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Neil Hannon's new song cycle inspired by his dad

1 of 1 Neil Hannon debuts his new oratorio about his father on March 22
Neil Hannon debuts his new oratorio about his father on March 22

Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon was inspired to write his new song cycle, To Our Fathers in Distress, by his father's diagnosis of Alzheimer's.

Hannon was asked to compose a piece by London's Southbank Centre for the Royal Festival Hall's newly refurbished organ and says he immediately thought of his father, retired Church of Ireland clergyman Rev Brian Hannon, who was Bishop of Clogher from 1986 to 2001.

Writing in today's (March 11) Guardian newspaper, Neil says: "It's six years now since my father told me he had Alzheimer's disease. At the time I was rather nonplussed by the revelation. I did my usual trick of ignoring it and hoping it would go away.

"Six years on and I wish he'd told me his legs had been chewed off by a combine harvester instead. At least then we could have discussed the gory details while I wheeled him around. But Alzheimer's disease is a miserable, slow retreat from the world, and from all that you are.

"It's not fair on him, or Mum. The irony that he will never be able to fully comprehend or appreciate my new composition To Our Fathers in Distress is perhaps its most pertinent reason for existence."

To Our Fathers in Distress is "a kind of oratorio on the subject of an average Hannon family Sunday in the 70s and 80s. It begins with a breakfast of lard, ends with Ireland being beaten in the rugby and visits the church and the woods in between. Not forgetting the obligatory awkward Sunday lunch with a visiting cleric of course."

The new piece will be performed as part of Neil Hannon's Guide to the Organ on Saturday 22 March at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London.

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