment, as the intended performer is currently otherwise occupied, and the studio is closed. COVID has a lot to answer for.



A NOTE

A word about the concept behind the series SONGS FOR THE INNER CHILD:

Ever since 1962, Sjef Frenken has searched out the best in English-language poetry for children for the purposes of setting these gems to music. Most of these verses date from the Victorian and Edwardian eras. This was a time when (in the words of John Updike*)... in England Lewis Carroll, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rudyard Kipling all wrote stories and poems for children to read. They did not do it offhand, or with a sly smile, but in earnest, with all the skill and wisdom they had, as if their lives depended upon it which in a way they did.” This was a time when children of the well-to-do were reared by nannies whose tasks included introducing their charges to the world of poetry. And while these poems were written for youngsters, there is a lot of material that will appeal to adults: recollections of their own youth as well as poignant and beautiful language from the pens of some of the world's greatest wordsmiths. The music has elements of the folk tradition as well as links to the light classics. Percy Grainger comes to mind.

* from Updike’s Introduction to The Young King and Other Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde, Macmillan, 1962.

The collection of songs totals more than 250 so far. Now that the Lear CD has been released, there will still be more than 150 songs left to record. The composer hopes to live long enough to finish the task.



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