COMPOSER MUSIC DIRECTOR RESEARCHER
The Voce Chamber Choir
The Ruin (2012) for the London-based Voce Chamber Choir (conductor Suzi Digby) (SSAATTBB with organ and percussion) is a dramatic setting of an ancient text describing a great city, thought to be the Roman city of Bath, found in ruins by the Anglo Saxons. The use of modern English alongside the ancient text provides the unusual perspective of a view from two periods in time. The manuscript was damaged by fire in the middle ages, leaving only a suggestion of the text of the last lines; this setting, likewise, ends inconclusively:
Performed by Voce Chamber Choir at St Peter’s Eaton Square, London
Conducted by Suzi Digby
Organ: James Sherwood
Percussion: Andy Martin
"And now these buildings grow desolate
And the red-curved roof parts from its tiles.
The ruin has fallen to the ground, broken into mounds.
Where, at one time, many a warrior,
Joyous and ornamented in gold-bright splendour.
Proud, and flushed with wine, shone with trappings of war.
[The ruin] where many a warrior once looked at treasure,
at silver, at precious stones, at wealth, at prosperity,
At this bright castle of this broad kingdom.
The stone buildings stood, stream threw up heat in wide surge.
(Where tha bathu waeron, hat on hrere)
The wall enclosed all in its bright bosom
Then they let pour hot streams over grey stones
Until the . . . ringed sea . . .
It is . . . a noble . . . thing . . ."
The Singing Will Never be Done
The Singing Will Never be Done (2006) for choir (SSAATTBB), organ, harp, marimba and percussion, was commissioned by the Bristol Phoenix Choir at the time of the death of the last veteran of the First World War. It combines a short narrative on the well-known Christmas Truce, taken from contemporary accounts, followed by a setting of Siegfried Sassoon’s well known poem, Everyone Sang; the two texts are linked by the idea of singing transcending suffering, and the juxtaposition aims to cast a new light on a familiar text. The setting ends with defiant repetitions of the words ‘done’.
Performed by the Bristol Phoenix Choir at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol
Conducted by Dr Leslie Bunt
No man’s land at Christmas, a day of peace in time of war.
Christmas Day, nineteen fourteen.
Out of the darkness, evergreens appear above the sandbags
‘Do not trust them, an attack is expected!’
Lanterns appear above the trenches; we heard their laughter.
‘Fraternisation with the enemy!’
We spoke by signs, we had no common language, we shook hands.
‘This armistice is unofficial!’
Shared Christmas carols,
A barrel of beer for a plum pudding.
Shared cards around the campfire,
Even a game of football.
And singing . . .
(from the accounts of Captain J. C. Dunn, used with permission)
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prison’d birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields;
On- on- and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun;
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
The singing will never be done.
(Siegfried Sassoon, used with permission)
Extract from The Ruin - opens in new window
‘. .a thrillingly eerie score.. .’
Venue Magazine - The Illusion
photography by Theo Cottle
. . I don’t think I’ve been quite so moved by an event in years. I absolutely loved the work, it was so powerful on so many levels . .
Catherine Freda, Head of Education, St George’s Bristol - Home by Christmas