Out of the Shadows

Friday, 18 June 2021

Letters from Burma

In 2004, composer Roxanna Panufnik wrote Letters from Burna based on the writings of Aung San Suu Kyi. Perhaps now we have a rather different view of Aung San Suu Kyi but there is no doubt about the power of her remarkable collection Letters from Burna describing everyday life in the country, and written during her time under house arrest.

Now, as part of Refugee Week 2021, the London Mozart Players (LMP) and oboist Olivier Stankiewicz have released a new recording of Panufnik's Letters from Burma accompanied by a moving and thought-provoking video, filmed by students from Surrey University, which includes recent footage from Myanmar, plus an interview with noted human rights activist Benedict Rogers, brother of LMP's leader, Ruth Rogers. Benedict Rogers is the Senior Analyst for East Asia at the human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and author of three books on Myanmar.

This spring, the military in Myanmar once again seized power in a coup, launching a brutal crackdown on people peacefully protesting against military rule, and this has cast the composition in a new and poignant light. All money raised by the video will go to the refugee charity Advance Myanmar, which is providing emergency aid to thousands forced to flee their homes.

Roxanna Panufnik said:
"My father fled a totalitarian regime 70 years ago, and the courage and kindness of those who helped him stays with my family to this day. 'Letters from Burma' is inspired by a collection of the same title, of Aung San Suu Kyi's correspondence to a Japanese newspaper during her house arrest in the 1990s. They describe every facet of the beauty and also the severe hardship of the country but my piece finishes in triumph. I hope and pray Burma's surpressed will do so, one day too. Please help support those brave enough to endeavour to make this happen and the innocent victims of totalitarian oppression."

Further information from the London Mozart Players' website, and donations are welcome at the Advance Myanmar website.

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