The Red Shoe


The Red Shoe


Written after a visit to a Concentration Camp in East Poland (see also the ‘Pieces of Writing’ section). If you want a moment of utter gravity within your orchestral concert, this is it.

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Duration 6′

Strings (inc. solo violin), 1 Cl in Bb, Piano, 2P.

Back outside in the sun, we were led up the path past about thirty sheds, where prisoners were kept.  We were shown into one, I think most of the rest aren’t used for anything now. Before we went in, the guide said ‘Now you’re going to see 58,000 shoes’.  Inside were cages, ten feet tall, all down the middle of the shed, and knee-high ones round the sides.  They were all crammed with old shoes, belonging to ex-prisoners, a stunning portrayal of the numbers involved.  But more than that, not just the numbers, you felt their personalities. Walking down the sides, I instinctively reached down and started touching some of the shoes through the mesh, and looking up, I saw that other visitors were doing the same.  I think I wanted to touch what the prisoners had touched, but then I suddenly stopped and drew back, I think because I couldn’t help them.  There was one red shoe among the mostly flaky grey ones, and this implied character; a character; what sort of person wore this shoe?

Additional information

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PDF Download, Physical Copy


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