I’ve always been surrounded by music. My Welsh father had the stereotypical tenor voice and my mother played the piano. I annoyed my parents from a very early age until they were finally able to find someone willing to teach a, by then, 6-year-old the piano.
I don’t remember at what age I started going with my parents to see local productions of musicals, but my childhood is filled with memories of seeing all the standards, from Pirates of Penzance to The Sound of Music and, as I became a teenager, the ones which would become classics, like Cats and Phantom of the Opera.
My favourite musical will always be Les Miserables. I’d never had such an emotional response to a piece of musical theatre before. I had been excited and entertained, but never been so moved before.
I came to Sondheim quite late, relatively. But he immediately became my favourite musical composer. Again it was due to a strong emotional response to both the notes and the words. Sometimes my emotional response is so strong that listening is no longer an entertainment or even easy.
During our few days with Sofia, Roberto sang to her and the song I remember him singing was ‘Not While I’m Around’ from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.
Nothing’s gonna harm you, not while I’m around…
No one’s gonna hurt you,
No one’s gonna dare…
Hearing him sing this was difficult. Inside I was screaming, ‘But we weren’t able to protect you.’
It continues to be a very difficult song to hear, but will always remind me of the time we did have with Sofia.